The Law Society of Alberta (Law Society), in conjunction with the law societies of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, conducted two surveys in May through June 2019 to better understand the current state of the articling system across the three provinces.
One survey asked articling students and new lawyers (articled in the last five years) about the types of training and mentoring students are receiving, issues related to discrimination or harassment and how prepared students feel to practise as 21st century lawyers. The second survey asked similar questions of recruiters, principals and mentors.
The Law Society heard from 549 student and new lawyer respondents in Alberta (a 23 per cent response rate) and engaged a third-party research group to analyze the information collected. A key finding revealed that nearly one in three (32 per cent) reported experiencing discrimination or harassment during recruitment and/or articling.
Similar questions about the reporting of discrimination and harassment were posed to principals, mentors and recruiters. The results revealed that nine per cent have had an articling student express concerns about discrimination or harassment during recruitment or articling.
While the survey results for Alberta bring to light an immediate need to address reports of discrimination and harassment, there are two other key findings not to be overlooked. The second survey finding demonstrates an inconsistent experience in the competencies learned during articling and in how prepared students feel for entry level practice. The third finding shows challenges around the quality of mentorship and feedback for both students and their principals and mentors.