Articling Fees and Access to Justice

Yesterday morning, thousands of third-year law students across Ontario each received invoices totalling $4,859 for the articling licensing process (an increase of 79% from last year’s fee of $2,712). I was one of the lucky ones; after having a brief panic attack, I was able to forward the invoices to the law firm at which I will be articling to have them paid off. But for many, the fees present yet another barrier to entry into an already restrictive profession.

The increased fees, of course, restrict fair access to the legal profession – many students are forced to take out further loans to pay licensing fees even after their education is complete, simply because their employers cannot or will not pay candidate licensing fees. However, wider implications stem from the fact that increasing licensing fees further limits access to justice. By putting pressure on employers and students to pay higher fees, we force students off the paths that deal with every-day legal problems and encourage them to pursue high-paying careers that have little impact on the access to justice crisis. This is particularly problematic in the context of students graduating with ever-increasing law school debt: as students look to make crucial career decisions while graduating, the added – and somewhat unexpected – weight of almost $5,000 in licensing fees has a disproportionate impact on shaping legal career paths. The current strategy of proposing that firms encourage pro bono legal work attacks the symptoms of restricted access to justice, rather than the cause: the lack of affordable lawyers.

A March 2012 report published by LSUC highlights the connection between articling and access to justice, concluding that there is a shortage of access to justice-oriented articling positions. This derives, in part, from the economics of the small firms who are the major providers of legal services for day-to-day legal problems; few such firms can afford to offer articling positions to students. Moreover, given the massive debt with which many articling students leave law school, too few are able to choose freely to accept lower-wage positions that have higher social impact than higher-paying positions. Higher fees will serve to further decrease the number of employers that can afford to pay licensing fees for articling students, and will also prevent students from being able to accept positions where employers cannot pay their fees.

One of the reasons for the massive increase in fees over last year is the implementation of the Law Practice Program (LPP), which is designed to be an alternative to the articling process. The actual impact of the LPP in the context of these added fees, however, will be to doubly penalize its candidates: first, they will have to pay their fees out of pocket, instead of being able to expect an employer to pay such fees for them; and second, they will face potential discrimination as graduates of the LPP rather than students who have completed articling. Many such students whom I know personally have indicated their intentions to take out further student loans to fund the process, or to take a year off from law in order to raise the funds they need to complete the program (or to potentially find an articling employer). This defeats the point of the LPP and further penalizes poorer students who already face barriers to entering the legal profession.

Even for students who have secured articling positions, the increase in licensing fees pushes qualified candidates towards Bay Street. The Ministry of the Attorney General and several social justice-oriented employers provide limited stipends (or in some cases, no help at all) to be used towards licensing fees. Candidates articling at these places face, at best, a cash flow shortage until they actually receive the stipends later in the year; they also face the difficult choice between staying in a societally useful position and one that pays well enough to justify staying in law.

The governance structure of LSUC contributes to the issue of high licensing fees for articling students. In contrast to the wild increase in articling fees, lawyers’ licensing fees will increase by 0.8% ($15) from $1,851 to $1,866 in 2014 (paralegal fees will not increase at all). The lack of a student voice makes it almost inevitable that the bulk of fee increases will be borne by those least able to pay for it, since the benchers of the governing body – lawyers, paralegals, and laypeople – will never have to pay articling fees (again).

As members of the legal profession, we have deep-seated intuitions about fairness, and a mandate to increase access to justice. Every year, we release numerous reports and attend various meetings on furthering access to justice and reducing barriers to entering the legal profession. The increase in licensing fees is not consistent with this mandate. The strength of our commitment to fairness and access to justice must be measured by our actions which further – or frustrate – these goals, rather than by how much we discuss them.

Retweet information »

Comments

  1. Bhuvana, thank you for this. The issue is important; if the LSUC is really interested in making the path easier for new entrants for the profession (as they say they are doing with the LPP) then this sort of fee is unconscionable.

