Consultation paper outlines four options for future of lawyer licensing in Ontario
As part of its comprehensive analysis of the lawyer licensing process, the Law Society of Ontario released a consultation paper on May 24, 2018. The document follows last year’s Dialogue on Licensing, which looked at the realities, challenges and opportunities of lawyer licensing in the province.
Developed by the Professional Development and Competence Committee, the consultation paper outlines four possible options for a long-term, appropriate and sustainable licensing system for lawyer licensing candidates in Ontario.
The consultation on these options will run until October 26, 2018. Written comments are welcome and can be submitted via the Dialogue on Licensing website at: www.lsodialogue.ca. Submissions on these options will inform the Committee’s recommendations to Convocation regarding the lawyer licensing process in early 2019.
“During the Dialogue, we heard a wide range of views from lawyers, licensing candidates, law students, academics and legal organizations, regarding their concerns about the current system,” says Professional Development and Competence Committee Chair, Peter Wardle. “This valuable input helped us to develop four potential options for the future, and we are now seeking feedback about these possibilities from the professions, law students and the public.”
The four options are as follows:
Option 1: Current Model
Under this option, the current two transitional training pathways — the articling program and the Law Practice Program (LPP) /Programme de pratique du droit (PPD) — 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
This option retains the current two transitional training pathways, but with enhancements, including a requirement that candidates be paid at the statutory minimum wage, and greater oversight of articling and work placements. Random audits would also be conducted to confirm that placements are meeting transitional training goals and to ensure a more consistent articling experience for all candidates.
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 to become licensed.
The new Skills Examination could consist of written tasks, such as writing an opinion letter or memorandum, drafting an affidavit or short pleading, providing an analysis of the application of the Rules of Professional Conduct to a particular situation, or identifying proposed solutions to an urgent issue or question.
Option 3: Examination-Based Licensing
Under this option, the transitional training requirement would be eliminated. Candidates would be licensed after they successfully complete the Barrister and Solicitor Licensing Examinations and the new Skills Examination.
Based on available data regarding regulatory risk, candidates who choose not to practise law and licensees 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
This option would ensure a single pathway to licensing. All licensing candidates would be required to complete the training course component of the LPP/PPD, without the work placement component, on the basis that the LPP/PPD 17-week training course is specifically designed to train candidates in the experiential training competencies and support their ability to fulfill the Law Society’s transitional training goals.
Candidates would also be required to successfully complete the Barrister and Solicitor examinations and the new Skills Examination.