The Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education, better known as CPLED, was founded as a non-profit organization on March 26, 2004, by Canada’s prairie law societies to develop a shared Bar admission education program to train and assess new lawyers entering the profession. Every law student must successfully take the program before being licensed to practise.
The organization was founded on the premise that the participating provincial regulators could build a better training program than they could build on their own by working together. The idea was to create a program combining the best online and in-person education and training.
The first version was launched in 2004, and each law society managed the delivery of the program in its jurisdiction. In 2016 the participating law societies conducted an external review of the program to see where improvements and updates could be made.
In 2018 CPLED began an exciting journey to develop and deliver an innovative and experiential legal education program focused on competency-based skills for newly admitted lawyers.
Lawyers face many challenges related to professionalism, ethical behaviour, communication skills and client management. CPLED was mandated to teach students the skills needed to succeed in practice. New lawyers require more than knowledge of the law; they must demonstrate multiple competencies and qualities that take a holistic look at the key elements needed to successfully practice law in Canada. CPLED updated its Competency Framework to develop its new Bar admission program. The Competency Framework consists of three critical categories:
- lawyer skills – what a lawyer does,
- practice and self-management skills – how a lawyer practices, and
- professional ethics and character skills – who a lawyer is and how they behave.
With the new Competency Framework, the CPLED CEO began the project to overhaul the Bar admission program and create the Practice Readiness Education Program (PREP). PREP was built on best practices from around the world to deliver practical skills and competencies in a consistent, integrated approach that combines interactive, transactional learning and simulation for its students. The program was piloted in 2019 and launched in 2020.
In September of 2019, the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society decided to implement PREP as the new Bar admission program within their jurisdiction. PREP launched in all four of its participating jurisdictions in June of 2020 to approximately 800 students.