    I am less enthusiastic about actually making it easier for new people to enter a heavily oversupplied profession. But that is what the LSUC say they want to do, and if that is the case, this is a lousy way to do it. It will make the profession less diverse and therefore less able to serve our communities.

  2. It is now possible, with a below average BA and no LSAT, to go to law school and be virtually guaranteed a call to the bar of Ontario primarily via the LPP.

    It is unfortunate that Ontario is now the dumping ground for below average undergrads who nevertheless go on to get a law degree. That is the legacy of the LPP. And those calls will have obtained next to no mentoring and will hang out their shingles with next to no mentors nearby.

    Thanks to a cash grab, in the early 1990s, the Ontario law schools stopped failing anyone and, at one time or another, most of the law schools have also increased first-year enrollments (Ottawa U more than doubled in size). They have been graduating law students at a rate about five times greater than population growth. If this keeps up, at some point every lawyer will have one client each.

    Entry to the profession is anything but restrictive. It is not anywhere near restrictive enough if we want to enhance affordable legal services to the public and make the incurring of high student debts worth the yoke.

    By far, the greatest costs are incurred during the law school phase where tuitions have been de-regulated and of course zoomed up. The costs at the law society stage are comparatively paltry.

    The LPP is already going to be subsidized by the existing members of the Law Society. Without the subsidy, the costs of the LPP would be considerably higher for the students.

    We have evolved a society in which the government thinks that having too few doctors and too many lawyers are good things. They curtail the number of doctors because doctors are seen as a cost to the government best to be avoided or reduced. The government fails to understand that too many barristers also put great strains on government resources. If barristers have too few clients per barrister, the smaller number of remaining files must generate enough income to make being a barrister worthwhile. The alternative is to generate files out of fact situations that do not warrant lengthy proceedings, but instead should have and could have been settled very early on.

    The major reasons for the extraordinary cost of litigation (I can’t afford myself say several of my barrister friends) are (1) an insufficient number of clients per barrister and (2) an unnecessarily protracted litigation system.

    In theory, the litigation system is designed to encourage settlements without the expense of trials. In reality, it drives up the costs by forcing litigants to go through several expensive stages featuring a tremendous amount of repetitive preparation work.

    The costs to the government and to society of all this are hard to measure but they are gargantuan, and they come at the expense of having additional funds available to pay for more doctors and a better medical system.

    We are all to blame for this sorry state of affairs, but none moreso than the government and the law schools. The Law Society’s involvement is far too late in the process. The result is hordes of calls who cannot find jobs or who must hang a shingle and find they cannot find good work or adequate mentoring, but who have incurred daunting debt loads to get there.

    To do justice to these issues would require an entire book, but I will stop here.

  3. The cost barrier is a valid point but I dont think the profession should prejudge the LPP. The articling system has abhorent, near negligent, quality control and the LPP is at least an attempt to provide an alternative.

    Some feel that the LPP is a response to a glut of law school grads but fail to recognize the opportunity it presents. Done properly the LPP with its practical training element, that is so absent from our legal education and the often narrow traditional articling experience, ought to produce more competent new members of the profession.

  4. Some great insight here on a timely and overlooked issue. What’s particularly troubling about the increase in licensing fees is it’s something that’s frequently overlooked in students’ budgets both before and during law school.

    With tuition and living costs as they are, students can scrimp and save and yet still graduate up to their teeth in debt, but on some level they operate on the assumption that, upon graduating, they’ll hit surplus territory and begin to pay it all back. It’s a very unpleasant surprise when they obtain their law degree only to find out that the system hasn’t finished with them yet, and they’ll have to keep paying just to become qualified and then remain in the profession for which they’ve already sunk such a tremendous cost.

    I can only imagine what a sisyphean arrangement the LPP might end up being for those desperate enough to go through it, and, between opportunity costs and poor job prospects at the other end, I suspect the end result for some will be financial ruin.

