Law School Info Session Webcast Transcript

Session:  Licensing Process Information Webinar 

Transcription provided by:  
Transcript Heroes

77769-recording-6292-high

 

[Start of recorded material 00:00:00]

Priya Bhatia:       Good morning. On behalf of the Law Society of Upper Canada, I’d like to welcome you to today’s webcast on the lawyer licensing process. We are pleased to be able to provide you with information about key steps and requirements to facilitate your successful licence here in Ontario. My name is Priya Bhatia, Manager of Licensing and Accreditation of the Law Society and I have with me Gina Haros, Team Manager of the Licensing Process. Claire Hepburn, Team Manager, Articling Program and Will Morrison, Associate Counsel, Articling Program.

So, I’m just going to start by taking your though some of the house keeping items that apply for today’s webcast. We’re going to speak for about 45 minutes and our agenda is posted under the agenda tab at the up right hand corner of your screen. And the agenda includes relevant links to the information on our website that will assist you in understanding some of the steps and processes we’re talking about. The larger window on the right hand side of your screen will display the presentation slides that we’ll be speaking to. We’re going to leave about 45 minutes for questions after the presentation and we want to take as many of your questions as possible today. So, please submit your questions using the Q&A tab located just below the webcast window and keep those questions coming throughout our presentation and we’ll address them all at the end, but if you do have a question you can submit at any time.

If we don’t get to all the questions and you still need more information of course, we invite you to reach out to us via email or phone and we’re going to provide you with all of our pertinent contact details at that the end of the presentation. Note also that if you’re not able to watch the entire webcast today, you can always access the archive webcast, which will be available on the Law Society’s website within a few weeks’ time.

So, I’m going to just begin by introducing the licensing process and giving you a bit of context for our presentation today. I wanted to start by noting that the Law Society’s lawyer licensing process is based on entry-level competencies that have been developed and validated by the profession, this is important. These are the more critical and frequently performed skills and tasks in the first few years of practice. And it’s this competency based licensing framework that ensures that lawyers are being admitted to the profession based on consistent standards and criteria regardless of where they went to law school or what courses they took and this is all in the public interest. So, you’ll hear a lot more about the barrister competencies and the solicitor competencies and experiential training competencies during our presentation today, they are available on the website as well and I encourage you to review them, so you’re familiar with the standards against which you will be admitted to the profession.

So, this is an info-graphic that depicts in a sort of interest way the components of the licensing process. And what it really speaks to is the flexibility in the process, and that you can actually do the components in any order that you wish after you’ve completed law school or obtained your certificate of qualification from The National Committee Of Accreditation. The three main components to becoming a lawyer in Ontario are the two licensing examinations, the experiential training component and of course demonstrating that you are of good character.

You’ll note that you’re able to fulfill the experiential training requirement by completing the articling program or the law practice program, and you’ll more about that later in our presentation. As you may be aware, the Law Society launched the Law Practice Program in 2014 and the program is now in its third year and has been approved by the law society for two more years. So, this means that there will be a session available in September 2017 and again in September 2018. Over all you have three years to complete the licensing process. So if you are applying into the licensing process now, your licensing term, that is your three year licensing term, will formerly begin on May 1st 2017, and you will until April 30th, 2019 to complete all components and become licensed. The process is flexible and allows you to complete the components in the order you wish as I mentioned, as long as you do it within your three licensing term.

We find that most candidates are able to complete the licensing process within one year. So, we’re going to begin our discussion by having Gina Haros take us to the application process, which is the starting point for the licensing process and I’m assuming that a number of you are in the midst of preparing your applications or will be doing so shortly, so Gina.

Gina Haros:         Thank you Priya – excuse me.

I’ll be taking participants through some of the high level information about the application process and you may also review a more detailed section on the website called, Completing the Lawyer Licensing Process Application, which outlines some of the things to have accessible during the application process. As always, if information you’re looking for cannot be found online or isn’t addressed during this webcast or if you have a particular question relating to your specific or unique situation, please don’t hesitate to contact the Licensing and Accreditation Department for assistance after this webcast. Contact information will, as we’ve mentioned, be available on screen at the conclusion of this presentation.

So, the current application for the 2017/18 licensing year was launched last month for applicants hoping to select the June or November 2017 sittings or the March 2018 sittings. The application process begins online at LSUC.on.ca and by clicking For Lawyers and then Become a Lawyer, you’ll be able to see the Apply Now button for the application. The application is a two-part process and Part 1 consists of the online application and payment of the fees. Part 2 of the process requires you to print and commission or notarize your application and submit it to the Law Society.

When you apply online, you’ll be required to provide certain information such as the name of your law school, when you expect to graduate, when you intend to write your licensing examinations and so on. You will also be required to answer a section regarding what the Law Society calls, the good character section and also make an experiential training path selection. Applicants who’ve not yet decided if they will article or complete the LPP, must make the most appropriate selection at the time of application. You will have the opportunity to adjust your selection over the next couple of months if your situation changes. The application itself takes about 20 to 90 minutes to enter online.

Once you finished part 1 of the application process and pay the fee, you will be assigned a Law Society web account. This account is what you’ll log into to print out the PDF file you just created with your application information. This personal and confidential web account is where grade results and invoices for fee payment will be sent to. It is recommended that applicants check this account weekly once they apply and even more regularly when preparing for the exams and up to the time you are licensed. In part 2 of the application process, once you have accessed and printed off the PDF file of your application, begin collecting all the supporting documentation which must be commissioned or notarized and submitted with the application. The deadline to submit an application, the fee and the supporting documents is December 2nd 2016, so just over two weeks from now. And application would still be accepted after this deadline, but would be subject to a late fee.

Once an application is received by the deadline, it’s reviewed and processed and the applicant is then invoiced for their examination and study material fees in January of the following year. Please note you may have your documents notarized outside of Canada in the event that you’re away during the application process period. The December deadline is not only to submit the application online, it’s also to ensure you’ve made the application fee payment and submitted those relevant supporting documents. All of these must be submitted in order to enter the licensing process.

