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Licensing insight

Editorial Obiter

Everyone contemplating attending law school would be wise to read a report by the Law Society of Ontario on the licensing, by the Professional Development and Competence Committee. The figures it contains are intimidating for those contemplating a career after law school. For example, the report notes that “only 10 per cent of Ontario law firms currently provide articling placements.” 

“A permanent shortage of articling positions now exists,” says the report. It also points out that, over the past 10 years, “the number of licensing candidates has increased by 70 per cent but the supply of articling positions has not kept pace.” So, what are aggravating factors that make the articling crisis even worse?

“Law school debt levels for some candidates have escalated . . . putting increased pressure on graduates to obtain remunerative training positions,” it adds.

“These factors can intensify the power imbalance between candidates and their employers, leading to instances of harassment, discrimination and exploitation, where candidates work for nominal or no pay. Moreover, the increasing demand for articling positions has led to marginal placements, where candidates do not receive proper training and instruction.”

This is why the plan by the Law Society of Ontario looking at alternatives to articling is a wise move. High hopes existed for the Law Practice Program, but the report acknowledges a stigma persists. 

There is a definite gap in the market when the number of graduates from Ontario law programs has skyrocketed, by 60 per cent between 2007 and 2012. 

This is undeniable and concerning. Therefore, the sooner the profession is educated and consulted with on next moves, the better. Attention should be paid to such dire statistics, and fast.

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