I’ve been called to the Bar of Ontario since 1993 – that’s 21 years for those keeping score.
In order to become a lawyer I had to:
1. graduate from law school with an LLB;
2. attend a one month practical Bar Admission Course;
3. Article (intern) with a law firm for a year;
4. Attend a four month Bar Admission Course and write exams over the course of four months.
Times have changed and now students still have to complete step 1, but then it changes:
1. Students write two days of Bar Admission Exams either before or during their Articles;
2. Students Article for 10 months.
The problem that has arisen is there are not enough Articling positions for the number of students.
In response to this problem, the Law Practice Program (LPP) has been created. There are two models, one delivered during Law School and one delivered after Law School.
The program after Law School requires that after a law degree:
1. Students write two days of Bar Admission Exams;
2. Students attend a four month intense training program that will teach them the practical aspect of all areas of law.
The training will include practical instruction in Law Firm accounting software as well as dealing with the pressures of multi-deadlines and tasks. This will be done under the direct mentorship of one lawyer to four students, with the lawyer functioning in a role similar to an Articling Principal.
3. Students will work at law firms for four months.
The expectation is that by providing students who have practical training and can be useful in a firm, it will be easier to find placements, particularly as the placements are for a shorter period of time.
When I first heard of this program (without knowing the details, just that it existed) I thought that the best lawyers would be produced through the Articling Stream.
Now that I understand how standardized and practical the LPP program is, I believe that those lawyers will be better prepared to be real lawyers who are able to effectively serve clients once they are called to the Bar.
In order for this LPP program to work, the profession needs to embrace it and step up for four month job placements – it’s a great opportunity to have someone shadow and learn from you.
I’ve applied to be a Mentor and our firm is considering what opportunities we can provide a student – if you’re a lawyer in Ontario, this is worth looking at as it is likely the way of the future.
Inga B. Andriessen JD