Conditions of Law School Approvals
As stated in the final report of the Common Law Degree Implementation Committee, Canadian law schools are entitled to comply with the National Requirement using two possible models:
- Program Approval Model
- Individual Student Approval Model
Program Approval Model
Law schools in Canada offer a variety of programs, including the traditional three full-time academic years or equivalent in course credits (presumptively 90 credits) J.D. or LL.B. program and joint degree programs. A law school that applies the Program Approval Model to a particular program will require that each graduate of that program meet the national requirement for entry to law society admission programs. These law schools will not permit students in these programs to have the option to graduate without having met the competency requirements.
In schools that apply the Program Approval Model to a given program, graduates from approved programs will by definition have met the competency requirements. In granting the degree the school will be confirming this. Schools that apply the Program Approval Model, generally, may also have joint degree programs for which they do not seek approval. The Individual Student Approval Model may be relevant to these programs.
Individual Student Approval Model (ISAM)
Traditionally, there are law school graduates who choose not to be licensed to practise law. There are a myriad of career paths for which a J.D. or LL.B. degree is invaluable, but for which a license to practise is unnecessary. Although the required competencies in the national requirement have been designed to allow, for example, additional opportunity for students to pursue their academic and intellectual interests in law school, it is possible that some students who do not want to be licensed to practise law would prefer not to satisfy all the required competencies. The Individual Student Approval Model will allow for this approach.
The Federation respects law schools’ right to foster this academic path for their students, which may be in keeping with the school’s objectives and mandate. Its only concern is that law societies be in a position to easily verify whether graduates from those programs, who do seek entry to law society admission programs, have met the required competencies.
If a school chooses the Program Approval Model for a given program, by definition every student granted a J.D. or LL.B. degree in an approved program will have met the competencies. If a school chooses the Individual Student Approval Model for a given program it will be necessary for individual transcripts for each graduate to indicate whether each student has met all the program requirements necessary to graduate, including having met the school’s required number of credit hours and fulfilled its compulsory courses or other requirements.
Where a school is following the Program Approval Model for a given program, this degree audit process will also include a determination that each student will have met the Federation’s competency requirements upon graduation. A graduate who has not met the national requirement and subsequently wishes to enter a law society admission program can fulfil the missing competencies through the NCA by obtaining a Certificate of Qualification. It will be necessary for that graduate to provide the NCA with an official document from its degree granting institution setting out which competencies must still be fulfilled.