After a comprehensive review, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada has announced revisions to the National Requirement that will go into effect January 1st, 2018. The National Requirement specifies the competencies and skills graduates must have attained and the learning resources and academic programs that law schools must have in place. It applies to both new and existing Canadian common law programs and to internationally educated candidates whose qualifications are assessed by the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA). Effective January 1st, the reference to “legal and fiduciary concepts in commercial relationships” will be deleted from the list of required private law knowledge competencies set out in paragraph 3.3(b) of Section B (Competency Requirements). In addition, the word “presumptively” will be removed from paragraph 1.1 of section C. The updated National Requirement is available here. As a result of the change to the National Requirement, the NCA’s assessment policy has been revised to remove the requirement for all NCA candidates to demonstrate competence in Business Organizations. The revised policy will apply to all NCA candidates whose files are ready to be assessed on or after January 1st, 2018. The National Requirement was adopted by the Council of the Federation in 2009. Approved by Canada’s law societies in 2010, it came into effect on January 1, 2015. The National Requirement must be reviewed at least every five years with the first review to be completed by 2018. The first review, carried out by the National Requirement Review Committee (NRRC), included consultation with a wide variety of stakeholders. The NRRC’s report was issued in April 2017.
After a thorough review, the Common Law Program Approval Committee of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada has granted preliminary approval of a proposed new law program at Ryerson University. In approving the proposed program the Federation’s Canadian Common Law Program Approval Committee identified three concerns that it will monitor in subsequent reviews. The Approval Committee has a mandate to determine whether a proposed law school program would produce graduates competent for admission to law society bar admission programs. All approved Canadian common law programs must adhere to a National Requirement set by the Federation and the law societies that outlines the knowledge and skills competencies that applicants for entry to the bar admission programs in the Canadian common law jurisdictions must possess. Until it produces its first graduates, a program that complies with the National Requirement can be granted preliminary approval only and will be subject to regular reviews. The concerns that will be monitored by the Approval Committee in these reviews relate to Ryerson’s faculty complement, program funding resources, and physical resources available to faculty and staff. Approval of the academic program is only one phase in the development of a new law school in Canada. Provincial government authorities decide whether universities can offer specific degree programs. In Ontario, pursuant to the Degree Granting Act, a proposed program must be approved by the Ontario Minister of Colleges and Universities. The Approval Committee’s report on the Ryerson program is available on the Federation web site. Additional information about the Federation’s common law program approval process and the National Requirement is available here. The Federation of Law Societies of Canada is the national coordinating body of Canada’s 14 provincial and territorial law societies, which regulate more than 117,000 lawyers, 4,500 Quebec notaries, and Ontario’s nearly 8,000 licensed paralegals in the public interest.
The Federation of Law Societies of Canada is pleased to announce that Sheila MacPherson of Yellowknife has been elected President for 2017-2018. Sheila is a partner with the firm of Lawson Lundell LLP and is responsible for the management of their Yellowknife office. She is a civil litigator with 30 years of litigation experience and works extensively in both the Northwest Territories and in Nunavut. She also serves as the Law Clerk to the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories. Ms. MacPherson joined the Federation Council as the nominee of the Law Society of the Northwest Territories in 2011. She was previously active in the Law Society, having served as President in 1997 and 2011. A graduate of Dalhousie University’s school of law in 1987, she was admitted to the Law Society of the Northwest Territories in 1988 and to the Law Society of Nunavut in 1999. She is a life long northerner, having lived in both Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. “I am honoured to lead the Federation” Ms. MacPherson says. “I look forward to advancing our Strategic Plan including our efforts to update national rules to fight money laundering and terrorist financing, as well as responding to the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as they relate to the legal profession.” She added, “It has been said that the most significant challenge facing Canadians today is reconciliation with our Indigenous population, and this is as true of the legal profession as in any other aspect of Canadian life.” Another key priority, the Federation President says, is moving forward to implement recommendations arising from the Federation’s program review of the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA). The NCA is responsible for assessing the credentials of foreign trained law graduates. You may also consult our media release in PDF format.
The Federation of Law Societies has launched a public consultation on proposed amendments to the Model Code of Professional Conduct, addressing issues related primarily to technological competence and the return to the practice of law by former judges. Prepared by the Standing Committee on the Model Code, the proposed changes were developed to better reflect current legal practice and ethics. The deadline for responses to the request for comments is May 30, 2017. Technological issues are not currently specifically addressed in the Model Code. Given the proliferation of technology, the proposed amendment has been drafted to counsel members of the legal profession on the need for technological competence appropriate for their own practice area. The review of the relevant Model Code rules relating to judges retiring and returning to practice began in 2015, when concerns were raised by the legal ethics academy and the courts. The Federation committee took into consideration corresponding rules in the provincial and territorial rules of professional conduct, academic literature, and international approaches to the regulation of post-judicial conduct. The committee also reviewed feedback received from key stakeholders in response to a discussion paper on the issue circulated in May 2016. The proposed new rule concerning the recruitment of judges discourages law firms or lawyers from recruiting or engaging in discussions with a judge concerning a potential business or employment relationship, given the possible judicial conflicts of interest that may arise and the potential to compromise the appearance of judicial independence. It allows, however, for the recruitment of former judges, subject to the conflict of interest provisions and related principles outlined in the Code. The proposed rule on Former Judges Returning to Practice would bar former provincial, territorial or federally appointed judges, from communicating with or appearing as a lawyer before any Canadian court or tribunal, with the permission of the law society in the relevant jurisdiction. The proposed rule would permit former judges to mentor, support, coach and teach others how to better advocate before, or correspond with, a court. After the consultation, further amendments may be made in response to the feedback received, with final amendments to be presented to the Council of the Federation for approval in December 2017 and then submitted to the law societies for adoption and implementation.