If anything is missing from the application with respect to registration and invoicing, licensing and accreditation staff will advise applicants via their web account. Once you apply you’ll also start to receive information and time lines about study material distribution, licensing examinations, invoicing and other important information. Separate from the application fee, you’ll also be invoiced for the study materials and examinations you are sitting. I did want to mention that candidates are required to follow up directly with their law school next June to ensure that a final transcript is sent by the school directly to the Law Society upon graduation. This is a part of the registration and filing requirements as part of the licensing process. In addition, candidates who are going through the NCA process will also be required to submit to the Law Society a final certificate of qualification.

It may feel like a long time from now until next summer, but please diarize this requirement and the final due date for transcript submission is August 8th, 2017. Now, we’re going to move on to entry level competencies.

Before we do move on to the competencies I wanted to mention that all candidates are required to successfully complete a barrister and a solicitor’s examination as part of their licensing requirements. Each of the exams measure performance on a pass-fail basis and assess whether a candidate has met the minimum standard of competency required in order to be licensed in Ontario. Each exam is seven hours in length and they are open book, self-study and multiple-choice examinations, and the study materials are aligned with the competencies and have been designed to support the self-study process.

The barrister examination assesses competencies in the following categories; ethical and professional responsibilities, knowledge of the law, establishing and maintaining the barrister-client relationship, problem and issue identification, analysis and assessment, alternate dispute resolution, the litigation process and practice management issues. The solicitor examination also assesses competencies in ethical and professional responsibilities, knowledge of the law and practice management issues, but also focuses on case law, policy, procedures and forms, establishing and maintaining the solicitor-client relationship and fulfilling the retainer.

In a moment, Will will speak further on examination preparation, but I wanted to mention that more detailed information of all of these competencies is available online in the examination section and I encourage you to review them as part of your examination preparation.

For those who pay their licensing process fees by the April 7th, 2017 payment deadline, the study materials are distributed in April in a number of ways. Study materials are distributed in person on site at the law Society during a two-week period from April 24th to May 5th in 2017. Once this period is over candidates are expected to obtain materials either online through each candidate’s online account or by placing a shipping request to have them shipped to you at an additional cost.

Note that candidates cannot bring a digital copy of the materials to the examination site, only a paper copy is permissible. So, if you decide not to pick up materials in person and instead wish to only access them digitally, you will still have to print them off in order to bring them to the testing area. In addition to the study materials, candidates will also be provided with a Law Society candidate identification card when they receive their study materials. The identification card will be what you’ll bring to the examination site in order to check in and what you’ll also show when you enter legal libraries or facilitates during your time as a licensing process candidate.

And now, I will hand it back to you, to Will, who will speak more about preparing for the examinations.

Will Morrison:    Thanks Gina.

I’m now going to speak about some key strategies and considerations to help you prepare for writing each licensing examination. The first point I want to emphasize is that we have extensive materials on the Law Society website, setting out this information. So you should review all of those written materials closely when you begin studying for each exam. Candidates often ask our office how they can best prepare for the exams. The short answer is that you should probably use the study habits and methods that have you helped you succeed thus far. There’s no one best way to prepare for these exams, the best way is whichever way works best for you. And we know that there are almost as many studying styles as there are candidates who write our exams.

Most importantly, performing well on the licensing examinations requires a strong understanding of the study materials. While the open-book format means you can bring these materials into the exam, it doesn’t mean that you can overlook the need to thoroughly familiarize yourself with the materials being tested. The exams requires you to analyze the information within the materials and to apply it to new situations. This will require reviewing the materials closely and at length.

As I mentioned, there’s no one best way to develop your understanding of the study materials, however, there are some techniques and practices that will tend to work well for many candidates. First, most candidates find it useful to implement a study strategy early on, this can include making a schedule for organizing your study time and it’s always a good idea to begin studying early and to do so in manageable increments spaced out over time as opposed to cramming all the material in long and last-minute study sessions.

Given that it’s an open-book exam, you’ll also want to think from the outset about what materials you’ll want to have with you in the room on the day of the exam and what you need to do in order to prepare those materials. We recommend organizing your materials in whatever way allows you to quickly access relevant information to answer questions, make them user friendly for yourself. Three suggestions for organizing your material include; (1) using tabs or a colour coding system to delineate certain subject areas and key topics, (2) preparing short manageable summaries on selected topics and (3) creating and index that lists key topics and the corresponding pages where those topics are located in your study materials and notes.

Some candidates may find tabbing, index and/or highlighting the materials helpful at the outset of their preparation in order to help absorb the materials. Others find that preparing their materials in these way is something they like to leave to the end as a way to rounding out their study process and reviewing important concepts. Again, the best approach is the one that gives you the most confidence to walk into the exam feeling prepared. Keep in mind as well that all of the questions on the licensing exams are in multiple-choice format. We have some material in our exam guide online that gives tips about maximising your performance on multiple-choice questions, which you should review. We also provide several sample questions for both the barrister and the solicitor exam, to give you a sense of the format of the questions.

While we do provide these sample questions as examples, I also want to note that the Law Society doesn’t provide copies of old exams. You may be aware of exam prep courses offered by other providers. It’s certainly up to you whether you wish to take courses like that, but please remember two things. First, none of those courses are endorsed by the Law Society nor do we provide them with access to our exam materials and second, everything you need to prepare for your examination is contained in the study materials we provide. Finally, it’s also important throughout your exam preparation to use techniques to help yourself maintain a calm, focused and positive attitude. Keep the goal of staying positive and focused in mind throughout your preparation. We have some tips online about how to manage anxiety that you may feel in lead up or during the examination.

On the day of the exam, as was mentioned, be prepared. Each licensing examination is seven hours in length, with a lunch break after the first three and a half hours; it’s a full day event. Make sure you’ve got enough sleep and nutrition in the days leading up to the exam, to allow you to perform at your best. The exam is held at a large venue with a very formal setup. Including dedicated check-in stations, co-check and security screening areas. Remember that there will be hundreds of other candidates checking in being screened at the same time as you. Arrive early or at the very least, be on time. This is important not only to ensure that the examination is administered smoothly, but also to give you a chance to get settled into your surroundings and relieve any anxiety that may, understandably, come with having to write an important exam among hundreds of strangers in a large room.

