Pathways to Licensing

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Ryan Alford

More needs to be done to encourage small-firm and solo practitioners to serve as articling principals.  While alternate pathways remain viable, the articling route should be strengthened.  The LSO needs to devote its resources to determining how it can remove barriers in this area, or even incentivize these lawyers — particularly those in remote communities or who are approaching retirement — so that they will reconsider serving in this role.


Howard Goldblatt

As a former chair and current member of the Professional Development and Competence Committee, I support the decision of Convocation to continue articling (enhanced) and maintain the Law Practice Program. We have an obligation to ensure that graduates from the LPP are accepted without reservation as fully qualified practitioners. I also believe that the examination process for licensing needs to be reviewed and reformed to include a comprehensive examination process after the completion of experiential training and before the call to the bar.

E Patrick Shea, LSM

Experiential training is essential to developing the skills and judgment necessary to provide high-quality legal services.   The LPP and articling can both provide that training.  However, articling provides the secondary benefit of increased likelihood of post-call employment.  I would like to see LPP candidates have the same access to employment opportunities as  the students who are fortunate enough to secure articling positions.  I am also concerned with the cost of the LPP and whether that cost presents a barrier to access for students who are already burdened by student debt.    


Deepa Tailor

To the extent possible, the LSO should advocate for practical legal education so that licensees are practice ready upon graduation and completion of licensing exams (i.e. Lakehead’s model where 3L is your practical year).  I understand that this is a National Accreditation issue and the LSO does not have direct control over this but it is certainly a key stakeholder in this narrative.


Addison Cameron-Huff

Licensing must be contingent on candidates meeting the expectations of the profession. If there are alternative ways of ensuring that candidates meet expectations then they should be explored. 


Jerry B. Udell

The Articling program needs to be revised to insure students have an opportunity to practice law 


Sean Robichaud 

I feel like the LSO is trying to ride every horse in the stable on this issue. Either we have pathways to licensing (LPP, et al.) or we don’t. The LSO needs to make a firm decision on what it means to be licensed in Ontario and stick with it.  Instead, they have created far too many (costly) options for people to become a lawyers. 
My view is that law schools need to adapt. Legal education must be very different than it was in 1979. Law schools must be active and the LSO should be requiring these schools to include one year of practical training as part of their legal education (akin to Bar Ads or the LPP program). As it stands now, the third year of law school is more about glad handing Bay St. and trying to seek employment than it is about learning how to practice law. We need a structural change and it starts with the LSO demanding more of our law schools to equip them to become lawyers as soon as they graduate.


Barbara Murchie

I supported maintaining the articling requirement for licensing. I also supported the continuation of the LPP option. The next step is determining if licensing exams will be limited to multiple choice exams as they are now or extended to require testing of practice skills like drafting an opinion letter, identifying options to resolve a client problem and conducting an interview. I am in favour of fair and objective skills testing.


Isfahan Merali

With respect to licensing, I have strongly voiced my concerns about the status quo. I have spoken out in Convocation in favour of an alternative arrangement, which would require the LSO to collaborate with law schools (and use its influence at the Federation of Law Societies to do so). I have advocated for this alternative arrangement as I do not believe that the status quo is acceptable. Forcing students to go through a system where there is rampant abuse and harassment in order to be licensed, or facing the perception that their program is 2nd tier is unacceptable (even though I do believe the LPP program is of very high quality and provides excellent training). If the costs could be brought down significantly, however, I would perhaps also be in favour of an LPP program only but I do not think it is equitable to impose a further cost of about $25,000 on each student (which was the cost quoted during the licensing debate).

My comments during Convocation during the Licensing Debate on Dec 10, 2018 can be found starting at page 68 of the transcript:


Robert Burd

Ideally, it would be best for all licensing candidates to go through the LPP program however it would put an extra financial burden on licensing applicants

Peter Beach

The Law Society needs to do a radical rethink about entry into the profession.

