The Advisory: Volume 8, Issue 1, January 2010

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Executive Director's Report

National Standards Approved for Canadian Common Law Degree

By Don Thompson, QC, Executive Director, Law Society of Alberta

A national standard for a Canadian law degree will provide greater clarity on bar admission standards for both students and law societies across the country.

The Benchers of the Law Society of Alberta approved, at their December 2009 meeting, the Final Report compiled by a Task Force of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada (FLSC) on the Accreditation of the Common Law Degree.

The Final Report, issued in mid-October 2009, recommends:

  • uniform national standards for a Canadian law degree as the basis for entry to law society bar admission programs or licensing processes in common law jurisdictions,
  • a process by which law school standards would be verified, and
  • provisions on how the recommendations would be implemented.

Last year, a draft of the consultation report was reviewed and endorsed by the Credentials & Education Committee and the Law Society. What does this mean for law societies and students-at-law?

The national standards would provide law schools with guidance on what students need for law society admission processes. By 2015, all applicants (including students-at-law) seeking to enter a bar admission program must meet national standards. This transition period will accommodate students who have already begun their studies, and applicants currently being considered by the FLSC’s National Committee on Accreditation, and will give law schools time to make modifications to their programs.

For law societies, implementing these recommendations will provide greater transparency and accountability to the public in how applicants are admitted to the bar. National academic requirements will further enhance national mobility of lawyers across the country. It will provide a common, transparent method for entry to any of the common law bar admission programs in Canada.

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