    Ultimately I think Bradley has the right idea about this mess. If we’re serious about access to justice, then our focus should be on reducing all of the inherent inefficiencies in the litigation process — not to mention societal inequities generally — and not on producing more lawyers who can’t even afford their own services.

  5. The licensing fee is actually regressive tax. Why should a licensing candidate being paid pennies serving low-income clients suffering from the access to justice crisis have to pay the same as those articling on Bay St. earning +$60k a year? Indeed, most national firms cover the fees of their articling students anyway on top of their generous salary. Why don’t the national firms pay the licensing fees of low-income articling students working in under-served practice areas instead?

  6. New Grad,

    I could see someone arguing that LSUC fees should be more progressive in respect of the applicant or licensee, but what do “National” firms have to do with it? The LSUC only regulates lawyers in Ontario. Moreover, a Toronto only boutique could be FAR more profitable than a firm with offices spread across the country. I agree, however, that some lawyers are rich while others are not.

    So, why does the LSUC choose to treat all applicants identically, despite some being more (and less) able to pay than others? What you’re really complaining about is income disparity among applicants and licencees alike. We should do what’s fair, right?

    But it can be looked at another way: Why does the LSUC choose to treat all applicants identically, despite them placing different demands on the system? If someone has a troubled history that requires extensive good-character-related investigation, why should I, or anyone else, have to pay for that? Why should I have to pay for the LPP of someone that couldn’t get an articling job! Isn’t that unfair?

    Warranted or not, there’s a certain unity in sameness. It’s not perfect, but it’s a compromise. Stratification of in the legal profession is nothing new (Harry Arthurs wrote about it extensively in 1996). But we don’t need to “occupy” Osgoode Hall! That would only reify the abstract – and professionally taboo – distinction between different lawyers.

    If certain programs need funding, should it be paid for by rich lawyers alone or rich people generally? That’s why this is really part of a larger public policy discussion, which is sort of what Bradley was getting at. The real problem is that lawyers have, collectively, fumbled the PR campaign for our role in society by allowing it to be portrayed as the zealous provision of a private commodity rather than a public good.

    You’d like to charge those private commodity folks to fund what you see as a ‘public’ good. But this isn’t a narrow regulatory issue and the solution won’t be found in a narrow regulatory intervention. If you want public interest law you’ve got to convince the PUBLIC that it’s worth paying for. Rich lawyers are part of that public, but they, alone, cannot solve the problems this article raises.

  7. Marlow Wilson,

    I’m not complaining about income inequality among lawyers. I’m complaining that I entered law school to serve the disenfranchised (knowing I would be paid far less), but now LSUC is hindering me in this because of the regressive licensing fee. Your analogy to fees being based on good character investigations and demands on the system is weak because such a system would not necessarily contribute to the access to justice crisis. The licensing fee as it stands now WILL hinder students seeking social justice legal careers that serve low-income clients.

    Stratification in the legal profession is getting worse and it is reaching an unbearable point. People can only be trodden down so much before they start pushing back. Expect a lot of angry people from the class of 2014.

  8. Instead of charging students for the LPP program, the LSUC should charge firms who refuse to take on an articling student.

  9. The simple reality is that articling students (and law students) do not vote for benchers. Lawyers vote for benchers.

    More importantly, senior lawyers usually dictate to juniors which way they should vote for benchers.

    The Falconer amendment to the LPP program required some of the expense to be passed on to the bar. Nobody specified which segment of the bar (or soon to be bar) would bear the burden, but given the forgoing it really shouldn’t be that surprising.

  10. I think Omar hit the nail on the head. It’s easy to levy a massive, disproportionate and regressive fee on a constituency that cannot vote against you. It’s unfortunate that the Benchers didn’t take a leadership role on this issue and implement a fairer means of funding the LPP.

  11. A group led by David Wiseman and Suzanne Bouclin at the University of Ottawa proposed that the profession (i.e. 44,000 lawyers) pay and provide access to justice articles, not place the financial burden on students http://www.lsuc.on.ca/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=2147487551

    I had suggested on Slaw that the LSUC create 200 access to justice articling positions. It was expressly rejected in the Task Force report as being too expensive. To the LSUC, $200 per lawyer is too expensive, but $4,800 per student is not. Something is wrong with that.