Jeff Cowan

Practice skills training should continue as recently approved with enhancements, with credit for approved law school courses or clinical work. LPP graduates must be supported as full equals of articled students and barriers to this must be eliminated. Comprehensive examinations should continue their emphasis on a matrix of competencies required to provide professional legal services. The merits of practical skills examinations must be assessed against their cost as a barrier to entry to young or new licensee applicants of limited means.

Etienne Esquega

The LSO must continue to explore pathways to licensing. The Lakehead Law School model is one that should be further explored. Their model incorporates a curriculum which enables students to take the bar exams without articling. I hired a recent grad from this school and have had students on placement at my office.


Robert Besunder

I tend to favour a more traditional approach to licencing, involving an articling or mentorship experience where prospective licencees can gain real and practical experience. Self-study alone does not do that, and is not the path toward licensing if competence is a goal.


Tanya Walker

I support maintaining the articling requirement for licensing along with the continuation of the LPP option.

Paul Le Vay

The bottleneck caused by the shortage of articling positions creates both access to justice and equity issues. While the Law Practice Program/Programme de pratique du droit (LPP/PPD) may not be a permanent solution, it is clear that this program has helped many licensee candidates, including francophone candidates taking the PPD at the University of Ottawa and its beneficial aspects should be preserved, if possible. Enhanced licensing examinations (without articling) is a model that has worked in other jurisdictions and may be the longer term goal.
L`embouteillage causé par la pénurie de stages crée des problèmes d`accès à la justice et d`équité. Le Programme pratique du droit (PPD) n`est peut-être pas la solution permanente mais il a aidé des candidat(e)s, y compris ceux à l`Université d`Ottawa et les aspects bénéfiques doivent être préserver, si possible. Un système d`examens améliorés (sans stage) est un modèle qui a marché dans d`autres juridictions et pourrait être la solution à long terme.


James Mays

I support the current model. I would be open to listening to suggestions to improve the current model, or even a new model as our society evolves.


Gerard Paul Charette

I am not sure about the answer on this. I need to study the issue and speak to students, and those who supervised articles for law grads. Please send me your ideas. Thanks.

Chi-Kun Shi

I support a fundamental rethink of the articling system to focus on making it work for the students and clients from all walks of life.


Yavar Hameed

I think that the LSO missed an opportunity with the Dialogue on Licensing to really respond to the parts of lawyer licensing and training that don’t work by building upon work that it has done through the creation of the LPP. As one of the four pillars in my campaign, I support moving towards an “LPP for all” licensing pathway: Over the past five years that I have worked with the A2Justice Coalition, I have consulted with numerous members of the legal profession, including many young lawyers, who all agree that the existing system of articling is broken, and an LPP-style licencing process that is integrated in a meaningful way with law schools is needed. Our submission as the A2Justice Coalition to the Dialogue on Licencing called for precisely that. We sought a consistent licencing experience for all candidates based on a modified version of the LPP and as Bencher, I commit to furthering that objective.







Robert Shawyer

The time has come for the LSO to implement a one size fits all set of exams that each candidate seeking to obtain a licensee to practice from the LSO would have to pass. 


Michael B Lesage

Multiple pathways to licensing show the misalignment between the supply of new lawyers, and the demand for legal services. There are simply too many lawyers, much as there are simply too many real estate agents for the market to support.


Rebecca C Durcan

This issue was recently addressed by Convocation. From a fiduciary perspective, I do not believe that I should wade into this issue in this forum. 


Douglas W. Judson

Experiential learning must be core to the training required to become a lawyer. The stage at which we require this requirement to be satisfied in the legal education and licensing process should be open to more robust debate. For example, the integrated curriculum model in place at Lakehead University is demonstrating that there needn’t be a single pathway to the bar or that experiential training needs to happen after law school. As part of our commitment to nurturing a diverse bar and lowering barriers facing some groups, I believe that the LSO should facilitate multiple paths to licensing that respond to the needs and circumstances of all Ontarians. Our licensing pathways must be cost-effective for candidates and responsive to the crisis in law school tuition.


