Distinguished Service Awards

 Legal News: Alberta, News  Comments Off on Distinguished Service Awards
Nov 282016

Distinguished Service Awards 2017Distinguished Service Awards 2017

Nominations for the 2017 Distinguished Service Awards are due this Wednesday, November 30, 2016. 

These prestigious awards, presented by the Law Society of Alberta and the Canadian Bar Association – Alberta, recognize Alberta lawyers for the remarkable contributions they provide.


If you are a member of the legal profession, you may be eligible to submit a nomination in one of the following four categories:

  1. Legal Scholarship
  2. Pro Bono Legal Service
  3. Service to the Community
  4. Service to the Profession

The awards are chosen by a selection committee comprised of Law Society and Canadian Bar Association – Alberta Branch representatives and members of the legal/academic community. Awards recipients are chosen based on the following selection criteria:

  • role model for other lawyers,
  • dedication,
  • results achieved,
  • creativity,
  • initiative,
  • individual achievement,
  • obstacles overcome,
  • significance of achievement,
  • impact, and
  • effective contribution to the role of law in society.

Additional Information

Don’t miss the opportunity to be recognized for your hard work and dedication to Alberta’s legal community. Click here for more information.

If you have questions or concerns, contact:
Distinguished Service Awards
Canadian Bar Association – Alberta Branch
710, 777 – 8 Avenue SW
Calgary, AB T2P 3R5
P: 403.263.3707, F: 403.265.8581



Aug 082016

***UPDATE: The Early Bird deadline has been extended!

Register on or before August 31 to take advantage of discounted pricing.***

An exciting year of LESA programming is on its way and today’s Weekly Program Feature highlights the first 2 programs out of the gate:

  • Being an Excellent Principal; and
  • Delivering Effective Feedback.

Read more about these programs below.

Being an Excellent Principal


A student’s articling year can be operose, but it is often one of the most important years in a lawyer’s career. Join us September 13 (Calgary) or September 20 (Edmonton) for Being an Excellent Principal, and unearth methods for assisting students in the management of common challenges they’ll face while articling.

This complimentary half-day program is designed for principals, mentors, and those in student coordinator positions. Discover various resources and strategies available to you and your students with the help of the Law Society of Alberta, CPLED, and Assist.

Don’t miss the opportunity to gain a wealth of knowledge that will help you lead your students to success! Register to reserve your spot in Being an Excellent Principal.

Delivering Effective Feedback

Dealing with defensive employees, high-stress situations, and challenging issues can make delivering effective feedback a challenge. Join seminar chair Molly Naber-Sykes QC and experienced faculty in this half-day program, and uncover proven strategies and methods for delivering constructive feedback.

This interactive program is designed for those in supervisory positions, but may also be of interest to anyone who is looking to enhance their skills in the provision of feedback in every-day life.

Register for Delivering Effective Feedback before August 31, to receive the Early Bird discount.

LSA Rules Amendments

 Legal News: Alberta, News  Comments Off on LSA Rules Amendments
Jun 212016

LSA Rules Amendments

The Rules of the Law Society of Alberta (LSA) [the Rules] were recently amended. The changes took effect on February 4, 2016. Key among the changes was the addition of a new rule (r 165.1) for an administrative rules suspension, which is intended by the LSA to streamline the reinstatement process for members who have been administratively suspended for non-payment of fees.


Under the new r 165.1, an administrative suspension occurs where a member of the LSA is subject to a rules suspension (defined in r 167(1)(b) as a suspension of membership imposed by the operation of rules 148, 149.3, or 165). Taken together, these rules mean that the non-payment of membership fees, professional liability insurance levies, or trust safety insurance levies will result in an administrative suspension.

