Session: Licensing Process Information Webinar
Transcription provided by:
[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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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