Rene Larson

If LSO has chosen a role to prepare students for admission to the bar, then I strongly believe in paid articling for one year with the LSO offering financial incentives and training to soles and small firms to take on articling students. I support LPP as an alternative for those who cannot find articling positions.

The more radical approach (which I am currently favouring) would be for LSO to get out of educating law students, and set out high admission standards which must be met AND administer admission examinations for those who wish to enter the profession.  Once admitted there would be compulsory low cost CPD programming for three years to teach them how to practice, and no one should be allowed to start a law practice for at least three years after call to the bar.


Claire Wilkinson

It is essential for graduates to receive practical training. The theory taught in law school does not always translate well to the reality of the practice of law and all of the other variables, including time pressures and the value of personal relationships. We are challenged by the Ontario market being flooded with law school graduates from not only Ontario, but from international law schools as well. The LPP is a very good model, but more opportunities need to be available. The LSO should consider financial incentives for solo practices and small firms to take on articling students.


Antoine L Collins

Despite the long history of the current model, I believe improvements can and must be made. My starting position is that, after three years of law school and passing the bar exam, candidates should be as fully prepared as possible to practice law. This means that, within the educational and articling period, students should be provided with the necessary knowledge, skills and competencies to start practicing as a novice lawyer. Some rudimentary business skills are required in addition to communication and writing skills, verbal reasoning, intellectual and analytical competencies, and understanding of professional responsibility. The substantial time and money spent in law school, preparing for the bar exam and articling should produce lawyers who are ready to practice.


Atrisha Lewis

I would like to eliminate articling but I understand given the current law school education model and the cost of the LPP program, that is not a tenable solution. I am troubled by reports from articling students who encounter harassment and abuse in the course of their articles. Articling jobs are hard to come by. There needs to be robust and alternative pathways to licensing for students. Law schools need to provide greater experiential training (e.g. Lakehead) so that even more alternatives can be explored.


David Milosevic

The results of the LSO “Options for Lawyer Licensing Consultation Paper” released in May 2018 recommending articling/LPP with the addition of work placements is a good addition to the licensing process. It is important that this process acknowledges that there are barriers to licensing faced by certain licensees and that the LSO takes steps to ensure such barriers are reduced as paid positions are implemented as part of the licensing process.


Michael Allan Brown

From a Paralegal prospective, I believe that there are so many paths that one can take that there is not the consistency of new licensees across the province. There are many programs offering Paralegal Studies, some private and some public all with varying programs and learning. Even with an 8 week placement at the college I went to, my classmates and I all received different work experiences. In placement as well as articling, we are not guaranteed the quality training to allow us to be successful on the other side. I believe that there needs to be strengthening of the placement experience so that core experiences are learned in each placement.


Caryma Sa’d

Providing LPP across the board would eliminate concerns about a two-tiered system, but there is a lot of value that can be derived from articling. A practicum in third year that counts towards articles could play a role in a discussion about pathways to licensing. My position on this issue is evolving.



Jayashree Goswami

I agree with the LSO’s decision to offer a dual path to licensing at this time because the infrastructure to abolish articles in entirety or have all students proceed with LPP is simply not in place. However, this is a temporary solution as it does not do enough to level the playing field.

While every law graduate can now technically gain entry into the profession, inequities persist. We have a two-tier system of articling in the province. It remains to be seen (given the nascence of the LPP program) whether graduates of the LPP program are accepted as equals to their peers who have completed traditional articling. Moreover, discrimination, unfair practices and bullying of students by their principals persists as an ugly reality. Articling, which was conceived as a facilitator is now operating as a barrier to entry into the profession.

Pathways to Licensing must be revisited. There must be a one-size-fits-all approach proofed for equal opportunity. If articling is to be abolished, experiential learning must form a compulsory part of law school education. If LPP is the way forward for all licensees, the LSO has to be able to fund it without imposing greater debts on our newest and most vulnerable members.


Jonathan Rosenthal

I strongly supported the LPP and urged my bencher colleagues to do so as well. I was also a LPP instructor. In doing so it became clear to me that many racialized students would never get called to the bar without this important program.


