AdvocateDaily.com: CPLED program provides lawyers a chance to give back
September 30, 2019
September 30, 2019
The Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education’s (CPLED) new bar admission program offers lawyers an opportunity to give back to their community, says the organization’s CEO Kara Mitchelmore.
The Practice Readiness Education Program (PREP) is designed to teach articling students the skills, abilities and behaviours they need to work effectively in the profession, before admission to the bar of Alberta, Manitoba or Saskatchewan.
CPLED is currently recruiting experienced lawyers to a variety of positions required by the program, ahead of its official launch next July.
“Many lawyers will be unaware of these different roles because they did not exist in the past,” Mitchelmore tells AdvocateDaily.com. “But as we try to get articling students to a position where they are functioning at entry-level competency by the time they come out of the program, it presents a chance for lawyers to give back to the legal community, or to mentor students.”
“There’s really something for everyone who wants to contribute,” adds CPLED’s Manager of Education, Christine Johnston, who explains that the program is being honed in pilot form ahead of the full launch next summer when around 800 students are expected to enrol.
“The feedback we get from lawyers involved at this preliminary stage is that they are learning just as much as the students,” she says. “They are very enthusiastic about the experience, and about being able to build better lawyers, which is something that helps us all.”
Lawyers from any firm or practice area are welcome to apply for the roles of facilitator, assessor or practice manager, as long as they have been a lawyer in good standing for at least five years.
“We’re focused on skills, not practice areas,” Johnston says. “It can also be a great experience for a student articling in a large firm to get the perspective of a practitioner from a smaller or rural practice, and vice versa.”
All positions are compensated, and lawyers may be able to count their hours towards their continuing professional development requirement, depending on the rules of their individual law societies.
“Remuneration is not going to be at bill rates, but we do invest in our recruits,” Mitchelmore says. “There’s a heavy training process we put everyone through, so there’s no need to worry about whether you’ll know what you’re doing.”
Here’s a summary of what each position involves:
Facilitators: Lawyers will provide feedback and organize activities for around 30 students participating in week-long face-to-face workshops to develop their negotiation, interviewing and other skills. “We’re looking for people who are happy in front of a group and enjoy connecting with people,” Johnston says. “They don’t necessarily have to be available for the entire week, but could opt-in for a day or two if they preferred.”
Assessors: Recruits will grade full or partial assignments handed out during virtual firm rotations. “This could be done remotely or from home,” Mitchelmore says. “It could be practical for a rural lawyer, a retired lawyer, or someone on paternity or maternity leave who wants to stay involved in the profession.”
Practice managers: “This is meant for those who like to coach or maintain ongoing mentor relationships with students,” Mitchelmore says, adding lawyers in this role are expected to give students additional guidance and feedback as they progress through PREP’s three-month virtual law firm rotation. “It’s about three hours per student, and we hope lawyers will take between five and 15 students so that it’s a robust experience for both parties,” Johnston adds.
In addition, CPLED is looking beyond the legal profession in its recruitment of “simulated clients” for students to serve during the program.
“This is something that other professions have been doing for years, but it’s new to the legal profession in Canada,” Johnston says.
Mitchelmore says simulated clients will receive training before being introduced to students, and she hopes that by recruiting people from all walks of life, they will be able to deliver a more diverse experience for trainees.