Since it’s an open-book multiple-choice examination, you can bring in your marked up study materials, your study notes, a dictionary etc. However, once the exam is over, note that you must leave behind any items you brought into the testing area. There are several important pages on our website in the licensing examination section that you need to review to prepare for the examination. These provide detailed information on what to expect and prepare for and will ensure smooth sailing on the morning of the examination. They include information about the security and screening procedures at the exam venue. You should note that these are more formal and structured than you may be accustomed to from university or other exams. These pages also include information about the check-in process at the venue and what items to bring with you.

We have lists of permitted items that you can bring into the testing area, as well as prohibited items. You should review these lists in details. And our website also offers a short orientation video to the licensing examination which I would encourage you to watch. Finally, you should also review the website to understand the conduct that is expected of candidates at the examination venues. We appreciate that it’s a high stakes day for candidates and we need to ensure that the process runs smoothly and that a respectful and stable environment is maintained for the benefit of everyone. One week prior to each exam, please make sure you double-check key information, like the venue address, the arrival time and the check-in time. The information online is there to avoid to any hiccups on the morning of the exam. Bring lots of snacks, leave your cell phone in the car and try to carve out a rare moment of calm before you begin writing.

Once you check in and pass through the security screening area, you’ll be expected to sit in your assigned seat for the duration of the examination period, except of course when you break for lunch. Before you know it, you’ll be writing your exam.

Now, a note on receiving your exam result. Inevitably, as soon as each exam ends candidates begin wondering about how they performed. Please note that results will not be released until about six to eight weeks after the examination date. We’ll send your result to your confidential online licensing account and you’ll get an email notifying you that it’s there, so there’s no need to call in to our office to check whether the results are out yet. Results cannot be released before that timeframe for several reasons. In order to ensure the integrity of the marking process, a full six to eight weeks is required to receive and grade and verify exam results and to provide them to candidates. Examinations are held, not only at the large main site in Toronto, but also in other cities and venues and exams are written in both official languages and it takes some time to ensure that all those licensing examinations are received and marked appropriately.

If you are unsuccessful on a licensing examination, don’t panic. You can reregister for one of the subsequent scheduled sittings. Candidates are permitted a maximum of three attempts at each licensing examination within their three-year licensing term. All information regarding rewriting an examination will be sent confidentially in a message to the candidate through their online licensing account. You won’t be the first or the last to be in that situation I assure you, so please feel free to contact our department if you have any further questions on the next steps for rewriting. And finally, a note on the process for deferrals. If closer to the day of the exam, you find you’re unable to write, you must defer your examination by sending a deferral form to our office at least five business days prior to the examination date.

Priya Bhatia:       Thanks Will. We’re now going to move on to the next item on our agenda which is experiential training. And I’m going to ask to Claire Hepburn to speak to us about that.

Claire Hepburn:  Thanks Priya and thank you Will and Gina for that important information. So, we’re now going to be talking about the experiential training component of the licensing process and I’m going to start off by telling you a little bit about the Law Practice Program or the LPP. As Priya mentioned at the beginning of the presentation, there are two ways to complete your experiential training program. You can either article for 10 months under the enhanced articling program or you can choose to complete the Law Practice Program or LPP.

There are two providers for the LPP. Ryerson University is delivering the English language program, and the University of Ottawa is delivering the French language program. If you choose to attend the French language program and you have not previously studied law in French, you will need to successfully complete a French language test that is administered by the University of Ottawa. The Law Practice Program runs for a total of eight months. It consists of a four-month training course and a four-month work placement. The training course begins towards the end of August for Ryerson and in early September for the Ottawa program and runs until the end of December. The work placement will begin in January and run until about the end of April. The dates we have here would be up for the next LPP, which are now eligible to apply and register for.

The program both in French and English is based on a national competency profile and that national competency profile has been established by the Federation of Law Societies and has been adopted across the country. These competencies set out the most critical and frequently performed entry-level tasks for lawyers. The training course portion is meant to simulate the practice of law, but in a structured environment. It involves dynamic activities that will require you to interact with clients, lawyers, work providers and a variety of practice areas in both French and English. There is also extensive involvement with the legal profession in the form of instructors and mentors as well as assessors.

The two programs have slightly different formats. The English program is delivered through a blended format and involves a robust online learning platform with certain mandatory attendance weeks in Toronto at various points throughout the program. The dates of those mandatory attendance weeks will be posted later, probably towards the spring of 2017. The French program, being much smaller with fewer candidates, is delivered primarily in person in more of a seminar style.

The work placement portion, as I said, is four months long and begins in January and ends in April. The work placements are really an opportunity for you to apply what you’ve learned in the training course to a practice setting. The work providers and the LPP providers, meaning Ryerson and the University of Ottawa, will work with you to determine what your interests are they will exercise their best efforts to match you in a position in that area. Both providers continue to make best efforts to find placements and while they cannot guarantee the placements are paid, we’ve seen over 70% of the placements of the program have been paid. The settings that we’re seeing for the work placements are really quite varied. We’ve seen position in in-house settings, quite a few legal clinics, government, non-governmental organizations and of course firms of all different sizes.

All the work placements will require that the candidate’s supervisor submit a training plan to ensure that the required competencies are being fulfilled and also that the candidate and the supervisor fulfill certain assessments and filings with the LPP. Both Ryerson and the University of Ottawa have developed web pages for their particular program. So, while you may start off looking at the information on our website, we do have links to those web pages for the providers and they do flesh out quite a bit of detail on what to expect, how the program works and those sorts of things. So, I do encourage you to review that information as part of you preparation for the licensing process.

Like the LPP, articling is an enriching and rewarding training component of the licensing process. It’s an opportunity to put legal theory into practice and to experience what it’s like to provide legal services while under the supervision and tutelage of an experienced principal. While articling placements vary depending on the setting, there will be common elements in each; we call these the experiential training competencies. They reflect the necessary skills, knowledge and tasks for entry into the profession. Tasks such as interviewing a client and writing a legal opinion and skills such as advocacy, negotiation and practice management; will be performed and evaluated during your 10-month articling term. For many of you, articling will be your first opportunity to apply your legal skills in a practical environment. To succeed and get the most out of your placement will require you to shift your thinking room an academic setting to a practical service based setting.