Members of the LSA who are subject to administrative suspensions have 15 days from the date of the suspension to either make arrangements for an active practicing member of the LSA to assume conduct of the suspended member’s files, or to seek reinstatement through compliance with the rules and payment of outstanding fees or levies. Suspended members seeking reinstatement are also required to pay a suspension transaction fee (for the 2016 year, this fee was $236.25, inclusive of GST), though this fee may be waived by the Executive Director in some circumstances.

If the suspended member does not make the necessary arrangements or seek reinstatement within 15 days of the suspension, a Notice to the Profession of the member’s administrative suspension will be issued (for previously active members only), and a custodian will be appointed by the LSA for that member’s practice.

Members subject to administrative suspensions must seek reinstatement within 3 months from the date of suspension, in order to avoid the more onerous formal application for reinstatement, as set out in r 115.

More Information

For more information about the recent amendments to the Rules, and for a complete list of the changes, see the Rules Amendment History and the current version of the Rules (2016_V1).

Gain Tips & Info in Criminal Advocacy – Experts

 Calgary, Edmonton, LESA Update, Upcoming Seminars  Comments Off on Gain Tips & Info in Criminal Advocacy – Experts
Mar 232016

Criminal Advocacy – Experts

Are you interested in learning how to face complex trials using expert evidence? If so, Criminal Advocacy – Experts has plenty to offer!

At this program, you’ll discover important insights from the various perspectives of the Crown, the Defence, and the Bench – all of which will help you refine your own practice, whether you are crown prosecutor or a defence lawyer.

You’ll hear from seminar chair Karen E. Hewitt QC as well as other program faculty:

Hon. Justice T.D. Clackson

Dino Bottos

Peter Royal QC

Inspector Dan Jones

Today’s blog passes on insights that Karen recently shared with us about the program to give you a sense of what you’ll gain from this seminar.

Who Should Attend?

As Karen explains, this full day, intensive program addresses crucial CPD requirements laid out by the Law Society of Alberta, touching on the areas of ethics and professionalism, substantive legal knowledge, oral and written advocacy, and more. Since every lawyer’s CPD Plan needs to address these competencies, attending this program is a great way to start fulfilling your 2016 CPD requirements.

Because this program goes beyond the basics to discuss more intermediate-level topics, it is targeted to practitioners with 5+ years of experience in criminal law. However, Karen notes that there are benefits for anyone working through a complex court case.

It will be good for juniors as well, because … junior practitioners are increasingly facing complex trials where expert evidence is part of the trial itself.”

Seminar Goals

According to Karen, Criminal Advocacy – Experts will be “packed with information, discussion, demonstration, and panel review.” Karen sums up the value of the program in this way:

This course is … going to provide a strong foundation for the evolution of expert evidence, the current issues in approaching the evidence, and the substantive procedural considerations. … [It’s also] going to talk about strategic use of this evidence in structuring the trial and being effective with the trier fact. That’s the key here.”

Karen laid out the key program goals and learning outcomes that you’ll take away from the seminar:

  1. Evaluate the evidence. Learn to “determine when expert evidence is an appropriate evidentiary consideration in a criminal case.”
  2. Prepare your case. Discover how prepare in anticipation of both “calling the evidence and challenging it, if and when, called by the opposing council.”
  3. Set the scope. Determine how to set the scope of the evidence “in terms of issues to be addressed and qualifications of the expert.”
  4. Understand shifting judicial roles. Explore the “potential shift of the role of the trial judge and issues that must now be considered as a result of the White decision.”
  5. Lay a factual foundation. Recognize how to prepare your case and lay a foundation “from which the expert will offer the opinion evidence” – including a discussion of “preservation of evidence, the potential for spoliation, and the impact of the evidence in terms of the expert and the case itself.”
Demonstration Voir Dire

While you’ll benefit from hearing the discussion from each presenter, you’ll also take away tips and tricks from an in-course demonstration of a voir dire.

Here’s what Karen had to say about this unique program component that brings in the expertise of Inspector Dan Jones of the Edmonton Police Service.