Selwyn A Pieters

Articling works well. There still need to be some improvements to the LKPP program which works well for foreign called lawyers but not well for LPP candidates without clinical or practical legal experience.


Peter Wardle

I chaired the recent review of licensing at the LSO. We have put in place some changes but not enough. I am not a supporter of the current two tier model, but for now the benchers have decided it should continue. I would like to see more opportunities for students to get credit for clinical work while at law school (ie. the Lakehead model).


Kristin Hutton

Canada is the only developed nation that still requires “articling” which inherently restricts the entrance to the free market. It should be eliminated if it continues to be a large barrier for law students to enter the workplace.


Joseph Groia

There should only be one – a licensing exam followed by additional training for anyone going into sole practice.


John Arkelian

Members should be refereed to as “members,” not as “licensees.” Referring to us as “licensees” is one small (but all too typical) indication of the Law Society’s current corporate culture of coldly bureaucratic aloofness. Changing the term back to “members” would be an outward, symbolic sign that the Society is reinventing itself with a view to taking on a humane, collegial face.

Sylvie Patenaude

LSO need to be decisive and agree on what are the clear steps to become licensed, as opposed to trying to create multiple licensing scenarios. Law schools need to also adapt.




Orlando Da Silva, LSM

Subject to the views I expressed elsewhere in this questionnaire, I support the decision of Convocation to maintain the status quo (with the enhancements proposed).


Rebecca Bromwich

Without sacrificing quality of legal services, we should eliminate any arbitrary or unfair barriers to licensing.


Cheryl Siran

The recent enhancements haven’t changed the current pathways significantly, so this will continue to be a high priority.  It is a complex issue that intersects with 1, 5, 7 10, 11, and 13, amongst others.


Nathan Baker

Linking the process to actual competence is key. Articling, in some form, is still needed.  A mentorship helps to develop competencies.  Helping to open more positions through targeted funding is an example of real change the LSO could be involved in.  Mere test taking ability cannot adequately ensure competency. Making sure articles are meaningful is key.


Ian Speers

Until such time as law schools broadly amend their curricula to give graduates the skills to practise effectively upon graduation, I believe that the LSO acted appropriately in maintaining the status quo for pathways to licensing. I have been an assessor for the Ryerson LPP since its inauguration in 2014, and am generally impressed by the quality of training and candidates in that programme — I do believe that it offers an attractive model of combining practical skills and experiential learning, which should inform an ultimate successor to articling, if it can be upscaled in a cost-effective manner.


Janis Criger

LPP for everyone, but it’s too expensive after 5 above, so my second choice was current system with enhancements, which was passed.


Quinn Ross

Experiential training is key to the transition from the current form of legal education into practice.  There are two methods available.  One is controlled by market forces and one is not.  To the extent that the LSO’s mandate is to ensure the competency of licensees the mandate has been met.


Andrew Spurgeon 

I support maintenance of articling and the LPP.



Malcolm M. Mercer

I support the decision made by Convocation in December 2018. We have debated this issue for the last decade. We should now get on with a serious review of post-licensing competence and put the pathways debate behind us.


Billeh Hamud

I believe the traditional articling requirement is the best method to begin the practice of law, however, I also realize that discrimination and racism in the profession disproportionately affect racialized law students in securing articling positions. The LPP program is an alternative, however, I believe that we should first strengthen the tools to combat discrimination and racism in the profession in order allow racialized law students to secure articling positions.


Mitchell Kowalski

It makes very little sense to maintain 2 pathways.

Once Benchers take emotional attachment out of the equation (which unfortunately they very rarely do), it is clear that the only fair, transparent, measurable and consistent model is the LPP.

The way forward is to ditch articling and replace it with a cost-effective LPP.

Ideally the LPP would replace the 3rd year of law school.


M. Steven Rastin

LSO needs to be concerned about a system that is inputting far more would-be articling students than the province has articling positions. The increase of free “internships” of unpaid articles is problematic as it acts as a potential barrier to diversity and may limit access to the profession to the affluent. LPP is a valid response for the time being, but LSO needs to more fully address the problem of too many applicants for too few jobs.


