Lawyer licensing is an integral part of the mandate of the Law Society of Ontario (LSO). Under its mandate, the LSO must regulate the profession in the public interest and ensure that lawyers meet standards of learning, professional competence, and professional conduct. In November 2016, Convocation (the governing body of the LSO) asked the Professional Development & Competence Committee (Committee) to develop long-term recommendations for the licensing process. To this end, the Committee developed a paper to serve as the basis for consultation with the professions and the public on appropriate pathways to licensure.
A copy of the consultation paper can be found at www.lsodialogue.ca. The submissions received will inform the Committee’s recommendations to Convocation regarding the lawyer licensing process in early 2019.
Currently, licensing candidates are required to pass both the barrister and solicitor licensing examinations and to complete a transitional training requirement focused on teaching candidates the necessary skills, knowledge and tasks for the legal profession. Currently, two main pathways satisfy the LSO’s transitional training requirements to become a lawyer – articling and the Law Practice Program (LPP), or Programme de pratique du droit (PPD).
In the face of an evolving landscape and increasing pressures on the licensing process, the Committee determined that the professions and the public should be consulted about the options listed below, including the possibility of changes to the transitional training requirement of the licensing process. In each of these options the current barrister and solicitor examinations would be maintained as a requirement for licensure.
The Committee is seeking feedback on the following options:
Option 1: Current Model: The current two transitional training pathways would be retained, taking into account the fact that the current model is continuously adjusted to accommodate new developments.
Option 2: Current Model with Enhancements: The current two transitional training pathways would be retained, with enhancements. These enhancements include a requirement that candidates be paid at the statutory minimum wage, audits and greater oversight of articling and work placements. Candidates would be required to pass the barrister and solicitor licensing examinations as a prerequisite to transitional training and then pass a new skills examination in order to become licensed.
Option 3: Examination-Based Licensing: Candidates would be licensed after they first complete the barrister and solicitor licensing examinations and then the new skills examination. Transitional training, such as the requirement to complete articling or the LPP/PPD, would be eliminated as a requirement of licensure. The management of regulatory risk would shift to post-call and depend on the career path of the new licensee. Candidates who choose not to practise law and licensees 5 practising in a workplace of six or more lawyers would not be subject to any additional requirements. Licensees practising as sole practitioners or in a firm with fewer than six lawyers would also be required to complete a new practice essentials course and would be subject to audit within their first few years of practice.
Option 4: LPP for all Candidates: All licensing candidates would be required to complete the training course component of the LPP/PPD, without the work placement component. Candidates would also be required to successfully complete the Barrister and Solicitor examinations and the new Skills Examination.
Written comments by practitioners and Law Associations are welcome until October 26, 2018, and may be submitted to the LSO at www.lsodialogue.ca.