Dan Jones … has been qualified in court a number of times as an expert. He will be participating in the demonstration voir dire, in which we will be addressing the issue of scope, use of evidence, and potential for bias. He will be offering a perspective … into what the expectations are of the expert both in pre-trial preparation as well as what happens on the stand and how to give a balanced, fair, and truthful opinion.”

Register Online

For more information on Criminal Advocacy – Experts, check out the program brochure.

To take advantage of early bird prices, register by April 12 to attend in Calgary (May 14) or Edmonton (May 28).

We look forward to seeing you!

Feb 292016

March 2016: Upcoming Legal Events

It’s hard to believe that March is upon us, but it’s here and it’s a busy month at LESA! Check out today’s blog to so you don’t miss any key dates or events.

March Programs

Advanced Estate – PROGRAM FULL
Runs in Edmonton (March 1) and in Calgary (March 9).

  • Delve into advanced estate topics with other experienced wills & estates practitioners.

Advanced Lender
Register online to attend in Edmonton (March 2) or Calgary (March 10).

  • Discuss current banking and finance issues with other senior practitioners who work exclusively or predominately in the area of lender/borrower.
  • Read the blog with seminar chair Kerry Day QC to learn what you’ll gain from this program and what topics will be covered this year.

Family Law 25
Register online to attend in Edmonton (March 3) or Calgary (March 10).

  • Review the top 5 cases relevant to 5 pressing family law issues: parenting, child support, spousal support, matrimonial property, and unjust enrichment. Also discover tax tips relevant to each topic.
  • Read the blog with seminar chair Marla Miller QC to discover the top 5 most valuable takeaways you’ll walk away with after attending this program.
Registration Savings

Special early bird discounts are ending soon for the following programs. Register now and save!

Enduring Powers of Attorney and Personal Directives – ENDS March 1
Register online to attend in Edmonton (April 5) or Calgary (April 12).

  • Examine both the common and the extraordinary issues you face when dealing with enduring powers of attorney and personal directives.
  • Read the blog for more information on the topics covered and the range of perspectives addressed.

Unanimous Shareholder Agreement Disputes – ENDS March 1
Register online to attend in Edmonton (April 6) or Calgary (April 20).

  • Discover information, tips, and best practices for dealing with (and helping prevent) shareholder disputes.
  • Read the blog with seminar chair Bryan Haynes to hear more about top program topics and takeaways.

Legal Project Management – ENDS March 8
Register online to attend in Edmonton (April 13) or Calgary (April 14).

  • Explore project management principles that can help build your practice, increase your efficiency, and keep your clients satisfied.
  • Read the blog with presenter Pamela Woldow to learn more about what project management is, why you’ll want to add these concepts to your practice management tool box, and what you’ll gain from this program.

Questioning – ENDS March 15
Register online to attend in Edmonton (April 19) or Calgary (April 28).

  • Review the scope of questioning, and discuss the use of questioning evidence, cross examination, exhibits, documents, and undertakings.
CPLED Update

Do you need to register for next year’s CPLED Program? 2016/2017 registration opens March 1.

There are several 2015/2016 CPLED modules running this month:

  • Ethics & Professionalism. This online module runs March 3 to March 10.
  • Negotiations & Practice Fundamental. This face-to-face module runs in Calgary (March 14–18) and in Edmonton (March 21–22).

If you are a current student with questions about either of these modules, please contact LESA’s Student Coordinator Ashley Iachetta at 780.969.3557 or ashley.iachetta@lesa.org.

Legal Community: Dates and Deadlines

CPA Assist Speaker Series – Running on Empty: Understanding Family Caregiver Fatigue
Attend this Alberta Lawyers’ Assistance Society (Assist) program in Calgary (March 2) or Edmonton (March 3) to learn more about the challenges family caregivers face and strategies for staying healthy while juggling these demands. Learn more in our recent blog post.

