Federation surveys new members of legal profession as part of National Admission Standards Project

(May 9, 2012) Starting on May 9, 2012, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada will be inviting new lawyers and Quebec notaries to participate in a large scale survey on the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to ensure that new members of the profession are competent to practise law.

The survey will test the validity of a draft competency profile, a key element of an initiative undertaken on behalf of Canada’s law societies to establish national standards for admission to the legal profession.“Law societies are mandated by provincial and territorial statute to regulate the legal profession in the public interest” notes Federation President John Hunter, Q.C.

“The duty of law societies to protect the public begins with ensuring that those admitted to the practice of law are competent and of good character.” “ With an increasingly mobile profession, consistency in admission standards is more important than ever, as admission to the profession in one province or territory effectively guarantees admission in all others” Mr. Hunter explains. “The goal of the National Admission Standards Project is to develop and implement standards for admission to practice that are consistent across the country.”

A profile of the competencies required on entry to the profession and a common standard for ensuring that applicants meet the requirement to be of good character are the first steps in the admission standards project. Working with a consultant with extensive expertise in credentialing, and staff from the law societies and the Federation, volunteers from the legal profession in all regions of Canada have prepared a draft competencies profile drawn, in part, from those already in use in a number of jurisdictions.

To ensure the validity of the profile and to assist in identifying the most critical competencies, the profile will be tested through a large-scale survey. The data from the survey will be used to refine the competency profile to reflect the knowledge, skills and abilities that new members of the profession actually need when they enter the practice of law.

Once the competency and good character standards have been agreed upon, the Federation and its member law societies will begin to consider the options for implementation of the standards. Canada’s 14 provincial and territorial law societies govern over 100,000 lawyers and 4,000 Quebec notaries in the public interest.

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada is their national coordinating body. The Federation leads the development of high national standards of regulation to ensure that all Canadians are served by a competent, honourable and independent legal profession.