September 27, 2019
Law Society of Alberta Responds to Issues in the Articling System
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.

The Practice Foundations Advisory Committee is Looking for Volunteers
The Practice Foundations Task Force has put forward immediate steps for the Law Society to address the issues of discrimination and harassment, as well as competency and readiness to practice, within the articling system in Alberta. One of those steps is establishing a Practice Foundations Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee will:

  • Serve as an important and meaningful link to the legal community and current state of articling
  • Develop recommendations to address immediate issues uncovered in the survey results and to improve the future of articling
  • Promote further engagement with the profession

We are seeking applications from current articling students, new lawyers (articled in the last five years), principals or mentors of articling students and internationally trained lawyers. Lawyers from demographics that have been traditionally underrepresented in the profession are encouraged to apply for this advisory committee.

Visit our website to find out more and apply. Application deadline is Friday, October 18, 2019.
Reminder: Queen’s Counsel Application and Selection Process
It is tradition in the province of Alberta to have the Lieutenant Governor in Council appoint lawyers who have made particular contributions to the legal profession or public life in the province as Queen’s Counsel. This is done under the authority of the Queen’s Counsel Act.

The Queen's Counsel application period is now open. The deadline for applications is Thursday, October 17, 2019 at 4:30 p.m.

Applications are to be addressed to the Queen’s Counsel Screening Committee and submitted using an online tool available here. Hard copy (physical) submissions will not be accepted.

All completed application packages will be reviewed by the Queen’s Counsel Screening Committee. Individuals are evaluated based on detailed criteria of competence, professional qualities, their contribution to the administration of justice and their contribution to the community. The awarding of the Queen’s Counsel designation is solely within the discretion of the Lieutenant Governor in Council. Queen’s Counsel recipients are announced by the Alberta Government.

To review application eligibility and guidelines, read the Minister’s letter. Further questions about the Queen’s Counsel application process can be directed to the Office of the Deputy Minister at [email protected] or 780.427.5032 (toll free in Alberta by first dialing 310.0000).