  12. It’s more accurate to peg the additional charge for the articling program at around $2,800 per candidate, given that it articling lawyers (aka students) in Ontario are members of the LSUC, and the membership fee for qualified lawyers is a bit more than $2,000 before taxes.

    Putting the situation that way highlights this question: what the are articling students getting from the LSUC for the first $2,000? (Don’t say the Ontario Reports).

    DC

  13. Professor Dodek,

    I have to say its a little ironic for a group of Ottawa Law Professors to come together to support a proposal to foot the new articling fees arising out of the LPP on members of the profession.

    While there are, unquestionably, multiple roots of the so called “articling crisis” I would suggest that the biggest cause is the decision by the Law Schools to increase enrollment.

    While it is easy for the law school administrations and academics to preach about their obligation to open up the profession and admit more students so as to avoid a monopoly in the profession the real reason for the decision to increase enrollment, at the University of Ottawa in particular, but I would suggest at each of the law schools in the province, has been a purely selfish financial one on behalf of the law schools and their faculty members.

    The law schools will also preach about access to justice and the need for more lawyers based on supply and demand but this too is at least a partial fallacy. The access to justice and cost of legal services tie more to overhead costs in private practice than supply and demand. There are MANY lawyers barely able to keep the lights on particularly in areas such as family law, immigration, criminal etc. More lawyers wont solve the access to justice issues in these fields. There is a minimum amount these lawyers have to charge to pay basic overhead costs. The reality is that many persons in need of legal services cannot afford the minimal amount a lawyer must charge to pay their overhead and make a basic living ($50,000.00 not $500,000.00).

    Returning to the real root of the problem, in or about 2009 (the year after Ottawa’s “lost” applications), the Ottawa Law School was faced with a pure financial decision. Either effectively cut 5 faculty members or add 60 students to meet its budget.

    The decision was to increase enrollment rather than to make the more difficult decision to cut faculty. Many of the other law schools in the Province followed suit. The faculty who made this decision made, in my view, a selfish and self-serving decision. They would not face the ramifications of graduating more students but would ensure that their colleagues all remained employed as faculty members.

    If we were to return to pre-2008 Ontario Law School enrollment levels, even with NCA students we frankly would not have an articling crisis. Certainly certain graduates would not find articles but the numbers would likely be in the single digits. This is probably a reasonable cull of the profession which, aside from law school admissions, has no other real breakwalls to protect the public from poor candidates being granted the right to practice law in this Province.

    The problem that exists now ties directly to the decision to increase enrollment (among all schools). It may not be the only factor, but I challenge the academics to find a greater cause of the problem.

    If we really want to place the bill at the root of the problem why dont we ask the faculty members who benefited by this increased enrollment to foot this bill? Practicing lawyers did not benefit from the decision to increase enrollment but faculty members sure did.

    Better yet, why dont we have the more difficult discussion about making the law schools and the legal profession self-sustaining. Cut faculty salaries by 10% or cut 10% of current faculty members and cut 25% of each entering class and the “articling crisis” goes away or returns to pre-2008 levels.

    The complete non-accountability of the law schools for the creation of this problem is disturbing. Rather than blaming others, its time for the faculties to take a look in the mirror and start from the proposition that all decisions should be made in the best interests of its students who are being trained to enter a profession and not simply in the interests of the faculty members who want to protect their own jobs. No other profession gets to operate this way. Why should the law schools be any different?

    P.S. This is by no means a criticism of you as a faculty member. By all accounts you are fantastic. You more than carry your own weight both academically and for your students. I recognize you were a hired right around the expansion of school enrollment. This is by no means meant to suggest that law school should have cut you rather than increased enrollment. There is plenty of other dead weight. A real faculty review process would allow for the dead weight to be cut.

