Law students in Western Canada paving a new path to the Bar
August 1, 2019
August 1, 2019
Calgary, Alberta (August 1, 2019)…Law school may be finished for students this spring, but court is definitely not in session. Across Canada, students are moving into articling terms and studying to meet the exhaustive requirements to be called to the Bar. It’s a decades old process steeped in tradition.
But does tradition really prepare graduates for the reality of legal practice in Canada today? Not according to the Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education (CPLED), a non-profit organization that provides the training required to students before being called to the Bar in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The organization has created the Practice Readiness Education Program (PREP) designed to turn today’s law school graduates into the lawyers of tomorrow, starting with a pilot that launched today.
“PREP is not about legal knowledge but about the practice of law,” says Dr. Kara Mitchelmore, CEO of CPLED. “PREP ensures that tomorrow’s lawyers can demonstrate that they meet the highest standards of practice management, professional ethics and good character.”
Built on best practices around the world, PREP delivers practical skills and competencies in an integrated approach that combines interactive, transactional learning and simulation. The program includes online modules, face-to-face workshops and something really unique – an interactive virtual law firm where students work as lawyers, managing cases in business law, criminal law, family law and real estate. Finally, students participate in a final capstone case and reflection before being called to the Bar.
PREP takes the student from reading about legal activities to doing them within the simulations, playing out real-life scenarios and learning from their mistakes and successes. Built by lawyers for lawyers, students explore solutions to legal problems in business, criminal, family and real estate law, all while receiving feedback from professional instructors and mentors.
According to Dr. Mitchelmore, the competencies are key. “We know that the complaints that come into law societies are rarely about knowledge of the law,” she said. “They are generally about professionalism, ethics and client interactions. That’s why it was so important to start with a new competency framework that clearly illustrates what we expect from our lawyers and underpins the entire educational program.”
“Ethics and professionalism are not ‘modules’ or ‘abstract discussions’ in PREP,” added Dr. Mitchelmore. “They are embedded within the simulations, so students experience what it is like in an actual practice situation and have to respond using all their skills and knowledge.”
The first pilot started today with 27 students in Alberta. A second pilot will take place in Manitoba in January.
PREP will roll out in 2020 to more than 700 students in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
The Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education (CPLED) is a non-profit organization that provides the training needed before being called to the Bars of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Law Societies in the participating provinces require students to article and complete the PREP program before becoming a lawyer.
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Backgrounder: The Mind of a Lawyer – a new Competency Framework
For more information, please contact:
Carly Thompson, Communications Advisor