Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Law 21 and Articling for Law Grads in Ontario

Jordan Furlong, lawyer and editor-in-chief of the Canadian Bar Association's National magazine has a new blog, Law21, that came to my attention via Connie Crosby.

How can he miss, with a provocative profile teaser like this?

In the 21st century, the practice of law is shaking loose from its traditional moorings and heading out into uncharted territory. Opportunities abound, but so do pitfalls. Most of the old rules won’t apply anymore, while some will matter more than ever.

Welcome to the new legal profession, powered by collaboration, innovation, and client service. This is your front-row seat.

Mr. Furlong's comprehensive analysis of the Law Society of Upper Canada's current task force review of Ontario's bar admision and articling processes is a must read (Part 2 is here).

On the topic of articling, I'll quickly opine that it is nothing short of nutty to propose an abolition of the articling requirement for law school graduates.

If the primary issue is that articling jobs are hard to find, surely the Law Society brain trust can bang heads with the Attorney-General's office, Ontario's private law firms, the Legal Aid Plan and the various, cash-starved community legal assistance clinics throughout the Province to create numerically unlimited, supervised articling placements (pro-bono or subsidized) that will actually do something about the chronic access to justice difficulties in this Province.

I personally can't imagine where I would have been on day one of my law practice in 1986 absent the benefit of the mentorship I received during my own articles from Douglas Lissaman, Gordon Atlin and Richard Belsito. Twenty-plus years later, I am still influenced by their lessons and very different philosophies.

The practical apprenticeship component of legal training in this Province is not just an anachronistic throwback to a kinder, gentler era - it is a necessary step in preparing new professionals for practice in the real world.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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