The Advisory: Volume 9, Issue 2, August 2011

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Continuing Competence Review a Strategic Priority

By Jim Glass, QC, Bencher and Chair of the Continuing Competence Committee

TO ADVANCE its goal of being a model regulator, the Law Society has identified as a strategic priority a review of programs regarding lawyer competence.

As such, the newly-formed Continuing Competence Committee has been tasked with this project which will entail several components.

The first task will be to articulate a definition of competence upon which the Committee can base its work. The new Alberta Code of Conduct articulates a definition of competence. The Committee will review this along with definitions from other jurisdictions in order to recommend to the Benchers a definition for Alberta.

Secondly, the Committee will:

  • Conduct a thorough review of existing competence- based programs in the legal profession in other jurisdictions and also in other professions; and
  • Review and develop an inventory of competence- related programs already in place at the Law Society as a first step to rationalizing existing programs within any new programs which may be recommended.

As part of this review, the Committee will be developing and recommending a three-year business plan to further develop the Continuing Professional Development Program. Then, the Committee will construct, and recommend for approval by the Benchers, a policy concerning continuing lawyer competence within the Law Society’s mandate as a regulator in the public interest.

The Committee met for the first time in late April to begin this project.

In these preliminary discussions, the Committee sensed that to build public confidence in the legal profession, the Law Society needs to shift its perspectives and programs from responding to signs of incompetence to developing an integrated approach which promotes lawyer competence in the practice of law.

With this, the overall goal of the Committee is to recommend policies and programs which take a proactive approach to developing lawyer competence and which will contribute to enhancing public confidence in the legal profession in Alberta.

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