In order to be called to the British Columbia Bar, applicants are required to complete a 12-month training program. The program, called the Law Society Admission Program (LSAP), consists of three components:
- nine months of articles;
- 10 weeks of full-time attendance at the Professional Legal Training Course (PLTC); and
- two qualification examinations based on the PLTC Practice Material and course work.
The LSAP is supervised and administered by the Credentials Committee of the Law Society. The purpose of the LSAP is “to ensure that students admitted to the Bar of BC are competent and fit to begin the practice of law”. The Law Society expects that the LSAP will “prepare students, in a practical way, to apply their legal knowledge, acquire and enhance practical skills and know-how, and develop a sense of professionalism that encompasses the values of the legal profession”.
Who is eligible to act as a principal?
The principal’s role as mentor is so significant to the professional education and guidance of the student and to the profession as a whole, that the Law Society, effective May, 2004, increased the number of years a principal is required to have practiced from four to seven years and limited the number of students a principal may have at one time. These changes and the pre-existing requirements that the placement be suitable and the principal be approved, recognize the value of principal’s mentorship of a student.
Law Society Rule 2-30 provides that to be eligible to serve as a principal to an articled student, a lawyer must have been in active practice of law in Canada:
- for at least seven of the 10 years immediately preceding the articling start date; and
- full-time for at least three of the five years immediately preceding the articling start date.
Of the seven years that the lawyer has spent in the active practice of law immediately preceding the articling start date, at least five of those years must have been spent in:
- British Columbia; or
- Yukon Territory, while the lawyer was a member of the Law Society of BC.
A lawyer may act as principal to no more than two articled students at one time.
In exceptional circumstances, the Credentials Committee may allow a lawyer who does not qualify under Rule 2-30 to act as a principal, or to act as principal to more than two articled students at one time.
What documents are required to enrol in LSAP?
The LSAP application package must be completed and filed with the Law Society at least 30 days before the LSAP enrolment start date: see Law Society Rule 2-27. You must submit the following:
- Application: Law Society Admission Program Enrolment;
- Articling Agreement (attached);
- official transcript sent directly from the university showing the actual granting of the LL.B. degree and grades, or NCA Certificate of Qualification if your legal qualifications have been acquired outside Canada; and
- enrolment fee (cheques payable and sent to the Law Society of BC) of $2,675.
An official transcript may be submitted at a later date only if you have recently graduated from law school and the university has not yet processed the granting of your LL.B. in time for the 30-day deadline. In this case, you must provide a letter from the Dean confirming that all requirements have been met. The official transcript must also be submitted as soon as it is available.
What training am I required to complete as part of the LSAP?
The Articling Agreement and Practice Checklist set out the Law Society’s expectations for fully rounded articles that will properly prepare the student for the practice of law. It is essential that the student receive multiple opportunities to practice lawyering skills (writing, drafting, problem solving, legal research, interviewing, alternative dispute resolution and advocacy) and gain experience in a variety of areas of practice. At a minimum, in addition to experience in these skills, the student must receive practical training and experience in no less than the three practice areas required by the Articling Skills and Practice Checklist.
Can I arrange for split or shared articles to complete the LSAP?
The Law Society Rules contemplate that students only have one principal at any given time; however, there are circumstances under which students can have more than one principal.
Secondments – Rule 2-38
If the firm has a narrow practice focus, it may not be possible for the student, within the firm, to obtain experience and instruction in all of the lawyering skills and a minimum of three areas of practice required by the Checklist. In that event, arrangements can be made with another lawyer, in a different firm, to increase the student’s range of experience. This can be done informally by a secondment for a period of up to eight weeks. Although the new supervising lawyer must also be qualified to act as a principal, no application to or approval by the Law Society is required. The Law Society should simply be informed by letter of the period during which the student will be attending another office. The Law Society, upon request, may also grant permission, with or without conditions, for an extension of the eight-week period of secondment. In that regard, a typical condition would be that the supervising lawyer provide a report confirming the duties of the articled student and commenting on his/her performance.
Assignment of Articles – Rule 2-39
When a student changes principals, he or she must apply to assign his or her articles to a new principal. Reasons for an assignment include an opportunity to gain varied experience, firm break-ups, the resignation or retirement of a principal, incompatibility between student and principal or future employment potential for the student. Such an assignment, if not anticipated, could occasionally pose a problem for the principal. Nevertheless, as the objective the articling experience is the training of a future lawyer, no principal should unreasonably withhold a request to assign articles.
If a principal refuses to complete the required forms for an assignment of articles because of personal conflicts with the student, the Law Society may dispense with the filing of the forms and allow the student’s application for an assignment to proceed without these documents.
There is no specific provision in the Rules for “shared articles” (for example, two days of the week with one principal and three days per week with another); however, the Credentials Committee has considered, and where appropriate approved, such requests. In the past, the Committee has permitted students to article in various circumstances if they are satisfied that the student will receive adequate and appropriate articles and supervision. When making submissions to the Committee for this type of arrangement, the student and prospective principals should address the issues of supervision, potential conflicts of interest, and how the student will obtain adequate articles.
Can I complete my articles on a part-time basis?
An applicant may apply under Rule 2-33 to complete some or all of the articles on a part-time basis by submitting to the Law Society at least two months before the enrolment start date:
- the enrolment application and enrolment fees; and
- a letter from the applicant and prospective principal setting out:
- the principal's express approval of the part-time arrangements;
- the type of experience to be provided to the student;
- the hours per day the student will work in the office of the principal; and
- the length of the proposed articling term.
The proposed articling term must be a continuous period that will give the student work experience equivalent to the regular nine-month articling period, and the articles must be completed within two years of the articling start date.
The part-time equivalent of the articling period must be calculated on the following basis:
- eight hours of scheduled work equals one day of articles; and
- no credit will be given for more than eight hours per day.
Any request to alter the above requirements must first be approved by the Credentials Committee at one of its regular monthly meetings.
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