Changes to the Articling Term Approved at September Bencher Meeting
In April 2020, shortly after the initial declaration of a Public Health Emergency in Alberta due to COVID-19, the Benchers approved an amendment to the articling term. To provide greater flexibility for students and firms during the pandemic, this amendment changed the articling term in Alberta from 12 months to a range of between eight months and 12 months for students-at-law. Students clerking with the Courts were also provided more flexibility in their term of articles.
At that time, the Benchers committed to review the amendment to determine whether the change should be permanent. This review included consultation with students-at-law, principals and program administrators by way of feedback surveys, a roundtable discussion with key stakeholders and input from the Lawyer Competence Advisory Committee.
Throughout the consultation process, concerns were raised about the impact of shortening the articling timeline. These concerns included challenges with assessing competency, confusion over how the Practice Readiness Education Program (PREP) aligns with articling, determining drawbacks for firms, determining what is best for students-at-law and much more. The consultation also identified reasons to maintain the articling range and have a variety of options available to students-at-law, law firms or other articling settings.
In consideration of this review, at the September 2022 Board meeting, the Benchers approved the return to a 12-month articling term, or 15 months if clerking with the Court, that includes PREP within that term. This reverts the Rules of the Law Society of Alberta, Rule 56, to the pre-April 2020 version, effective Jan. 1, 2023.
This change affects all students-at-law who will begin articling after Jan. 1. Those who have status as a student-at-law before the end of the year are not impacted by this Rule change.
Returning to a 12-month articling term simplifies the process for articling students and principals. It also allows the Law Society to clarify that PREP is considered part of the articling term.
The following examples set out different options for how to integrate PREP with the supervised practice portion of articling, to form the 12-month articling term.
Student-at-Law Completes Regular PREP and Articles Concurrently
A student-at-law taking Regular PREP will complete the 10-month PREP program at the same time as their 12-month articling position. Students must be given time off from their articling position in accordance with the PREP requirements.
Student-at-Law Completes Accelerated PREP Followed by Articles
Accelerated PREP is completed as full-time studies, usually done prior to beginning an articling position. Once a student-at-law finishes the 14-weeks of Accelerated PREP, they will then complete the remainder of their 12-month articling term in their articling position.
Student-at-Law Completes PREP without Articles in Place
A student-at-law can take Regular PREP or Accelerated PREP before they secure an articling position. Upon completion, PREP will be credited as 3 months toward their 12-month articling term. When they secure an articling position, the student-at-law only needs to complete a 9-month articling position to fulfil their 12-month articling term.
Student-at-Law Clerks with the Court
Students-at-law who clerk with the Court are required to complete a 15-month articling term. For those completing Regular PREP, they will do so at the same time as their 15-month clerking and articling position. For those completing Accelerated PREP, they will then complete the remainder of the 15-month articling term with the Court and in their articling position.
The Law Society would like to remind employers and students-at-law that students-at-law must be paid. The Law Society expects that they will be paid for the duration of their 12-month articling term, regardless of how it is configured between PREP and articling.
Questions about this change to the articling term can be directed to the Law Society’s Customer Service Department.