As you may already know, the Law Society of Ontario is reviewing its lawyer licensing process. In May, it released a report outlining four possible options for a long-term appropriate and sustainable licensing system.
In short, the four options are:
1: Current Model - Under this option, the current two transitional training pathways — the articling program and the Law Practice Program (LPP) - would be retained (taking into account that the current model is continuously adjusted to accommodate new developments).
2: Current Model with Enhancements - This option retains the current two transitional training pathways, but with enhancements, including a requirement that candidates be paid minimum wage, and greater oversight of articling and work placements. Random audits of placements would be conducted. Candidates would be required to pass the Barrister and Solicitor Licensing Examinations as a prerequisite to transitional training, and then pass a new Skills Examination to become licensed.
The new Skills Examination could consist of written tasks, such as writing an opinion letter or memorandum, drafting an affidavit or short pleading, providing an analysis of the application of the Rules of Professional Conduct to a particular situation, or identifying proposed solutions to an urgent issue or question.
3: Examination-Based Licensing - Under this option, the transitional training requirement would be eliminated. Candidates would be licensed after they successfully complete the Barrister and Solicitor Licensing Examinations and the new Skills Examination. Licensees practising as sole practitioners or in a firm with fewer than six lawyers would also be required to complete a new Practice Essentials Course and would be subject to audit within their first few years of practice.
4: LPP for all Candidates - This option would ensure a single pathway to licensing. All licensing candidates would be required to complete the 17 week training course component of the LPP, without the work placement. Candidates would also be required to successfully complete the Barrister and Solicitor examinations and the new Skills Examination.