  14. Should we not be counting the very significant numbers of Canadian students attending foreign law schools (possibly because they could not get into Canadian schools) then wanting to article here? I have heard figures upt to 700 such students a year – far more than the increase in enrolment of Ontario schools. Many foreign schools recruit here actively – no doubt it’s a lucrative market for them.

    It used to be that someone with a foreign LL.B. had to do two years at a Canadian school to get a Canadian LL.B. (except at Dalhousie, which gave its degree in one year – so one finds Dal grads of a certain age with, say, Oxford or Australian law degrees spread around the country, from days before the current standards of mobility.)

    This is unrelated to the policy of making Canadian qualifications more readily available to actual foreign practising lawyers who want to come here. They are in much smaller number and are not a cause of a surplus demand for articling jobs.

  15. I only saw this story this morning, but I’m frankly appalled at the LSUC’s decision.

    Now, I’ll start with my bias. I think the LPP is a particularly dumb idea. The problem we’re facing is that certain law schools (Ottawa, Queen’s, Bond University) are increasing the supply of would-be lawyers at a time when demand for legal services is shrinking (a point that was driven home last week by the implosion of Heenan Blaikie). We see this in the US, where something like 45% of law school graduates don’t end up getting jobs in the legal profession. The LPP process doesn’t resolve that problem, it just pushes it along for another year. Instead of having a glut of would-be articling students this year, there’ll be a glut of first year associates next year (or does anyone believe that 300 more lawyers a year will be willing or able to make a living hanging up their own shingle – hands-up anyone who truly believes they could start up their own business based on the LPP’s 4 month practicum). The LPP will not result in a long term increase in the number of lawyers practicing law.

    But even if you believe that the LPP isn’t completely useless, the decision to make students fund the full cost of the LPP is particularly egregious. First, there’s a fairness argument as between the students. Why should articling students have to bear the cost of training their colleagues (and future competitors) in the LPP process? I know the LSUC tells a story about “equalizing” the burden between the two licensing processes, but that story won’t cut much weight with anyone who has actually articled in the modern era (which likely excludes many Benchers). Will students in the LPP process work 100 hour weeks, get 3 or 4 hours of sleep a night for weeks on end, and go days without seeing their families? That was my experience as an articling student, and a I dare say it isn’t uncommon. Sure, articling students get paid (usually, but not always), but they work damned hard for that money and for the “privilege” of articling.

    Moreover, and I don’t want to offend anyone here, but articling students get articling positions for a reason. They graduated from better schools, got better grades and hustled harder to impress would be employers. I realize this is hard on people self-esteem, but the qualitative difference between, say, my firm’s articling students, and students I’ve met who couldn’t secure articling positions was like night and day. It seems odd that those students who worked their butts off to graduate in the top half of their class or to get into a good law school (i.e., not Bond university) should have to subsidize the C-students or the trust fund brats who went to Bond because daddy wanted them to be a lawyer.

    But, setting all that aside, even if you buy the line that the burden should be “equalized” between articling students and LPP students, why should articling students bear that cost? Of all the members of the law society, they are the least able to bear the cost of the LPP. Frankly, it shameful that the law society, whose members mostly make good money, chose to stick the cost of training new lawyers under the LPP system on articling students, rather than asking members to pay an extra $100 a pop to fund it themselves. This decision flies in the face of the former professional ethos of the legal profession, reflected in the articling process, that members had a responsibility to train the next generation of lawyers. Surely, if lawyers are no longer willing to do so individually, it follows that they should collectively pay to have someone else do it for them? I hate paying LSUC fees, but as a member of the LSUC, I don’t see how I can justify sticking articling students, with 6-figure students loans making a fraction of what I do, with a $2300 fee, rather than spreading that burden around.

