The Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education is engaging with stakeholders to identify potential skill gaps in those recently called to the bar.

The Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education (CPLED) is attempting to enhance and evolve the Practice Readiness Education Program (PREP) so as to be recognized as a “best-in-class” Bar admission program. To achieve this, CPLED is engaging with key stakeholders to gather information on potential skill gaps in lawyers who have been called to the Bar in the last five years.

CPLED has contracted ACT, a non-profit education organisation, to facilitate and analyse the feedback received to provide a report that CPLED will use to update PREP for implementation in their Summer 2024 program.

On behalf of CPLED, ACT will conduct a series of virtual focus groups with lawyers who have been called to the Bar in the past five years, Principals and firm articling supervisors. The focus groups will be 90-minutes long and take place in June of 2022. During the sessions, participants will have the opportunity to share their perspectives on PREP and the competencies necessary for success in early practice.

Read the full article here.

The Canadian Bar Association has released a report into gender pay equity in the legal market

The Canadian Bar Association  has released Pay Equity in the Legal Profession, a report outlining the results of a roundtable held by the CBA Women Lawyers Forum in 2021.

The goal of the roundtable was to gather qualitative data on Canadian lawyers’ experiences, perceptions, and opinions about gender and pay equity in the profession.

The report and outcomes of the roundtable will be discussed at an event, Achieving pay equity in the legal profession and beyond: Practical steps forward, on the 2nd May 2022, as part of CBA Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Series.

Read more here.

Canadian Government passes new regulations in response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine

New regulations brought in by the Canadian government have seen individuals and entities have their assets frozen and further dealings prohibited in response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

Lawyers in Alberta have a regulatory obligation to comply with these and to not assist anyone in conducting illegal activities, including future dealings with prohibited Russian entities or individuals. Lawyers may therefore be required to consider how much they can assist a client or whether they have a duty to withdraw.

Read the full story here.

Law Society of Ontario cancels licensing examinations to protect public interest

The Law Society of Ontario has cancelled its licensing examinations to protect the public interest and the integrity of the examination process. This comes in the wake of information that suggests a number of examinees had improper access to examination material.

This decision affects approximately 1100 candidates who were set to write online examinations, beginning Tuesday 8th March.

The Law Society is conducting an investigation with third party investigators, which will include those who have recently sat the licensing exam. This could potentially affect recently qualified and those looking to take the licensing exam in the near future.

Read the full story here.

The Law Society of Saskatchewan Canada has issued an article entitled ‘Better connecting consumers of legal services and alternative legal providers’

The Law Society of Saskatchewan Canada has issued an article written by the Future of Legal Services committee entitled ‘Better connecting consumers of legal services and alternative legal providers’ to highlight access to justice information.

The article focuses on how legal information can help and the different ways lawyers can be more transparent about billing practices and services when communicating them to clients.

Read the full article here.

Law Society of Alberta continues Lawyer Referral Service review

In 2020 the Law Society of Alberta took the Lawyer Referral Service back in house, and launched a survey to gather the input of key stakeholders regarding the service. 

After many years being run by Calgary Legal Guidance, in March 2020, the Law Society took LRS back in-house. This was partly to better understand how the service meets the needs of the public. Through the first year of in-house operation at the Law Society, more than 17,000 Albertans contacted LRS and were matched with lawyers who participate in the program.

This year, the Law Society of Alberta launched a survey seeking input from clients who had used the service, as well as lawyers who participate in the LRS. This brought back some positive results, suggesting clients who had used the service had often retained the services of the lawyer they were put in contact with. The detailed results of this survey will help the Law Society of Alberta in its goal of improving access to justice and will be followed by a roundtable in November to discuss the operation of the LRS and how it can be improved.

Read the full story here.

Canadian Bar Association launches truth and reconciliation toolkit for law firms

In June 2021, the Canadian Bar Assocation (CBA) is launching a Truth and Reconciliation toolkit, focused on large Candaian law firms, and helping them to reconcile and renew relationships with indigenous communities in Canada. The toolkit is aimed at firms that are already on a reconciliation journey or would like to begin one, and firms of any size that want to become better allies.

The toolkit contains a comprehensive list of templates, guides and resources to help firms further their reconciliation efforts. It is divided into four sections:

  • Leadership and Governance
  • Learning, Celebrating and Supporting Indigenous Communities
  • Talent Management and Students
  • Law and Legal Traditions

The toolkit includes resources on how firms can ensure their human resource policies are diverse and inclusive and what questions they should ask prospective Indigenous employees or students. It includes guidance on how to ensure firms have a cultural competency lens on their hiring processes. The toolkit also includes a section on Indigenous law and legal traditions is a reference hub for comprehensive glossaries, terminology guides, and many other resources to understand everything from the Indian Act to the United Nations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and how they apply to the Canadian context.

