The Mind of a CPLED-Trained Lawyer – CPLED’s new Competency Framework
August 6, 2019
August 6, 2019
To be called to the Bar, students require more than knowledge of the law; candidates must demonstrate that they have the competencies, skills and character to practice law to the highest standard.
New lawyers need to have the communication skills and understanding of how to practice law, as well as the empathy, compassion, integrity, respect, ethical practice and commitment to diversity to serve the public and their clients effectively.
As a part of the redesign of the Bar admission course for students in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education (CPLED) developed a new Competency Framework to help guide students, instructors, and assessors in understanding the specific skills and abilities the Practice Readiness Education Program (PREP) will help Bar-called lawyers develop over their articling period.
The CPLED Competency Framework focuses on the whole lawyer – what a lawyer does, how a lawyer practices and how a lawyer behaves.
From that first client meeting to closing the file, Bar-called lawyers must demonstrate that they can take a legal matter from start to finish through understanding their client’s unique situation, researching and analyzing potential options, executing a solution, and managing all the administrative and client management matters along the way. This takes more than knowledge of the law; it takes organization and discipline.
It also requires lawyers to communicate clearly with clients, the courts, colleagues and other stakeholders. Communication is more than plain language, or a well-crafted brief – it is about understanding your audience, showing empathy, communicating across different channels and making sure your message is understood, while taking care to listen.
Understanding how a legal practice works – from managing risk, to quality control, to the operation of trusts and billing – are all key competencies for new lawyers. All of this comes with demands to understand the technological tools used in today’s legal environment while keeping an eye on the trends that will shape that environment in the years ahead.
The CPLED Competency Framework is built to help students understand how a practice works, and how their work within a practice contributes to their success. From time management and project management, to managing relationships and files in a professional manner, students will learn how to be lawyers who are effective and efficient in their practice. A focus on self-awareness, empathy and resilience will help students balance their personal life with their workload.
Legal practice is about much more than knowing the law – it is also about acting to preserve the critical role of justice in our society. Earning the trust of your clients, colleagues and the public requires a life-long commitment to ethics, integrity, and fairness in all that you do.
CPLED’s Competency Framework prepares students by going beyond the ethical obligations outlined in the code of conduct to understanding the qualities and characteristics lawyers must embody to ensure that decision making is guided by ethics and integrity.
Having a new competency framework is just the start. For CPLED, providing the skills, training and experience necessary to exhibit these competencies starts with the Practice Readiness Education Program. From the first module to face-to-face workshops to the virtual law firm and final capstone, the educational experiences and the assessments are designed to develop and assess the extent to which students can master these competencies and be ready to be called to the Bar.
For more information on the CPLED Competency Framework, click here.