Licensees attending the Law Society’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) at Osgoode Hall, May 13, had the opportunity vote on a member-proposed motion that sought to place qualified licensing candidates in articling positions by random selection.
The motion proposed that each law firm with eight or more lawyers accept and provide articles of clerkship to the licensing candidates it is assigned — and that firms with seven or fewer lawyers may apply to be assigned one or more articling candidates.
The motion also requested that the Law Society set the pay scale, salary and other employment benefits and terms for articling candidates, and set other terms and conditions to ensure the articling period is one of mentoring, training, acquiring experience and absorbing the tenets of integrity of the profession — and not primarily for careerism, nor exploitation, nor marginalization.
The motion, which was submitted to the AGM by a group of 15 lawyers, was soundly defeated.
During discussion of the motion, it was pointed out that the Law Society established an Articling Task Force in 2011 to focus on articling issues — particularly the challenges facing the program, including the growing number of unplaced candidates.
The Pathways pilot project — as recommended by the Task Force — was approved in 2012 to ensure equitable and effective experiential training, and launched in the 2014-15 year.
Pathways includes the Law Practice Program (LPP) which provides an excellent opportunity for licensing candidates to gain experiential training in areas of practice where articling placements are traditionally not found.
Enhancements to the Articling program were also made under Pathways, and include new reporting requirements designed to promote consistency and ensure fulfilment of the experiential training competencies. The Law Society also developed and launched a new online Articling Program Reporting Tool to support the new reporting requirements.
The Law Society is committed to evaluate the benefits of both programs during the pilot. We are gathering evidence-based information on the application and results of the two pathways to measure their effectiveness in producing lawyers competent for entry into the profession.
The evaluation process includes candidate assessments, surveys of candidates and feedback from employers post-call. We are also conducting focus groups with licensing candidates.
The results of the evaluation will inform Convocation’s decision as to how to best proceed following completion of the pilot project.