Declare Your CPD Plan
All lawyers are required to submit a CPD Plan (Continuing Professional Development Plan) to the Law Society of Alberta by March 15.

LESA Summer Students Wanted
Interested applicants can learn more in our recent blog post. Apply by March 21 to Daniel García at daniel.garcia@lesa.org.

2016 Distinguished Service Award Recipients

 Awards and Accolades, Legal News: Alberta, LESA Update, News  Comments Off on 2016 Distinguished Service Award Recipients
Jan 082016

2016 Distinguished Service Award RecipientsYesterday the Law Society of Alberta and CBA Alberta announced the 2016 Distinguished Service Award Recipients. These annual awards recognize outstanding members of the legal profession in four key areas.

Congratulations to the 2016 Distinguished Service Award recipients:

As an organization that couldn’t operate without the support of our volunteers, LESA understands and appreciates the incredible amount of dedication, time, and effort that so many lawyers pour back into the profession and the community.

With our roughly 600 volunteer placements a year, we have the opportunity to work with many of you, and we’re particularly excited to see two of our active supporters honoured as 2016 award recipients. Both Christine Pratt and Michelle C. Christopher have been involved in the CPLED Program for several years. Congratulations to you both!

Thank you to everyone who gives back to the profession. In particular, we offer a hearty thank you to all of the award nominees and kudos to each of the 2016 Distinguished Service Award recipients.

We’re looking forward to offering our congratulations again during the official awards ceremony at the upcoming Alberta Law Conference. If you’re also attending the conference, make sure you stop by our LESA exhibitor booth to say hi and pick up your coupon for incredible savings on our programs and resources.

LESA Turns 40!

 LESA Update  Comments Off on LESA Turns 40!
Nov 192015

LESA is celebrating 40 years!LESA is celebrating a special milestone today – our 40th anniversary as an organization!

The Legal Education Society of Alberta was incorporated as a non-profit society 40 years ago today, on November 19, 1975. Today’s blog will take you through a brief history of our first 40 years. Enjoy the travel back in time!

A Brief History

In 1964, the Law Society of Alberta arranged the first bar admission courses in Alberta – a decision that eventually led to the creation of LESA, when, in 1975, the Law Society identified overlap between its own bar admission activities and the professional development opportunities provided by CBA Alberta. To streamline these efforts, the Law Society recommended establishing an independent organization that would facilitate both bar admission courses and continuing legal education for the profession.

Peter Owen QC served as LESA’s first Executive Director from 1976–1979, locating LESA’s offices in downtown Edmonton in order to be close to those practicing in the profession. When William Galloway took the job of Executive Director (which he held until 1983), he worked to develop LESA’s connections in Calgary, where he was located. With offices in both Edmonton and Calgary, program responsibilities were divided between the two locations. Galloway was followed by Professor John Law, who held the office of Executive Director for 9 months. At this time, LESA moved its Edmonton offices into space at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Law.

Next, in 1984, Hugh A. Robertson QC became Executive Director and ushered in a new era of LESA’s growth. He was instrumental in developing LESA’s relationships with other continuing legal education providers, through LESA’s association with groups like ACLEA and the CBA’s International Initiatives. Paul F. Wood QC then succeeded Hugh Robertson in 2008, helping to expand access to LESA’s programs through our Access Bursaries, which offer registration discounts for those who have to travel long distances to attend in-person programs. Jennifer Flynn stepped into the role of LESA’s current Executive Director in 2013, and she has worked tirelessly to expand the availability and quality of LESA’s offerings – both in regards to our live seminars as well as our print and digital resources. One of the most significant recent developments LESA has seen under her watch is the launch of the LESA Library – a comprehensive, online resource – that was opened to the profession on September 30, 2015.

