The Law Society of Ontario, Canada, has launched a number of new initiatives to improve the career-long professional development of lawyers and paralegals. The Law Society’s Board of Directors approved the new competency framework after a consultation period
The new Competency Framework includes the creation of a practice essentials course which will be mandatory for lawyers or paralegals within one year of setting up as a sole practitioner for the first time. This will take effect as of January 2024. The approximately 30-hour online course will set new sole practitioners up for long-term success by focusing on foundational practice and business management topics.
As part of the new framework the Rules of Professional Conduct and the Paralegal Professional Conduct Guidelines will be amended to adopt the Federation of Law Societies of Canada Model Code of Professional Conduct commentary (Section 3.1-2) regarding technological competence.
The Law Society requires licensees who are practising law or providing legal services to complete 12 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) hours each year. Currently, there is a six-hour limit on archived or recorded CPD programs that are eligible for credit each year. The new framework waives this limitation.
The new framework also calls for the wind-up of the Certified Specialist Program (CSP). Licensees who are may use that designation until Dec. 31, 2022. The Indigenous Legal Issues specialization will be continued subject to any future recommendation made by the Equity and Indigenous Affairs Committee to Convocation regarding the specialization.