Rule Changes for Mandatory Principal Training Approved

December 8, 2021

At the Dec. 2, 2021 Board meeting, the Benchers approved amendments to the Rules of the Law Society of Alberta to implement a mandatory training course for principals that will launch in early 2022.

The development of the training course was previously approved by the Benchers in June, and the Rule amendments now allow the Law Society to apply the mandatory requirement for principals to complete the course, regardless of previous experience.

The Law Society is working with the Legal Education Society of Alberta (LESA) to develop the Principal Training course, which includes eight lessons covering such topics as Law Society duties/requirements, how to be an effective mentor, dealing with difficult conversations and cultural competency, to name a few. Topics covered were developed in response to the 2019 articling survey and a 2021 survey of principals and students specifically regarding the course content.

From these surveys, the Law Society knows that not all articling experiences are positive, either for the student or the principal. As a result, the Law Society saw the need for training that provided balanced content while also not being too onerous a time commitment for participants. The Law Society recognizes that many firms and organizations have training in place, and we have designed ours to complement and/or supplement those programs. The Law Society believes that most principals are highly ethical and do a good job. This requirement will establish baseline criteria for principals, improve consistency in the mentorship and feedback students receive, and provide principals with clarity for their role. The goal for the course is to provide a user-friendly platform for improving the articling experience.

The course is open to lawyers in a mentorship role, supporting an articling student program, or who may be considering acting as a principal in the future. If the course is completed when a lawyer is not acting as a principal, the requirement will be considered fulfilled if the lawyer applies to take on a principal role in the future.

Parameters and Process Changes

Time Commitment

The course is approximately three hours and consists of a variety of lesson formats including readings, pre-recorded presentations and more. There will be knowledge checks and self-reflection opportunities. The course will also include supplemental resources that principals can use throughout the articling term, as needed.

Registration Fee

The Law Society has worked closely with LESA to keep the cost of the course reasonable as it is a mandatory requirement for principals. The cost of the program is $125.

We believe the professional development of all lawyers is vital to the growth and future of the legal profession in Alberta. Investing in the principal and student relationship will create a positive articling experience and provide a new lawyer with a strong foundation for an ethical and competent legal career.

Completion Requirement and Process Change

Lawyers are now required to complete the Principal Training Course prior to acting as a principal. If you know you are going to be acting as a principal, it’s a good idea to complete the course before your student applies for student-at-law status to avoid disrupting their start date.

We understand that some articles will begin before the course is launched in 2022. Lawyers who are approved between now and the course launch will have 30 days to complete the training once the course is available in early 2022. The Law Society will follow up with these individuals to assist with this process.

A new section on the Law Society website on how to become a principal will be introduced in 2022 This information will be made available ahead of the program launch so both students and lawyers are aware of the new process.

If you have questions about the training program for principals, email Education.