It’s essential that you keep the lines of communication open with your principal and any other lawyer who assigns you tasks. Often you’ll be juggling competing demands and it is up to you to manage your workflow. Seek out feedback when you can, and don’t be discouraged by minor setbacks. This is your opportunity to cultivate good habits that will ensure not only competence, but success as you enter the legal profession. In addition to your day-to-day articling duties, you also have to complete the online professional responsibility and practice course or the PRP course. This is a self-directed course that takes about 30 to 40 hours to complete. Once you have completed the course, your principal will administer the assessment and provide you with input on it.

During the 10 months of articles, you are permitted to take up to 10 days, up to 10 business days, off without it affecting the term of your placement. This time can be used for vacation, study days or sick days. If you are away from your articling placement for more than two weeks, you may need to extend your articling term. In some cases such as illness or emergency, you may qualify for a compassionate abridgement of the articling term. If that does become an issue, please contact our office so we can guide you through that process. If you decide to write the licensing exams during your articling placement, your principal must give you seven days free of articling duties for each licensing exam. Just note that this obligation only applies if it’s your first attempt at each exam. While all articling placements must align with the experiential training competencies, there is flexibility within the articling program.

There are many different arrangements and practice settings that can support an articling placement. In addition to the traditional 10-month full-time articling placement in Ontario, the Law Society also permits, in appropriate circumstances, joint articling placement with two or more principals, part-time articling placements, national and international articling placements. I would encourage you to consult our website if you are considering any of these alternative options as they sometimes have additional requirements. If you are entering the licensing process and are still seeking an articling placement, we also have resources available to assist you. These include a registry of articling placement job postings and a mentorship program that matches unplaced candidates with a practicing lawyer who provides guidance and support in the candidate search process.

So next, I’ll be discussing the filing requirements for articling. All the documents I’m going to discuss are available to download from our website. First, I want to note that before the articling placement even begins, your principal must ensure that he or she is approved to serve as a principal. This isn’t a requirement for you as a candidate, but it’s still important that you be aware of your principal’s requirement, because it could affect your placement. We are not able to credit time that you spent working for a lawyer who has not been approved as an articling principal. If the lawyer who is going to act as your principal hasn’t had an articling student before it is particularly important that you remind them to file the principal application well in advance of the placement commencing.

The first filing requirement for you falls at the beginning of your placement or within 10 business days after it starts. You must file an Articles of Clerkship form, signed by both you and your principal to avoid any late fees and to make sure that you get full credit in your placement. At the same time, your principal must file and experiential training plan for the placement using the online articling reporting tool for principals. If your principal already filed one of these training plans in previous years, then they will just need to log on, review it to ensure their practice can still support the training plan and that no revisions are needed.

While there are no documents that you’ll file during a typical articling placement, you will have to complete the PRP course. We also recommend reviewing the experiential training plan periodically throughout your placement. It is also important that before and during your placement, you check your online licensing account often; since that is the primary way the Law Society will communicate important articling and licensing information to you. It is also important that you notify us of any changes in your placement as soon as possible. At the end of your placement, you must file a form called, the Certificate of Service Under Articles. Your principal must also sign this form, which includes confirming that you have completed the assessment for the PRP course. If you intend to be called to the Bar in June, there is an early filing deadline of April 1st, by which you need to have filed the Certificate of Service Under Articles form.

Also, at the end of your placement or by April 1st for candidates being called in June, you are required to file a Record of Experiential Training or RET, using your online licensing account. Your principal is also required to file an RET at the end of the placement, but please note that these are separate requirements and should be completed independently. Your RET consists of a report on your experiences during the articling placement relating to the experiential training competencies. It’s a good idea during your placement to review a sample copy of the RET, which is available online, to understand the reporting requirements at the outset. To sum up, there are three key documents that you will be responsible for filing with respect to your articling placement. The first is the Articles of Clerkship at the beginning of the placement and at the end a Certificate of Service Under Articles, and the online Record of Experiential Training or RET.

Now, I’m going to hand it over to Will and let him tell you a little bit more about Rights of Appearance and the call to the Bar, Will.

Will Morrison:    Thanks Claire.

So, as an articling candidate or a candidate who’s completing the work placement term during the LPP, you’ll be conferred certain rights to appear on certain matters before courts and tribunals. Before you make any appearance on any matter, the first step you should take is to consult the Rights of Appearance page on our website, which provides a detailed list of the types of matter you are allowed to appear on. In addition to ensuring that your matter falls within that list, you and your principal or supervising lawyer must always ensure that the lawyer’s attendance is not necessary, that you’re adequately supervised and properly prepared and that the matter is appropriate for your level of training, experience and ability.

Please note though that Ontario courts and tribunals are entitled to control their own processes. So, although these Rights of Appearance set out certain matters for which the Law Society’s governing legislation and by-laws permit candidates to appear, it’s always advisable to consult any applicable enabling legislation and rules of practice and/or procedure of the court or the tribunal in question. You should also contact the court or tribunal in advance to obtain express permission whenever possible.

After you’ve read our webpage, if you still have questions about your Rights of Appearance or would like clarification, please feel free to contact our office. The Law Society governs who may provide legal services and the scope of those legal services. So, it’s important as a candidate in the licensing process, that you understand what you are permitted to do. When you do make an appearance, you’re also obliged to identify yourself as an articling student or work placement candidate and you may also use the term, student at law to do so. Finally, if you’ve completed your articling placement or the LPP and you would like to continue to provide legal services and make appearances in a supervised capacity until you’re called to the Bar, you can do so by filing a supervision agreement. The supervision agreement needs to be signed by a lawyer who will be directly responsible for supervising any work that you do and appearances you make.

And now, I’m going to turn it back over to Priya.

Priya Bhatia:       Thank you Claire and Will for explaining in such detail the requirements related to articling and the law Practice Program and of course, if you have questions that arise as you’re considering these options along the way, you can contact our office and we will be providing the information to you at the end of the presentation.