Although its responsibilities, functions, and mandate have evolved over time, LESA continues to maintain relationships with the various organizations involved in its founding. From the beginning, LESA’s Board of Directors has included representatives from other organizations that have an interest in the activities under LESA’s purview, including CBA Alberta, the Law Society, the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, and other members of the legal community. LESA continues to work with the universities on some of our ongoing programming: the annual Constitutional Law Symposium is held in conjunction with the Centre for Constitutional Studies at the University of Alberta and the Intensive Advocacy program (which is going into its 34th year in 2016) is hosted at the University of Calgary. Our longstanding relationship with the Law Society now sees us deliver the CPLED Program (Alberta’s bar admission program) on their behalf. We also work with them to identify educational needs, including having Practice Advisors speak at our seminars, amongst other things.

LESA’s Mandate

Its original mandate tasked LESA with educating students-at-law and members of the legal profession as well as the general public. Today, LESA continues to focus on providing quality in-person education to the whole range of legal professionals – lawyers, students-at-law, and legal support staff – while also preparing quality resources, in both print and digital formats. In its early days, LESA contributed to public legal education by making its educational resource materials available to other organizations that played a role in educating the public. Through the years, other public legal education efforts involved contributions to a Calgary Herald column (“Legally Speaking”) and a program called Saturday Morning at the Law School (held in both Edmonton and Calgary), but by 1999, public legal education was removed from LESA’s mandate, allowing LESA to focus all of its resources on educating the profession.

Continuing Legal Education – Live Events

The goal of helping practicing lawyers and their support staff refresh their knowledge and update their skills has been at the heart of LESA since the beginning. Even from the start LESA’s seminars have been highly valued by the profession: in 1976/1977 1,650 lawyers participated in our programs, by 1978/1979 that number had already climbed to 2,559 lawyers and 966 paralegals.

In the past few years, LESA’s program offerings have grown substantially, with approximately 3,700 seminar registrants attending an average of 40 distinct programs offered each year (most of which are held in both Edmonton and Calgary, with some programs held in other centres, such as Red Deer and Lethbridge). This year, in 2015/2016, LESA is offering over 45 live events, more than ever before!

CPLED Program – Bar Admission Training

While bar admission training has changed greatly over the years, one thing has remained constant: providing quality education for students-at-law has occupied much of LESA’s time and resources. Today, this training is offered as the CPLED Program, and LESA has several full time staff committed to the program delivery, assisting both the students taking the Program and the lawyers who provide the education in the online and face-to-face modules.

Recent years have seen over 400 students enter the CPLED Program each year, with 2014/2015 boasting a record breaking 478 students. These students complete 3 face-to-face modules, 7 online modules, and 1 online self-study course. This means that each year LESA administers around 1,400 in-person learning exercise, more than 2,500 assignments, and approximately 5,000 competency evaluations, while coordinating roughly 45 learning group facilitators and evaluators.

Educational Resources – Print and Digital

LESA’s first formal publishing venture was single volume Alberta Law for the 80s, a joint project between LESA and Butterworths that eventually turned into a 3 volume publication. By 1986 the publications program had grown large enough to require establishing a Director of Publications position. We have now sold over 5,600 books in our Practice Manual Series – not counting updates – along with thousands of other publications.

Since 2014, LESA has expanded its online resources in two significant ways:

  1. We have grown our Educational Resources to include about 30 offerings – including seminars on demand (that allow viewers to stream video recordings of seminar presenters and download course materials as PDFs) and online courses (that allow users to access information in a self-study module format).
  2. We have launched the LESA Library, an online resource that allows users to access Alberta-specific legal information, anytime, anywhere – all for one low price. Annual subscriptions to the LESA Library provide users with seminar papers as well as Practice Manual series and Fundamental series content (including precedents, checklists, and fillable forms).

To Conclude

There’s so much more we could say about what LESA is doing now and where we have come from in the past, but we’ll wrap things up by saying that we are forever grateful to the volunteers who generously donate their time, knowledge, and abilities to help make our seminars, CPLED Program, and educational resources run smoothly.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the trip down memory lane and learned a thing or two you didn’t know about LESA. Thanks for reading!

