***Update: Alberta lawyers interested in serving as LGFs/LGEs for CPLED Program online modules should complete the 2015/2016 LGF/LGE Application Form and return it to Bronwyn Connolly (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Each year, LESA partners with many experienced legal professionals to put on Alberta’s bar admission CPLED Program.
We’re still taking applications for the 2015/2016 CPLED year, and already we’ve had more than 360 students apply. As you can imagine, having this many students means we need a lot of support from the legal community.
One goal of the CPLED Program is to help students develop entry-level lawyer competencies. As such, LESA recruits facilitators, who provide feedback to students in preparation for their competency evaluation, and evaluators, who grade these final submissions.
This desire to help new, aspiring lawyers develop their competencies is one reason why more seasoned lawyers choose to be a part of the program.
I think that it’s important to keep up the high standards that have been set for the profession and for people who are aspiring to go into the profession. … We always say it’s an honourable calling. … So there’s mentoring involved, and I think there’s a little bit of gatekeeping involved. I just care enough about this profession that this is one of the ways that I choose to give back.”
Diana Mah, Youth Criminal Defense Office
LESA recruits facilitators and evaluators for both the 7 online modules and the 3 face-to-face sessions that comprise the CPLED program (see the 2015/2016 Key Dates).
During each 3 week module, Learning Group Facilitators (LGFs) monitor the progress of their learning group (usually 18–20 students) and interact with students through an online learning management platform. LGFs prepare for each module, facilitate online discussions, respond to student questions, review weekly student submissions, and provide feedback. While the module is open, LGFs commit about 10-20 hours a week to CPLED, including time spent providing feedback on assignments.
Learning Group Evaluators (LGEs) grade approximately 30–40 competency evaluations (final submissions). LGE duties conclude approximately 2 weeks after a module closes.
Both LGFs and LGEs are provided with mandatory training, to explain the duties and expectations of their roles. Additional module-specific LGF training occurs about a week before each module opens.
Here’s what one LGF/LGE had to say about her experience.
I enjoy volunteering with the CPLED program because we only get a student doing a rotation through my office every few years. Volunteering permits me to stay connected to those entering the profession. It’s a great opportunity to share my experience with new lawyers.”
If you’re interested in working with the CPLED Program’s online modules, please contact Bronwyn Connolly (email@example.com) for an application. Applications are due June 30, 2015.
Each face-to-face session runs over 3 or 4 days in Edmonton and Calgary, with individual volunteers usually committing one day of their time to the CPLED Program. Facilitators help guide discussion and answer questions on teaching and learning exercise days, and evaluators grade final assessments on competency evaluation days.
LESA provides training materials and a pre-session conference call to ensure everyone understands their roles and responsibilities.
As this face-to-face volunteer explains, participating in the CPLED Program benefits everyone involved.
Volunteering at CPLED provides me the opportunity to learn from the students, as well as share with them the experiences I have had. … The process of teaching actually … sharpens [my] skills. … Students often have unique perceptions and their questions cause me to reconsider the theory as it applies to the practical reality of practicing family law.”
Brad Mustard, Moe Hannah LLP
Contact Janette Sztym (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’d like more information or to submit your name for consideration as a face-to-face volunteer.
Everyone we spoke to for this blog was motivated to participate in the CPLED Program by a desire to give back to the legal community.
It was important for me to instill to younger members of the bar that they belonged to a membership that was supportive of them and that they had a lot of responsibilities to that group of people. … I think that in the last few years I’ve been able to do that, especially to people who are so scared of what’s going to happen to them in the future. It was important to me to let them know that, ‘Look around you, there’s all these people that are in practice and that have busy, busy lives, and they’re here on a volunteer basis to help you because we think that you’re important.’ … [Volunteering] makes me feel like part of a community of lawyers, and it’s something that gives back. … I think that giving to this community is a big part of what being a lawyer is about.”
Neena Ahluwalia QC, Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta
While these altruistic motivations provide one good reason for working with the CPLED Program, participating also personally benefits those who give up their time and efforts for the good of the community.
The CPLED Program allows you to be in an environment where you can enhance your public speaking and your teaching abilities, as well as access resources to keep you up-to-date with the new developments within the law, both in practice and theory. The networks that you build are great sources of collegiality and future opportunities.”
Arman Chak, ForensicLaw
If you’re interested in joining your colleagues to support CPLED Program this year, please be in touch. We won’t know how many positions we’ll need to fill until student registration numbers are finalized, but we appreciate everyone who is willing to support the Program, and we look forward to working with all of our facilitators and evaluators in 2015/2016.