Lawyer Licensing & Competence in Alberta

December 9, 2020

The professional development of all lawyers is vital to the growth and future of the legal profession in Alberta and that is why the competence of lawyers is at the forefront of everything we do in both our proactive and our regulatory work.

Equipped with feedback from our 2019 articling surveys and a new five-year Strategic Plan that highlights competence & wellness as one of our four strategic goals, the Law Society is in a strategic position to progress our work in lawyer licensing and competence.

The Lawyer Competence Committee (LCC) is looking at the efficacy of articling as training for new lawyers, strategies for the ongoing training of lawyers beyond articling including changes to the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) program and the role of wellness in lawyer competence. This work reinforces the important role of the regulator in lawyer competence and recognizes that access to competent legal services is fundamental to the public interest.

In February 2020, the filing requirement for the current CPD program was suspended for two years (2020 – 2021) to allow us time to improve the overall competency requirements for lawyers both in articling and throughout their career. We recognized at that time that a modern and dynamic CPD program would take time to build and that is why we created the space to do so. Two key projects we are currently progressing are:

  • Establishing an Indigenous Cultural Competency education requirement for all Alberta lawyers to meaningfully address our obligation arising from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) calls to action; and
  • Working with our stakeholders to develop a new competence framework for lawyers throughout their entire career that is proportionate, effective and dynamic, and incorporates wellness as a key component.

While there is much work to be done over the next five years, we will launch the Indigenous Cultural Competency education in spring 2021. New CPD requirements will begin in September 2022. Details of the new CPD program will be provided to lawyers in advance to allow time to plan activities to satisfy the new requirements.

Future opportunities to provide feedback on specific issues regarding our work in lawyer licensing and competence will be offered to the profession as part of our ongoing decision-making.