So, I’m going to ask Will to tell us a little bit about the call to the Bar, which is in our view, one of the best jobs we have here at the Law Society to welcome you to the profession and we do have a ceremonial call as well as an administrative call. So, Will maybe you can tell us a little bit about that.

Will Morrison:    So, the call to the Bar ceremony is the final step in what will no doubt feel like a long and challenging process and it’s also a wonderful and well deserved opportunity for you and your loved ones to celebrate your achievement. On the day of your call, you’ll get a chance to wear your robes and crossover from being a licensing candidate to being a lawyer. Once you’ve satisfied all the components of the licensing process and are eligible to be called, you’ll receive an information bulletin through your online licensing account, giving you all the information you need to know for your call to the bar ceremony, including what you need to prepare and where you need to be.

The call ceremonies are held in three locations in June of each year, Toronto, Ottawa and London. And there are also ceremonies in Toronto in September and January of each year. If you do wish to be called in June 2018, you’ll need to start your articling placement by no later than August 8th, 2017 or to successfully complete the 2017 LPP.

And now, I’m going to turn it back over to Gina to discuss financial assistance and other candidate supports.

Gina Haros:         Thanks Will.

As I mentioned earlier, you’ll be invoiced in January for the study materials and examination fees and they will be due on April 7th, 2017 if you intend to collect materials in April and write in June. The Law Society has two financial assistance programs in place to assist candidates with fees. In late January 2017, information will be available online regarding the Law Society’s monthly payment plan and the repayable allowance program. Please note there are deadline associated with enrollment in each of these programs. Candidates who may require this assistance can review the current information posted on the website under the Fees and Forms Section to get an idea of what these programs entail and how to qualify.

In addition to the financial assistance programs like the monthly payment plan and repayable allowance program, the Law Society provides other forms of assistance to candidates in the process. Within the licensing and accreditation department, the examination administration team aims to improve the testing environment for students who are otherwise unable to comply with some of the conditions of the licensing process.

Supports that can be provided include examinations in alternative forms such as audiotape, Braille and text to speech, as well as special equipment for persons with visual and auditory impairments. If you’re a person with a disability or condition that requires accommodation during the process, please contact an accommodation coordinator directly once you submit your application, to explore options that may be available in order to support you during the process. In addition, candidates who receive an unsuccessful result on an examination may contact exam administration for tutoring services that are offered through the Law Society. Candidates who request tutoring will be connected with an appropriate tutor for up to five hours of tutoring. As always, more information is online at For Lawyers/Become a Lawyer under Candidate Supports.

And now, I’ll pass it back to Priya.

Priya Bhatia:       Thanks Gina.

So, I just wanted to mention that there are a lot of dates to remember in the licensing process and these dates are all available online, we’re going to highlight some of them here today, this is not exhaustive. It’s really important that you are paying attention to dates, we know you’re busy, you’re engaged in completing your law school studies or preparing for your NCA examinations and we recognize that. But it will best in your best interest to look at dates, make a note of them, put some reminders in your calendar so that you aren’t running up against deadlines, late fees and other stressors that are really unnecessary. So Gina, maybe you can highlight a few of the dates that are most important here.

Gina Haros:         Yes, thank you Priya.

So, I encourage everyone to visit and bookmark the Dates to Remember page on the website for many of the dates that we’ve mentioned in our presentation today. Be mindful that some of the deadlines are in business days or most of the deadlines rather are in business days, unless otherwise indicated. Please also refer to your web account once you apply where all of your invoices are posted as they too have deadlines indicated on them for payment. So, to recap the most imminent deadlines for anyone wanting to write exams next summer are the upcoming December 2nd application deadline, the next one is April 7th, 2017 which is the deadline to pay for the exam and study material fees. And lastly the deadline for all transcripts and certificates of qualification to be sent by your institution to the law Society which is August 8th, 2017.

So, it’s recommended that where possible, candidates pay their fees online in order to speed up the process and other options on how to pay will be outlined in your invoices as well as in the Fees and Forms Section of the website. As we mentioned previously, the examinations are always held in June, November and in March of each licensing year and you can review the precise exam dates online as they’ve now been posted for 2017/18.

I’m going to pass it back to Priya now.

Priya Bhatia:       So, we are just about to start our question and answer portion of the webcast and I want to thank Gina, Claire and Will for providing us with so much information. We will continue to do so by way of answering your questions, I do have to make a correction though. In my first introductory remarks, I noted incorrectly that the licensing term for those of you who will beginning on May 1st, 2017 will end on April 30th, 2019 and Gina has corrected me and noted that it’s actually April 30th, 2020. That would be the end of your three-year licensing term and we’ll make sure that’s reflected in the archive as well.

So, we’re going to start with, we’ve got a number of questions coming in on a variety of topics and so I’m going to start with this question here, which is a question pertaining to the examinations and to the choice of language on the examinations. And the question was; Am I permitted to obtain the examinations in both languages and provide my responses in one language? And I thought maybe will you’d like to answer that.

Will Morrison:    Sure, with the licensing examinations we do offer them in either official language, English or French. But you do need to make a selection and that is the language that you will be writing and answering the examination in, so you pick one or the other language.

Priya Bhatia:       Thanks Will. The next question is; if I am married and I have assumed my spouse’s last name, do I complete my application with the name on my birth certificate or the name on my marriage certificate? And this is an important question, because confirmation of your legal name and identity are very important licensing process and to answer the question, Gina – pass it over to Gina.

Gina Haros:         Thank you Priya. The application does have a section on it where you can indicate whether you’ll be submitting a birth certificate, a proof of your birth certificate as well as your marriage certificate. The suggestion without obviously knowing the particulars at this point would be that you apply in your married name and provide both sets of proof of legal name. And of course, we can always guide you through the process if you have any follow-up questions regarding your legal name, identification or anything of that nature by calling licensing and accreditation.

Priya Bhatia:       Thanks Gina. So, the next question is regarding articling, but it’s a sort of specific question around workplace harassment in articling. And the question is; What steps can an articling student take if his or her articling supervisor engages in workplace harassment? And I’m going to begin by answering with a few important points and I’ll invite Claire to step in if she wants to add anything. And first of all, this is a very serious matter for the Law Society and we have a number of protocols in place to support articling candidates generally in the articling process, but there’s a few things to keep in mind.