    Anyhow, I had a longer rant on this point here: http://ifiwantedyouropinion.com/2014/02/11/ontario-law-society-sticks-it-to-law-students-im-embarassed-to-be-a-member/

    As an aside, notwithstanding that I agree with the substance of their proposal, it takes some mighty big cajones for the professors at the University of Ottawa to float the proposal that lawyers should pay for training their graduates who can’t get articling positions (roughly, last I checked, 20% of the UofO graduating class), since their school’s increased enrolment (done to preserve the cushy jobs of said professors) is largely responsible for the problem. As an alternative, one might suggest that if UofO is going to crank out graduates (and charge them a pretty penny in the process to fund hefty salaries for professors), the onus on ensuring that those students get called to the bar should lie with UofO. If they can’t place them with articling positions, UofO should have to fund their LPP process (or alternatively, fund articling positions) This is not unprecedented, faced with lousy placement rates for their graduates, many US law schools have taken upon themselves to hire their own graduates in legal clinics for 8 to 10 months. Although this is principally done as a way of gaming their “employed upon graduating statistics” it at least gives the school an incentive not to admit more students than it can credibly place.

  16. Corey: “Done properly the LPP with its practical training element, that is so absent from our legal education and the often narrow traditional articling experience, ought to produce more competent new members of the profession.”

    Perhaps. But do you remember the LSUC’s brief experience with a 6-week professional responsibility course circa 2006-2008? It was the precursor for the proposed 4-month LPP program and was abandoned when the LSUC assessed it to be virtually worthless (those may have been the exact words – mind you, notwithstanding that assessment, they waited another year before doing away with it), which assessment was obvious to everyone who went through it.

    And I’d be curious why you would expect a classroom program will provide better training than the articling process. I concede the point that the articling experience can be hit and miss, depending on your principal or firm, but surely the same applies for instructors (or the four month practicum placement). And certainly my experience with the LSUC’s 6-week professional responsibility course was that NOTHING they did bore the slightest resemblance to the real practice of law – articling does. Maybe Ryerson will do a better job of it, but a priori, I wouldn’t expect that.

    It is worth noting that while Australia and the UK have similar professional legal training, those programs are IN ADDITION to the requirement to get practical legal experience in a law firm setting. So, for example, for solicitors in the UK, having completed the professional responsibility course, you still have to work for two years under a training contract with an existing solicitor. Ditto in Australia, where new calls are subject to practice restrictions in the first two years. Sure, they can call themselves lawyers, but lets not kid ourselves, they’re glorified articling students. Those are the jurisdictions that supporters of the LPP cite as being examples of why it will work, the fact that they require practical firm experience, suggests that they don’t believe that a practical legal training course is remotely sufficient.

  17. UO Grad - Still Looking

    I agree that the idea of forcing ALL articling candidates to subsidize the LPP program at a very significant premium is just innately unfair since people who do not choose the LPP gain no benefit from it – if anything, they are just subsidizing their competition in an already desperate job market. How the rest of the profession voted to allow this tells us something about how out of touch or apathetic they are with reality of today’s job market and the challenges facing today’s law grads. I don’t think we will see much help until global competition and technology start killing off more Canadian firms and their bloated, out-dated billing & management practices.

    On a more practical level though, what costs does the LPP subsidy fee cover exactly? Does it cover the full tuition for the program? Or do enrollees have to pay additional costs on top? From the little I have been able to read, the LPP will be an online program followed by 4 months of free or optionally paid labour. How much can it cost?

    According to LSUC, students who registered for articling this coming year would have already chosen the LPP option and should have received additional particulars about the program.

    Can anyone share if/what the additonal costs are for the program will be for those choosing the LPP option?

    According to the Ryerson LPP site:

    Candidates interested in enrolling in the Ryerson Law Practice Program for 2014-15 must first apply for and be registered in the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Licensing Process. Details can be found online at http://www.lsuc.on.ca/licensingprocesslawyer. Applications received by the Law Society after December 13, 2013, will be subject to a late filing fee.

    After the application process has been completed, candidates may select the Ryerson Law Practice Program using their personal Law Society web account. Ryerson will then contact candidates directly to provide additional information about the program.

