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- Changing the Articling Relationship
Change in Working Arrangements
The student-at-law and the principal must promptly notify the Law Society where the student-at-law is no longer working as originally planned (Rules of the Law Society of Alberta Rule 57.1) . You do not need to notify the Law Society if:
- the student-at-law is on a leave of absence with the approval of the principal;
- both the student-at-law and the principal expect that the student-at-law will resume working with the principal upon the conclusion of the leave of absence;
- the student-at-law will not be providing legal services of any type during the leave of absence; and
- the reason for the leave of absence does not in any way reflect on (i) the integrity, or (ii) the competence, as that term is defined in Chapter 3 of the Code of Conduct, of the student-at-law.
It is the responsibility of the student-at-law and the principal to keep track of any time that the student is away and not performing their duties. This is to ensure that the minimum requirements are met with respect to the length of articles.
You may choose to advise the Law Society of any change in working arrangements to receive further direction on meeting the articling requirements.
Termination of Articles
The termination of articles is addressed by the Rules (see Rule 57.3). There are two ways for a student-at-law or principal to terminate articles. Firstly, a mutual termination which would require the following:
- Joint letter of termination submitted to Membership (this can be sent via email, no original required) outlining that both parties agree to terminate the articles and an effective date of termination – this must be signed by both student-at-law and principal; and
- In the event of a joint termination, principals must complete the principal certification of articling period in the Lawyer Portal. This certification will be available once the Law Society has received and processed the termination.
Alternatively, one party can terminate with written notice to the other, which requires the following:
- Letter from either student-at-law or principal outlining the termination effective date and confirmation/proof that notice was provided to the other party; and
- Principal certification of the articling period in the Lawyer Portal. This certification will be available once the Law Society has received and processed the termination. Please note that if a principal will not complete this for any reason, we require an explanation as to why they are unwilling to sign these forms.
Assignment of Articles
An Assignment of Articles assigns the current Articling Agreement and Education plan to a new principal with no break in the articling term. For example, if you need to take over as a principal for someone else in your firm, an assignment is the way the articles are transferred. To do so, the student-at-law must complete and submit an Assignment of Articles Application in the Lawyer Portal. When their application is submitted, the current and proposed principal will be notified to accept the assignment. Please ensure the application is submitted and approved prior to the assignment taking effect as the Law Society requires advanced notice. Please note that a new principal is subject to the Law Society’s approval process.
Composite Articles and Secondments
While traditionally most students complete their articles at a single firm or organization, there are other options available should an unexpected circumstance arise which warrants a change in the articling relationship.
Composite articles combine multiple short-term or long-term articling positions in different practice settings to make up the articling length requirement in Alberta.
Each time the student changes practice settings there will be a change to a new principal.
Students must ensure the following additional steps are completed with composite articles:
- articles (as a whole) will meet the Education Plan requirements;
- an agreement is in place with each principal to ensure a common understanding of practice area(s), articling term start and end dates, expectations, salary, and any other relevant items;
- the Articling Agreement Application has been submitted to the Law Society in advance of every composite arrangement so that any potential concerns can be raised early on and resolved, if necessary; and
- the documents each principal completes are submitted after completion of every composite term for articling credit.
An articling secondment is when a student moves from one firm or organization to another firm or organization for a temporary period of time. For example, a student articling with a firm may spend six weeks working for a client in a corporate in-house setting.
In a secondment, a student retains the same principal for the entire articling term.
Once the student receives permission from their principal to participate in a secondment, they must submit an application for the secondment using the Lawyer Portal a minimum of 10 days prior to the proposed start date. The proposed supervisor will receive a notice to sign into the Lawyer Portal and confirm acceptance. The proposed secondment must be approved by the Law Society prior to commencement.
Secondments typically last from one to six weeks. Supervisors involved in secondments exceeding 30 days are required to successfully complete the Mandatory Principal Course prior to the secondment being approved by the Law Society. If a planned secondment will exceed six weeks, the student needs to contact the Law Society for specific approval as to duration.
Students-at-law have three years to complete their articles and CPLED from the date that they commence articles (Rule 58.1(1)). Students-at-law can apply in writing via email to Membership for a extension of the three year time limit and a decision will be made by an authorized delegate of the Executive Director. A detailed explanation about the reason for an extension should be provided.