And first of all, the Law Society has an agreement with your articling principal that you’re going receive meaningful training and supervision and that this articling principal is going to act as an exemplar in all manners including ethical behaviour. And so, that’s the first thing, you know, this articling principal, if there was any workplace harassment going on that would be a problem from that point of view. But more pointedly, as a licensee, the lawyer is bound by the rules of professional conduct which embed a special duty to abide by the Ontario Human Rights Code and to guard against discrimination and harassment. So, in order to address something like this, we do have a number of supports and options, I thought Claire maybe you could tell us a little bit about the tools that would be available to help this candidate.

Claire Hepburn:  Sure Priya. Yes, so I would first invite a candidate to call into our office to speak with either me or Will Morrison the Associate Counsel and discuss what those options are. So, we do have a number of resources at the law Society including harassment and discrimination counsel someone that you may wish to speak to, it’s an arm’s length service provided by the Law Society. And again, I would say that depending on the context, either Will or I would be happy to discuss the issues around any situation that would involve a workplace harassment. While we couldn’t provide legal advice, that’s something that you would want to consider if there are legal issues raised and likely there would be in a situation like that. There’s also the lawyer referral service as well.

And I often mention to candidates when they’re dealing with a situation like this, it can be very stressful, so I always encourage candidates to reach out to other resources that they may have within their own community or even the member assistance program which is offered to articling students as well as lawyers. I think, right, a situation like that will depend on the context, so I think the most important thing to do is to contact us and see how we can provide you with assistance.

Priya Bhatia:       Thanks Claire. Another question, this is about applying into the licensing process when you’re not in Canada, maybe you’re on an exchange. So, this candidate has asked; if students are on an exchange abroad, can they still file within the December 2nd deadline? If so, how can they get all the documents submitted? And Gina is going to answer that for us.

Gina Haros:         Thanks Priya. So, we do have quite a few students that are overseas on exchange and they are able to submit the application, because it is accessible, it’s a web based tool that we have the application platform on.

So, you’ll be able to get into your account, print off the application, but I do recognize that some students are away from their legal name documentation, you may have left your birth certificate at home and are unable to provide it. But I do encourage you to ensure that the application itself is submitted by the deadline, we can always sort out the legal name documentation after, if this is what you are facing while you’re on exchange. And there is no late fee if that’s the case, we can always sort that out at a later date. But the application itself and the application fee, has to be paid by the December 2nd deadline.

I did also want to mention again that you are able to notarize your documentation overseas or outside of Canada, if that’ll help the process along and my staff is more than able to guide you in terms of what types of resources might be available to you in order to obtain that notarization outside of Canada.

Priya Bhatia:       Great, thank you. A question about the PRP course; can the PRP course be completed during the articling work day?

Will Morrison:    What we, thanks Priya, what we encourage is that you find time that works within the schedule that you’re working in to complete the PRP course. If you are going to be completing it within your articling work day, that’s something that you would want to speak with your articling principal about. Most principals are aware of this requirement and some will have plans for you about when that you will actually complete it and others will leave it to you to work it within your schedule.

Priya Bhatia:       Great, thanks. We have a couple of questions along the lines of the accommodations process and while we may not be able to get into a full detailed explanation of that process today. I did want to ask Claire if you could just quick briefly outline the timeframe for the accommodations and any sort of information you can provide about the types of documentations and forms that are generally required.

Claire Hepburn:  Sure Priya. So, the way the accommodation process works is you would generally indicate on your application form if you do require an accommodation for your licensing examinations, and if you do so you’ll be provided with a request form. Now, if you don’t include this information on the application itself you can send an email to examination accommodations, there is more information about that on our website and they will provide you with the request form. So, together with request form, you will also have to provide a medical documentation form that is completed if you require accommodation based on a medical condition or disability and you would have to sign an agreement in undertaking as well.

So the process, we generally ask for 45 business days prior to the licensing examination that you submit your application and that you provide as much detail and as much documentation as possible. And if you have questions along the way our coordinators in this area are very helpful and can guide you through the process.

Priya Bhatia:       Thanks Claire. The next question pertains to good character. So, I’m wondering if Will wouldn’t mind taking this. Can you elaborate on the good character requirement section of the application?

Will Morrison:    Sure, thanks Priya. So, there is a section of the application, which some of you will have seen, which requires you to ask questions that get at the requirement that we have for all licensees that they be of good character. The requirement from us is that you provide full disclosure to all of those questions and we do sometimes get questions to our office about, do I need to disclose this incident or do I need to disclose, you know, this particular issue in my life. We cannot answer those specific questions, the requirement from us is that you do answer each of those questions fully and you may, if you have some concern about whether or not you should be required to disclose something to us. You may want to seek some independent legal advice about that, the Law Society referral service is available online that you can use to get up to 30 minutes of free consultation or you may have other avenues to use.

But there is a full explanation of the good character process on our website, it’s in the Registration and Licensing Information page in the Become a Lawyer section of the website. So, I’d encourage you to review that if you have any concerns, it details what I just described and it also details the process that the Law society goes through if you do disclose some good character information to us and how that would be investigated.

Priya Bhatia:       Thanks Will. We have a question about articling and the question is; when can I begin my 10 month articles? Can I start once I finish my third year classes, have received all my grades or do I have to wait until convocation, meaning law school convocation? And the second part to the questions is; are the days off for the examination subtracted from the vacation days provided in an articling offer? So, that’s a two part questions, I’m not sure if Claire and Will want to answer that together or take part of it in turn?

Claire Hepburn:  So, the first question is fairly straightforward, when can I begin my articles, you have to be registered in the licensing process. In order to be registered, you have to have provided your transcripts or provided a letter in lieu. So, that’s for a fairly – it’s a definitive marker and so then I will let Will answer the second part of the question.