    I’m sure many of us are curious what the tuition fee will be (or is it covered by the levy?), if it varies by the school, content of the curriculum & course structure, and how classes are conducted. (i.e. is it all online or do you have to physically attend any classes in Toronto/Ottawa?)

    Thanks in advance.

  18. Undecided: LPP or Articling

    Apparently there are 3 paths now – according to this LSUC document, if you go to Lakehead law school, you are exempt since they integrate the LPP into their program. And you don’t have to pay the whole extra fees.

    From: http://www.lsuc.on.ca/uploadedFiles/pathways-fact-sheet-EN.pdf

    THE INTEGRATED PRACTICE CURRICULUM AT LAKEHEAD UNIVERSITY FACULTY OF LAW

    Lakehead University Faculty of Law’s Integrated Practice Curriculum satisfies the Law Society’s experiential training requirement for lawyer licensing.

    Beginning with the inaugural class, graduates of Lakehead’s JD program will only need to pass the licensing examinations and
    satisfy the good character requirement to complete the Lawyer Licensing Process and be called to the Bar in Ontario. They will not need to article or complete the Law Practice Program or pay the articling/LPP portion of the Licensing Process fee.

    Students enrolled in the JD program at Lakehead will complete integrated practice training and do work placements within their three-year degree. The curriculum integrates legal skills with substantive legal knowledge. It is the first program of its kind in Canada to integrate legal professional training into its JD degree. There will be no additional cost to students.

    Q: Will other Ontario law schools follow suit – this reads like a real selling point. “Come to our law school, with its integrated LPP, and you don’t have to article afterwards – just write the bar, be of good character, and boom, you’re a lawyer.*”

    * Actual job or prospects as a lawyer not included.

  19. Undecided,

    I suspect that other law schools will not be quick to embrace the Lakehead model for a number of reasons.

    First, it remains to be seen whether the LPP has any value whatsoever. As I noted earlier, other jurisdictions with similar programs (say, Australia) impose practice restrictions on new calls to the bar (so are, for all intents and purposes, little more than articling students albeit with a slightly more prestigious title). The earlier LSUC experience with similar programs was an unambiguous failure. (And given the LSUC’s penchant for radically changing the licensing program every few years, I wouldn’t expect this change to be around in a decade).

    Second, the reality is that for the foreseeable future, graduates of the LPP program will be seen as “second-rate” new calls in the job market (in many cases, rightly). That may not matter much for Lakehead, which will have to deal with stigma of being a second-rate law school anyhow (sorry Lakehead, it’s true) and, in any event, is intended to serve a legal market (Northern Ontario) that is not effectively served by the current law schools, but that’ll discourage, say, Ottawa or Queen’s from pursuing that option. At the end of the day, since most law school graduates are neither willing nor able to hang-up their own shingle and start their own practice, it’s the ability to get hired after law school (whether as an articling student or a lawyer) that matters, not whether you can call yourself a lawyer

    Third, there are going to be a lot of vested interests in the law schools opposing that practice. All those tenured professors at the established law schools (but not Lakehead) weren’t hired for their practical legal skills – many (most?) have never practiced in their lives. Replacing the third-year of law school with an LPP-type program means less demand for legal academics. Even if the LPP program were successful, the faculty who effectively run Ontario’s law schools are not necessarily known for putting the good of their graduates ahead of their own well-being (witness UofO’s decision to sharply increase enrolment in order to protect the financial viability of the faculty of law, which decision is a significant contributor to the excess supply of law school graduates in Ontario today. One could also look at Queen’s discussion of the same thing). Since they were starting from scratch, this wasn’t a problem for Lakehead.

    Fourth, and finally, it remains to be seen how successful the LPP programs are at securing work placements for their participants. It may well be that Lakehead is small enough that it can cobble together 30-40-odd placements every year for its third-year class, but I suspect there are limits on the ability to scale that up.

  20. I hear ya, but I completely disagree. Here’s why.

Leave a Reply

(Your email address will not be published or distributed)