CBA President Bradley Regehr has said “Whether you are just beginning your reconciliation journey or are already on your way, there are tremendous resources here to help you learn to be a better ally, engage with Indigenous advisors, immerse yourself in Indigenous culture, consider ways to recruit and retain Indigenous talent, and much, much more.”

The toolkit comes in the wake of the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which called for action withing the legal profession. The CBA began in 2016 by committing to do its part to advance the calls to action that fit within our mandate. It established a Truth and Reconciliation Task Force, created a dedicated website and, with NVision Insight Group, developed an accredited educational program called The Path: Your Journey Through Indigenous Canada to educate lawyers about the history of Indigenous-settler relations and the legacy of the Indian Residential School System. It also partnered with Myrna McCallum to launch her Trauma-Informed Lawyer podcast.

Read more about the toolkit here. 

Canada launches national wellbeing study of legal professionals

A partnership of the different Canadian law societies, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, the Canadian Bar Association and the Université de Sherbrooke is coming together for a first-of-its-kind national study on the well-being of legal professionals.

The study is based on the fact that legal practitioners are amongst the grouping of professionals most at risk of experiencing mental wellness issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression. The partnership aims to better understand why this is, in order to better support legal professionals, providing them with the necessary resources to promote a healthy and sustainable legal practice.

A range of legal practitioners are being contacted in order to complete the study. For example, In Ontario, the following legal professionals are being asked to participate in an anonymous and confidential study questionnaire:

  • All lawyers and paralegals, including those who are presently unemployed, on leave and who have retired or stopped working in law in the past year;
  • Articling candidates who are working in any capacity, including private practice, public sector, university or college, etc.;
  • Experiential learning candidates who completed the Law Practice Program at Ryerson, the Programme de pratique du droit at the University of Ottawa or the Integrated Practice Curriculum program at Lakehead University in 2021.

Read more about the study here,  Or watch a video of lead researcher Dr. Nathalie Cadieux introducing the study here

 

Understanding and Interpreting Law School Enrolment Data

Abstract

The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) has a long-standing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in legal education and in the legal profession. In line with its mission to promote quality, access, and equity in legal education, LSAC is providing a report, Understanding and Interpreting Law School Enrollment Data: A Focus on Race and Ethnicity, to help law schools, admission professionals, and other legal education stakeholders understand how we are measuring who is in the pipeline. The purpose of the report is to inform conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion in law school and recruitment efforts. The report outlines the history of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) data reporting standards, how these differ from LSAC data collection and reporting practices, and the social and cultural implications of different race and ethnicity data collection and reporting methods. The report includes examples of how the different methods affect conclusions that can be drawn from analyses of subgroup trends over time.

Bodamer, Elizabeth and Dustman, Kimberly and Langer, Debra and Walzer, Mark and Camilli, Gregory and Gallagher, Ann, Understanding and Interpreting Law School Enrollment Data (October 15, 2020).

Canadian Bar Association report on justice and COVID-19

During the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) AGM, held on the 18th February 2021, the CBA released its new report on COVID-19 and the justice system ‘No Turning Back’. The report, which was produced by a special task force, has concluded that there can be no return to the way things worked in the legal profession and the justice systems before the pandemic.

The report suggests that the pandemic has brought changes to the Canadian legal profession which have been long-awaited. The report includes a number of recommendations, to the CBA, around continuing and building on these changes in order to create a more innovative and effective justice system, which the population can have confidence in. Its recommendations include:

  • Collaborate with domestic and international justice system partners on best practices
  • Ensure that changes enhance access to justice instead of detracting from it by minimizing unintended consequences, including breaches of privacy
  • Consider the impact on marginalized groups of implementing AI and other emerging technologies

The task force, established in April, 2020, brought together CBA members and justice system partners from across the country to assess the immediate and evolving issues for the delivery of legal services resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

CBA President, and task force Co-Chair, Brad Regehr has said “The pandemic kick-started a modernization of the way the legal profession and the justice system provide services – something the CBA has been advocating for a long time. We now need to make sure these changes are sustainable and that they are properly implemented to enhance access to justice. ”

Read the full report here.