October 21, 2012
The Council of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada has adopted a new national competency profile as a standard for admission to the legal profession. The vote occurred during the Council’s regular meeting in September, 2012.
“This important step of approving the National Competency Profile is the result of 2 years of focused, detailed work” says John J.L. Hunter, Q.C., President of the Federation. “The competency profile has now been formally referred to the law societies for their approval, subject to the development of a suitable implementation plan.”
To ensure that the National Competency Profile accurately reflected the knowledge, skills and abilities required for new members of the profession to practice competently, the Federation conducted a large-scale survey of members of the profession to help refine the proposed competencies. The survey tested the relevance and frequency of use of the proposed competencies.
This admissions initiative began in 2009 when the Council of the Federation approved a project to develop national standards for admission to the legal profession. It was initiated largely because of mobility, and the recognition that mobility of the profession makes it sensible to have the same standards for admission in all jurisdictions.
“To ensure we meet our mandate to regulate in the public interest, we need the assurance that all legal professionals practising in any Canadian jurisdiction have met the same standards of competence regardless of where they are first licensed”.
At their September meeting, Federation Council members also approved a plan for the next phase of this major national initiative. It will include an analysis of implementation options, and ongoing development of a national “good character” standard.
A group of law society policy and credentialing counsel has been working on a framework for a National Fitness and Suitability to Practise Standard that will address the good character requirement and issues related to medical fitness. A draft framework of the standard was included in the Phase One report.
“We plan for Phase Two to conclude with a detailed roadmap of the process for implementation, a plan to manage the transition to national standards, and identification of the resources that will be necessary to manage the implementation process” Mr. Hunter explained.