Monday, March 21, 2016
This post from the popular Canadian law blog Slaw summarizes a recent Canadian Bar Association program that addressed the needs and concerns surrounding "practice-readiness" for new law grads north of the border.
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This topic was also the focus of a recent CBA Futures workshop entitled Transforming Legal Education in Canada: a Workshop to Inspire Change.
In Canada, at least, we don’t expect law school graduates to be ready to hang out their shingles right away. Law school is not the end of pre-call training. Unlike the United States (where passing a bar exam is all that’s needed), we require that law students complete a period of articles along with some form of bar admission course or bar exam. (One exception is the Ontario Law Practice Program that may be completed in place of articling.)
The BC Law Society recently reviewed its pre-call program of nine months of articling plus 10 weeks of the Professional Legal Training Course. Earlier this month, the Lawyer Education Advisory Committee presented its thorough and thoughtful report to the Benchers. The committee enthusiastically supports the current program; the general tenor of the report is “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
Meanwhile, the Federation of Law Societies has also been active in this space. They developed a national entry-level competence profile (now adopted by 13 law societies). They are now working on a national assessment proposal to provide consistency in how law societies assess competence. BC’s Lawyer Education Advisory Committee, though, has concerns about the proposal, given that the proposed exams would cover national law only. The Benchers will address these issues in the near future.
What do we hear from new lawyers about their practice-readiness? At a recent conference for CLE providers, we interviewed and surveyed new lawyers (both Canadian and American) from our jurisdictions. They were asked about they were enjoying about the practice of law, their greatest challenges and concerns, what they wish they knew more of, and their most critical needs.
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