Nominate a Colleague: 2016 Distinguished Service Awards

 Awards and Accolades, Lawyer Recognition, Legal News: Alberta, News  Comments Off on Nominate a Colleague: 2016 Distinguished Service Awards
Oct 142015

2016 Distinguished Service Awards logoEvery year the Law Society of Alberta and CBA Alberta recognize outstanding members of the legal community with Distinguished Service Awards.

Award nominations are accepted in 4 categories:
1.    Service to the Community
2.    Service to the Profession
3.    Legal Scholarship
4.    Pro Bono Service

If you know a colleague whose dedication, creativity, and initiative result in significant contributions in one of the above 4 categories, you are invited to submit a 2016 Distinguished Service Award nomination by November 14, 2015.

You can find the online nomination form, eligibility requirements, selection criteria, submission information, and a list of prior award recipients on the Law Society of Alberta’s website.

For more information, contact the Law Society of Alberta’s Communications Advisor Avery Buye at 403.930.7204 or avery.buye@lawsociety.ab.ca.

SoloNet – Building an Alberta Practice Community

 Edmonton, Legal News: Alberta, LESA Update, News, Upcoming Seminars  Comments Off on SoloNet – Building an Alberta Practice Community
Oct 092015


Have you heard of SoloNet? If not, today’s LESA blog will fill you in on why roughly 380 sole practitioners and small firm Alberta lawyers have already joined this online community and why you should think about joining too.

We spoke to the Law Society of Alberta’s Jocelyn Frazer to learn more about how SoloNet allows lawyers to connect with each other to share valuable resources and build a community of practice.

SoloNet is an online community for lawyers who are in sole practice or in regional practice settings to connect and share practice information. … Lawyers can post emails. It’s like a list serve, but it’s not. … Lawyers can introduce themselves and raise issues of concern for them, so the topics range in variety. It could be practice issues relating to substantive questions, procedural issues, or somebody might be looking for recommendations for a book keeper. The conversations depend on the issues that are burning for each individual member, but there’s a wide range of topics. They can range from “How do I handle a difficult lawyer on the other side?” to “Where could I find a precedent?” and people do share precedents or make references to case law. Obviously, lawyers are responsible for their own content, and they need to exercise their own judgement when using the information, but it’s a way of sharing information among people who are in similar practice settings.”

While there are many benefits to SoloNet users, here are the top 4 reasons it makes sense to join:

1. Gain a community.

As Jocelyn explains, this is one of the benefits that SoloNet users are most grateful for.

Lawyers who are on their own may not always feel comfortable reaching out to people who work in large law firms, or may have limited access to different networking opportunities; they’re outside of the downtown area, for example, so CBA and other professional memberships may be less available to them. We’ve had conversations or comments on SoloNet that it’s like being in a big firm or like having a watercooler: you just ask people a question. So often when you’re in sole practice that is what you miss: just having a group of colleagues that you can bounce ideas off of.”

2. Discuss the issues that impact your practice.

With the range of practitioners on SoloNet, the shared conversations, suggestions, and resources touch on many different areas of law.

There is a real variety … [of] lawyers from many different areas of practice. Conversations with respect to wills & estates, real estate, and family law certainly seem to be paramount, but there will be business law questions, tax questions, … [and questions about] general practice management issues. The lawyers who participate are from a wide range of practice areas and levels of seniority; there are people ranging from articling students to very senior practitioners in certain areas.”

3. It is a forum for open conversations.

Lawyers should realize that SoloNet is meant to provide a platform for practitioners to discuss the issues that they need to find solutions for.

I think it’s important to say that the Law Society does not moderate the conversation, that it’s a confidential environment for lawyers. While we provide the infrastructure for SoloNet [and] the Practice Advisors participate from time to time, it’s separate from the regulatory environment of the Law Society. You don’t have people in the conduct department reading the conversation.”

