Update on Dialogue on Licensing

Posted: 06/20/2017

Dialogue on LicensingDiscussion groups for the Dialogue on Licensing have wrapped up, bringing to a close an innovative and collaborative process that has seen the Law Society hold 15 facilitated, in-person discussions on lawyer licensing in seven cities across the province and one interactive webcast.

Over 250 lawyers, licensing candidates, law students and other stakeholders have participated in the dialogue on the realities, challenges and opportunities of lawyer licensing in Ontario. Twenty-seven organizations and associations have been represented at one or more of the discussion groups, including A2Justice, Association des juristes d’expression française de l’Ontario, Ryerson Law Practice Program, The Advocates’ Society, South Asian Bar Association of Toronto, Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario, several law schools and law associations and others.

“Very interesting to hear the varying perspectives and experiences on lawyer licensing tonight” – Discussion Group Participant

Led by a professional facilitator, with targeted Reference Materials provided in advance, the discussion groups gave participants an opportunity to share their own perspectives and hear the views of others.

“The Dialogue on Licensing represents a new, more collaborative approach for the Law Society and the profession,” says Peter Wardle, Chair of the Law Society’s Professional Development and Competence Committee. “Rather than asking the profession for input on a pre-formed proposal, we are reaching out and hearing from lawyers and other stakeholders first.  And perhaps more important, participants are listening to and learning from each other.”

Additional opportunities for input

Lawyers and other stakeholders have an opportunity to provide written comments, by August 1. Visit lsucdialogue.ca/participate to submit written input. The Reference Materials for all topics are available on the dedicated microsite – lsucdialogue.ca – and summary reports on the discussion groups for each of the four topics are being added to the site as they become available.

Comprehensive review of the lawyer licensing process

“I just wanted to say thanks for doing this – looking at all the components, not just isolating pieces” – Discussion Group Participant

The Law Society decided to undertake a comprehensive analysis of the lawyer licensing process following the review and subsequent two-year extension of the Pathways Pilot Project, which includes the introduction of the Law Practice Program and enhancements to the Articling Program. The need for change is driven by three major factors: an increasing number of applicants, financial sustainability of transitional training options, and the ongoing transformation of the business of law.

The discussion groups for the Dialogue on Licensing covered four topics:

Topic 1:  The Need For Change
Topic 2:  Market Dynamics and the Lawyer Profession
Topic 3:  Licensing Examinations: Assessment of Entry-level Competence
Topic 4: Transitional Training

Next steps

In the coming months, the Professional Development and Competence Committee will review the input received from the profession and stakeholders during the Dialogue on Licensing and continue its review of the lawyer licensing process as a whole.

The Committee is expected to make recommendations on the lawyer licensing process to Convocation by early 2018.

Feedback on these recommendations will be sought from the profession and other stakeholders at that time, with final decisions on the future of the lawyer licensing process to be made in 2018.

The ultimate goal is to formulate a long-term vision for an appropriate and sustainable licensing system for lawyers in Ontario.

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