Will Morrison:    So, with regards to time off. If you are writing your, either or both of your licensing examinations during your articling placement, the principal is required to give you up to seven days of time off to write that examination or those examinations, so it could be up to 14 days total if you’re doing both. This is just a requirement if it’s your first attempt at the examinations and it’s up to you to decide whether you want to take all seven of those days. Now, whatever days you do take as study days, do count towards time off. So, if you used, let’s say 10 study days towards your exams, those would be all 10 of the days of time off that you could use in order to complete a sort of normal 10 month articling placement term.

If you took 14 days of time off, using 14 study days, you would just need to add four days to your 10-month articling placement and then you’d have the full ten months again.

Priya Bhatia:       Thanks. This is a question about late fees. What is the cost of the late fee if the December 2nd deadline is missed? Gina.

Gina Haros:         Thanks Priya. The cost, the late fee for filing the application or paying for the application fee late is $75 plus tax. And all of our fees are posted on the website under the Fees and Forms section. And if you have any questions of course on any of this you can always call the licensing and accreditation department for further details.

Priya Bhatia:       Okay, second part, related questions is; does the December 2nd application deadline apply to individuals who are wanting to write the examinations in November rather than June? So, that would be November 2017 as appose to June 2017, this is a good question, Gina if you could answer that please.

Gina Haros:         Absolutely, so the application fee relates to any of the licensing examinations written during that licensing year. So, it’s not just for candidates that are writing in June, it’s also a late fee that is applied if you are looking to get into the November examination, November 2017 examination.

Priya Bhatia:       Okay, we have a question about how long it takes a firm to be approved as an articling principal by the Law Society?

Claire Hepburn:  So, that’s a good question. We generally ask that a principal submit their application as soon as possible, we do exercise best efforts to approve those applications swiftly, usually it’s within 10 business days. However, there are several administrative – an extensive verification process, so there could be further delays. So we, while we cannot guarantee 10 business days, that’s generally a fair assessment of how long it takes.

Priya Bhatia:       Okay, we now have a question about the application again. Is it required that I include my middle name on the application if it only appears on my birth certificate and is not used in any other government identification? And Gina will give you the answer to that.

Gina Haros:         We get this question every day and yes. In terms of your record with the Law Society, you'll have to include any name or names that are on your legal name document. So, if your birth certificate includes a middle name, you’ll have to enter that when you’re applying online and provide the supporting documentation as well. So, we do have an area on the application where you can indicate your common name, as many candidates do. But when you are called to the Bar you will be licensed in your full legal name including all the wonderful names that your parents gave you.

Priya Bhatia:       We have a question about, from the perspective of an international student at a Canadian accredited law school. And so, I’m going to answer this question, it’s sort of worded rather generally and then if anyone else wants to add something. The question is; in what ways is the licensing process different for international students at a Canadian accredited law school?

And I mean, the answer to that question would depend on whether the international student is enrolled in a JD or LLB program, in which case there is absolutely no difference for that candidate with respect to the licensing process the same requirements and processes apply to all. If the candidate is an international student, who is working towards a certificate of qualification with the National Committee on Accreditation, then the licensing process itself isn’t different. But the steps to obtaining the certificate of qualification, which are governed by the National Committee on Accreditation would be different from what a candidate would do in a JD program or an LLB program at a Canadian law school. So, the way the question’s worded, I’m not sure if there was a specific scenario that the person had in mind, I’m not sure if anyone wants to add anything to that. That’s the answer at this point.

We do on our website organize our information about the licensing process based on the path that you are coming from, whether you’re coming from Canadian law school outside of Ontario, an Ontario law school or coming from an international law school. And so, that division of information should help you figure out what steps you need to follow and what information would be post pertinent to you.

Okay, we have a question about the Law Practice Program and perceptions around the Law Practice Program. The questions is; is there a stigma on the Law Practice Program being less meritorious or prestigious than articling? Is articling a preferred route for employers?

And I think my answer at this point would be that there are a number of views on the Law Practice Program, a number of which were referred to in the recent report to convocation and the evaluation materials, which are all publically available on the Law Society’s website. At this point, the Law Society’s position is that there are merits to both pathways, both pathways are achieving what convocation has set out for them to do and that is too early to make any kind of overarching judgment on the programs and the perceptions of whether articling is a preferred route for employers. I think would very much depend on the employers that you’re speaking to. We note from the evaluation materials, which again are available for you to review, that a number of employers were positively engaged in both pathways.

So, we have a question about success on law school exams and how that impacts your enrollment in the licensing process. And the question is; what if I don’t pass my final law school exams? What are my options? And so Gina, do you want to answer that?

Gina Haros:         Sure. So, once you’ve received notification from your law school that you were unsuccessful in your law school examinations and your final requirements, the first step is to notify the Law Society immediately if you’ve already applied and have registered to write an examination. And so, what you’ll be required to do and we can guide you through the entire process at that point, is to withdraw from the licensing process and defer the examinations to a later date for when you’ve completed your JD, LLB or your certificate of qualification. So, the first point of contact should be the Law Society and withdrawing from the process. You’re not permitted to attempt the examination at that point and of course we can guide you through the process thereafter.

Priya Bhatia:       Thanks Gina. I think we’ve come to the end of the questions being received via the webcast. If you do have a question and you’ve been holding off, now would be the time to type that in and send it to us, I think our panel is happy to take any more of your enquiries and wants to assist. However, if you don’t have any more questions then we will – actually I’m going to give you a few minutes, I’m going to assume there’s some people typing out there. But if we don’t have any more question we will wrap up shortly, we’re refreshing our screens here … and it looks like we have a question.

The question is regarding, again, applications and documentations for birth certificates from another country, will those need to be translated? Gina.

Gina Haros:         Thanks Priya. In the event that we’re unable to read the information, yes, we can get help to translate them. We do have staff that is both English and French bilingual, and so they’ll be able to read any French documents of course. But in the event that we need a translation, we’ll contact you directly in order to obtain any translation that we’ll require.

Priya Bhatia:       Great, a couple more questions are now coming in, as I refresh my screen. Again, focus on the application, do you need a long form birth certificate or will the little card, the short form birth certificate do? Gina.

