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Teaching and Mentoring Candidates

Overview of General Articling Principal Responsibilities 

Experiential training allows candidates in the Lawyer Licensing Process to apply their formal learning and develop their skills, professional abilities and judgment. The Law Society entrusts this training to those licensees who serve as articling principals. As a principal, you serve as an exemplar of the profession, and play an integral role in ensuring the competence of new lawyers in Ontario. As a principal, you are expected to act as a teacher, mentor, and role model for candidates. To offer an articling placement to a Lawyer Licensing Process candidate is to accept the trust placed in you by the Law Society and by the candidate, and to commit time and effort to providing the candidate with as meaningful and varied an articling placement as is possible in your practice.

Section 6.2-2 of the Rules of Professional Conduct sets out your duties as a principal. It states, “A lawyer acting as a principal to a student shall provide the student with meaningful training and exposure to and involvement in work that will provide the student with knowledge and experience of the practical aspects of the law, together with an appreciation of the traditions and ethics of the profession.”

You are expected to abide by the requirements and responsibilities set out in section 10 of the Lawyer Licensing Process Policies throughout the duration of an articling placement.

It is very important that you keep your contact information that is on file with the Law Society up-to-date.

Experiential Training Obligations and Guidelines

 To the best of your ability, you must instruct your candidate in the practice and profession of law and provide an articling placement experience that supports the experiential training competencies as they apply to your practice. In addition to learning substantive law and procedure, candidates must receive training in the necessary skills, knowledge and tasks for entry into the profession. All tasks and activities are expected to be performed in a directly supervised capacity.

Assigning routine professional duties to candidates, such as filing documents, can contribute to a candidate’s understanding of a lawyer’s work environment. The proportion of a candidate’s time committed to such matters must be kept within limits that are compatible with the educational and experiential training goals of articling.

Teaching and Mentoring Obligations and Guidelines

 Teaching in the context of an articling placement can often be on-the-go, by instruction and example, with interjected explanations and informal after-the-event discussions. It is most important that you provide regular and direct supervision of a candidate’s work, with appropriate constructive criticism and comment. Ensuring that expectations are clearly established when any given task is assigned is essential.

Timely, ongoing, and structured feedback is important to a candidate’s development and can also be beneficial to you. The most effective feedback is specific, descriptive, balanced, realistic, and easy to understand.

You may also allow your candidate to work with your colleagues within your firm or organization. While these arrangements can provide beneficial variation of the articling placement experience (for example, a rotation to a different practice group within a law firm) you remain responsible at all times for the actions of your candidate. It is also important for you to ensure that in such situations, your colleagues assist in carrying out the educational and experiential training goals of articling. 

Resources

Rules of Professional Conduct: Duties of a Principal
Lawyer Licensing Process Policies: Obligations of a Principal
Articling Program Reporting Tool
Experiential Training Plan
Record of Experiential Training in Articling Program