John F. Fagan

We should avoid the settling-in of any permanent “two-tier” system of pathways to licensing. To save the articling system, by getting more articling jobs opened up, we would have to devise a way of spreading around to the profession at large, at least part of the cost of providing those jobs. Some other Law Society expenditures would have to be curtailed. [We would also have to reduce (and not increase!) the administrative burden placed on lawyers who take on articling students.] In the alternative, if finances were to dictate that articling just could not be saved, then we should probably have all bar admission aspirants take the recently-devised alternative-to-articling path — but not at significant further financial costs to the aspirants!


Gina Papageorgiou

I am a Bencher with fiduciary duties and when this matter was last considered we voted to keep the current system with articling and an LPP. I do not think this issue will go away as there will continue to be fewer and fewer articling jobs. We should not have as a licensing criteria something that has the effect of discriminating against some groups, as we know some groups statistically have a more difficult time obtaining articles. I believe long run we should be talking to the law schools about them setting up programs like the LPP during the last term of law school. In this way, all students would receive a standardized training in practical skills. Thereafter, articling could be eliminated and students could write one licensing exam.


D. Jared Brown

The only reason that pathways to licensing is debated, is because the traditional Articling system has irreparably failed. Rather than create new and interesting ways in which Licensees can enter the profession (and the LSO can then regulate), remove the broken Articling system. Lets admit failure on the part of the profession. Administer a bar admission exam. Monitor competence during practice.

Deepa Tailor

The Law Society should work with law schools and the Federation of Law Societies to advocate for a practical approach to legal education that encompasses practical training as part of a student’s 3L year (similar to Lakehead’s current model). We currently have a three tiered system (1) conventional articling where the burden of providing practical training is placed on the private bar, (2) the LPP program which is exorbitantly expensive given the current debt most law school students currently graduate from law school with and (3) Lakehead’s model where an equivalent to LPP is taught as part of law school. Students pay exorbitant tuition in order to be able to enter this profession and should be practice ready once they graduate.

The licensing process itself needs to be more practical. A multiple choice bar exam is not sufficient to test for competency to practice law. We should revisit the previous bar admissions course approach and assess practical competencies to render services to the public.


Teresa Donnelly

I support Articling and the Law Practice Program. I support enhancements to these placements to ensure that they are quality placements free from harassment and discrimination.


Paul M. Cooper

I strongly support the LPP program. It is my position that the education component of the LPP should be expanded to all new licensees in the form of a global 3-month LPP / bar admission course for all licensees. This should be followed by a period of Articling, as long as the barriers of entry are eliminated. If that proves impossible, then I am in favour of eliminating the Articling requirement.


Megan Shortreed

On entry-to-practice, the LSO needs to overcome the articling barrier to entry. It is a system that relies on the market to meet a necessary prerequisite to entry. I was a strong voice on the Advocates’ Society’s LPP Task Force which made submissions to the LSO that the LPP had to be maintained until the LSO can create a single solution for the articling crisis, which most adversely affects racialized candidates. I will push for a solution that makes the requirements for entry equally available to every candidate, and merit based, without barriers imposed or influenced by the market. Requirements for entry must set high standards for competence, and should be equally able to be completed by any candidate regardless of gender, race or economic circumstances. This means looking at any number of solutions, such as exams, an across-the-board LPP or other bar admission programs, and making articling or internship optional, not a mandatory prerequisite.

Mirilyn Sharp

I am aware that the cost to become licensed as a lawyer after law school, as well as the yearly fees to be an insured member of the LSO, is extremely onerous to those lawyers who do not work in large law firms where these fees are paid on their behalf. Lawyers in small and solo firms who work in areas of law that are not as profitable but that serve the public, need to obtain some relief from these crippling costs. The practice of law is becoming less and less accessible both because of the costs and because of significant issues facing new calls seeking to find an articling position. We need to fix this!



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