Over three years ago, the Law Society of Upper Canada agreed to a three year trial of an alternative to Articling for lawyers seeking to be Called to the Bar in Ontario. This program is called the Law Practice Program, or shortened to LPP.
The Sub-Committee of the Law Society has recommended that the LPP not be continued. I disagree.
When one Articles, one works under an Articling Principal (one responsible lawyer) for 10 months. That one person then signs off on whether the lawyer is ready to be Called to the Bar in Ontario.
In the LPP, the lawyers are mentored by two different lawyers for the first four months of the program. The lawyers also have their work evaluated by over 15 other assessors who independently decide if those lawyers are ready to be Called to the Bar in Ontario. After that first four months, the lawyers then have a work placement where the supervising lawyer again has an opportunity to decide if the lawyer is ready to be Called to the Bar in Ontario.
As a Mentor in the LPP, I have had three years of first hand experience in the program and believe that it produces a lawyer who is better prepared to be Called to the Bar than most Articling positions. As a result, I was initially confused as to why the Sub-Committee recommended against the continuation of this licensing option .
After thinking about it, I concluded, the reason must be because the Law Society wishes to limit the number of lawyers being Called to the Bar in Ontario.
When I went to Law School 25 years ago, very few Canadian students chose to study abroad and then come back to Canada to be licensed. Part of that was due to the fact that the requirements to have your foreign degree accepted in Ontario were much higher back then. This lead to a natural “cap” on the number of lawyers seeking admission to the Bar each year as it was based, in part, on the number of Canadian Law School graduates each year.
Today, however, it is not uncommon for many Canadian students to study law in schools in the UK and Australia, then return to Canada seeking to become licensed in this country. This has resulted in a huge influx of lawyers seeking to become licensed in Ontario. At the same time as the huge increase in lawyers seeking to become licensed, there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of Articling positions available.
If the intention of the Law Society is to limit the number of lawyers Called to the Ontario Bar, that can still be accomplished by having the LPP being the only licensing stream and capping the number of lawyers who are accepted into the LPP each year.
The LPP produces a more prepared lawyer and one who is evaluated by many assessors, not just the opinion of one lawyer.
I vote that the LPP stay.