Gina Haros:         So, this depends entirely from what province you’re coming from or what country. So, I’d urge you probably the best way to obtain the correct answer is to contact our office and we can discuss the details in terms of what’s required. The application document that I mentioned earlier in the presentation, completing your lawyer licensing application, does have the information that is required in a little bit more detail for you to review. So, I’d urge you to seek out that document and review it and if you have any follow-up questions we can certainly assist by calling or emailing our office.

Priya Bhatia:       This is an articling question. Do you have to provide notice to your principal at the end of the articling period if you did not intend on staying with the firm?

Will Morrison:    Thanks Priya, I’ll take that one. That’s really a question that doesn’t pertain to our, you know, our licensing requirements and our licensing process. When you have a question that’s related to the employment relationship between and your employer, it’s something that you may want to consider getting some legal advice about.

Claire Hepburn:  I would just add though if you are ending the placement early, you do have to notify us, the Law Society, as soon as possible.

Priya Bhatia:       We have a question about the examination study materials. The question is for the in-person pick up of the examination study materials. Where will this take place, meaning in which cities?

Gina Haros:         The examination materials are available in Toronto for that two-week period, for pick up in person. And thereafter you’ll be able to either access them digitally online or ask or request rather a shipment to be sent directly to you. And we are able to send the materials internationally as well, again there is a fee associated with that, so if you are able to attend in Toronto, that would probably be the most cost effective. If you are not you can, as always, access them digitally.

Priya Bhatia:       Okay and we have another question about applications and how do you include your personal information. The question is; if you did not include your middle name and you’ve submitted your application, how do you proceed in amending your application? Gina.

Gina Haros:         I’ll take that one Priya. If originally when you applied online you didn’t indicate your middle name, you can always contact our office and provide any supporting documentation that’s required. If you have already submitted the supporting documentation, then we will amend on our end once we receive those documents. So, even if you haven’t indicated that, we’ll amend the record once we review your legal name documentation.

Priya Bhatia:       So Gina, is going to forward me one more question here, and I am just refreshing my screen. And the question is; if there’s an issue with respect to one of the legal documents that you provide as part of the application process and you receive notification from the Law Society that the document is either deficient or incorrect, will the late penalty for the application apply? That’s over to Gina again.

Gina Haros:         In general terms, no. We would not apply a late fee for that legal name document. Primarily the late fee is geared towards the late filing of an application and the application fee. And again, those are in general terms, but if you have any questions feel free to give us a call and we’ll be able to give you specifics on that or if you’re having any difficulty obtaining a document, we can also provide guidance with that as well.

Priya Bhatia:       One question about the materials again. If I’m studying at law school outside of Toronto, can someone pick up my Bar exam study materials on my behalf?

Gina Haros:         I’ll take that one Priya. We do not release the materials to anyone other than the candidate that’s in the licensing process. And the reason for that is, because we require valid photo identification to be provided by the person that’s picking up the materials, namely you. And we also release the student identification card as I mentioned earlier, and that is your personal identification card that includes your candidate number and so we prefer that that’s sent or given directly to the individual rather than someone else.

Priya Bhatia:       And a follow-up question to that Gina. For candidates who are just not situated in Toronto during that two week period, I’m just wondering if you can confirm how else they might obtain those materials in that same timeframe? Are they able to have those materials shipped to them from the outset?

Gina Haros:         Yes, they can during the period of materials distribution and onward, order the materials online in the language that they prefer and they’ll be shipped directly to them. They can also access them via their web account electronically. So, they will be released in a multiple format as of the distribution deadline.

Priya Bhatia:       Great, we’re zeroing in on the application here again. A person has asked; once the application package has – and I think we’re talking about an online package has been submitted, and this is – someone’s obviously looking at their online account here. The online My Submitted Documents has received and approved columns that will be updated. Once the column indicates approved, does that mean there will be no issues with the application or will the candidate have to wait for a follow-up email in the messaging account confirming that the application is complete? So Gina, maybe you can just tell us about how a candidate knows when their application is complete.

Gina Haros:         Okay, perfect I will do that. So, over the next, about six to eight weeks, we’ll be receiving a tonne of applications coming in at the same time and they’ll be processed probably until mid-January. At that point, you’ll start receiving any notification, if your legal name document is incorrect or if you’re required to submit anything further in support of your application. So, during this time period, as I’m sure you can appreciate, there are a tonne of applications coming in and so even though you submit your application by the deadline, your account may not reflect that until mid-January, because of the amount of applications.

After that point, the applications will all be in and processed and you’ll start receiving regular communication from our office if there is an issue with your application. So, in the new year is when you’ll likely have any communication from us and any update, sorry Priya, and any update in your account thereafter.

Priya Bhatia:       And I just want to mention that we’re processing upwards of around 2,300 new applications at this time of the year for lawyers and then how many, another -

Gina Haros:         Probably a thousand.

Priya Bhatia:       A thousand paralegal applications as well, so be patient with us, we know you’re anxious to check this one off the list. But if you’ve done your online portion in a methodical manner and you can rest assured that we will let you know if there’s anything missing. Someone has asked if they can amend their lawyer licensing process application by hand to add their middle name? I’m assuming this might be the person who maybe didn’t include their middle name and has now been advised that they should have and so they’re wondering if they can do that by hand even though they’ve already submitted it. Gina.

Gina Haros:         Yes, you can go ahead and hand write it into the application, we will definitely review, not only your application, but also the legal name supporting documentation to ensure that everything matches up. So, you can go ahead and do that if you like. If there are any issues, again, we’ll contact you in the new year at the very latest with any adjustments that will be made to your account.

Priya Bhatia:       Well, I think we’ve come to the end of the questions that have been submitted by our listeners. And so, first of all I want to thank our listeners for such an engaging discussion, we really appreciate your questions and your interest in the licensing process and I’d also like to thank my panelists for the information that has been provided. You have our contact information there on the slides and you can reach out to us at any time with any questions you have. We will be posting an archive of this presentation within a few weeks’ time on the Law Society’s website and we’ll let you know when that is available. At this point I would like to wish you all the best with your studies, whether that’s law school studies or studying for you NCA exams and we look very much forward to welcoming you to the profession, thank you very much.

 

[End of recorded material 01:16:49]