Report on Canadian Common Law Degree Requirements

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada Task Force on the Canadian Common Law Degree has submitted its final report [PDF]. According to the Report:

The Federation appointed this Task Force in June 2007 to review the existing academic requirements for entry to bar admission programs and to recommend any modifications that might be necessary.

The Report recommends, among other things, that the law societies across the country adopt a “uniform national requirement for entry to their bar admission programs.” The proposed national standard comprises requirements that direct themselves at Canadian law schools, effectively controlling aspects of the curriculum of those schools. The Council of Canadian Law Deans had expressed concern that any requirements established by law societies not be unnecessarily intrusive into the curriculum of law faculties. (The letter from Brent Cotter, President, is included as an appendix to the report.)

The proposed requirements address competencies in basic skills, awareness of ethical values, and basic legal knowledge. Applicants must have demonstrated competence in the following areas (addressed in detail in the report):

  • problem solving
  • legal research
  • oral and written legal communication
  • understanding ethical requirements for the practice of law
  • understanding of the complexity of the law and the interrelationship between different areas of legal knowledge
  • understanding the foundations of law
  • understanding of the core principles of public and private law

I notice that there’s no direct requirement that students have any particular ability concerning, or understanding of, technology.

My first quick reading of the report suggests that these competency requirements are not in and of themselves likely to be contentious, particularly given that the report does not suggest that each competency be correlated with a specific course. However, it seems that the report would require all that students, whether headed into practice or not, must acquire the listed competencies if the degree granted by the school is to be recognized at all. That is, the requirements are blanket requirements, rather than individual to students wishing to practice.

Only one of the 11 members of the Task Force is a full-time law teacher.


  1. Does this imply a review of the bar exams to ensure that they test the core competencies? The last time I looked, for instance, legal research was included in the Alberta bar training course, but not tested in the exam.