4. It is free to join.

The resource is available at no cost to Law Society of Alberta members who work in solo or small firm settings.

You can learn more about registering for SoloNet on the Law Society’s website.

Save on Law and Practice Update

If you are a sole or small firm practitioner, you’ll find another resource developed with you in mind in LESA’s upcoming Law and Practice Update program. This two-day seminar offers substantive updates in 5 areas of the law, discusses practice management topics, and offers you opportunities to network with your colleagues. You can learn more about the Law and Practice Update in our blog with seminar chair Ingrid Meier or in the program brochure.

SoloNet users are in for a treat: there is special $100 registration discount available for you! Find the discount code on SoloNet, and register online to reserve your spot in the program.

Articling Student Education Plan Changes – Competency

 CPLED, Legal News: Alberta, LESA Update, News  Comments Off on Articling Student Education Plan Changes – Competency
Jun 102015


On May 22, 2015, the Law Society of Alberta (LSA) announced changes to the articling student Education Plan (Form 2-5, 2-6), which sets out the LSA’s requirements for what a student-at-law must cover while articling. These changes came into effect on June 1.

These changes mark the first major shift in the LSA’s approach to the articling program in several decades. Previously, the LSA’s Education Plan required articling students to cover and be supervised in 5 out of 7 substantive areas of law: real estate, civil litigation, criminal law, family law, business law, wills & estates, and administrative law.

Now, instead of focusing on these substantive categories, the LSA’s Education Plan requires students to experience a broad range of basic lawyering skills, regardless of the area of law in which these skills are developed. Under the new program, it is possible to complete an article in only 1 area of law, so long as all of the required skill sets are covered.

The new Education Plan identifies 5 specific competency areas that articling students must develop during their articling year:

  • Ethics and professionalism,
  • Practice management,
  • Client relationship management,
  • Conducting matters, and
  • Adjudication/alternative dispute resolution.

The Education Plan lists different tasks—exemplary, not all required—that a student should be exposed to in each of these areas. For example, under the ethics and professionalism competency area, students are encouraged to take part in learning activities such as discussing ethical issues with their principals, discussing strategies for making informed and reasoned decisions about ethical issues, and identifying potential conflict of interest issues. Under the conducting matters competency area, students are encouraged to gather facts through interviews, conduct legal research and analysis, and draft a range of documents. In other words, the focus of the articling year has shifted from experiencing multiple areas of law to developing competencies that are fundamental to an entry-level lawyer.

These changes to the Education Plan were driven, in large part, by a 2012 initiative of the Council of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. This initiative led to a set of national entry-level competencies for admission to the bar. While developing these competencies, the Council identified a full range of knowledge, skills, and tasks required by entry-level lawyers and ranked their importance based on frequency and criticality—that is, how often the skills are used and how badly things go wrong if they are used incorrectly. Based on this list, the Council developed its entry-level competency standards.

The Law Society of Alberta joined twelve other law societies in adopting the national competency standards, subject to a plan for implementation. As part of adopting these standards, the LSA is striving to ensure that articling students have the opportunity to develop each competency. Competency training related to certain areas of legal knowledge, skills, and some tasks is already the focus of law school and the CPLED Program. However, some competencies are best developed in an authentic practice context. What better way to expose students to many practice fundamentals than through the articling year?

For students, the biggest change resulting from the LSA’s new Education Plan will undoubtedly be the ability to pursue an article that covers fewer substantive areas of law. Fewer and fewer firms have a general practice base, so a move towards task-oriented educational goals will open up new articling opportunities with lawyers and firms who otherwise could not meet the substantive requirements of the old Education Plan.

More broadly speaking, the new Education Plan’s focus on competencies should also enable law students to leave their articling year with a well-rounded set of skills, ensuring that they are well-versed in the basic tasks behind a legal practice as well as substantive knowledge and practical skills.

Allison Boutillier
LESA Summer Student