Articling – Should it stay or should it go?

The Law Society of Upper Canada, the governing body of lawyers in Ontario, is currently grappling with the issue of Articling.

Articling is a “practicum” that lawyers, who have finished law school and the bar admission course, complete with a law firm before being able to be called to the bar. The purpose of Articling is to give lawyers practical education: law school teaches us to think like lawyers (critical thinking, advocacy, arrogance (kidding on the last one, we’re born with it)) but it is Articling that teaches lawyers how to actually practice law (advise a client, run a lawsuit, draft a document).

When I was an Articling Student, we had to Article for 12 months, now it is 10.

When I was an Articling Student, almost everyone had an Article, now there are many going two years + without an Article. Some give up on getting called to the Bar. This means that 3 years and between
$ 48 000 and $ 75 000 in tuition is wasted. Wow.

The Law Society is looking at an alternative form of Article that will allow lawyers to be called to the Bar by gaining practical experience in a slightly different manner. They believe this will work. Perhaps it will.

At the end of the day, do we need Articling? I think we do. It was during my Articles that I conducted 11 Small Claims Court Trials – this provided me with the foundation to be in the Court of Appeal with confidence in my first year as a lawyer. Without Articling, I would not have known what to do.

This is not an easy issue to resolve – too many lawyers want to be called to the Ontario Bar and that is not something that is going to change in the near future.

Inga B. Andriessen JD