Training for Principals Launches Today
The Law Society has been working with the Legal Education Society of Alberta (LESA) to develop a mandatory Principal Training Course (the course), and we are pleased to announce the course is now available to Alberta lawyers.
The course is a requirement for all lawyers who want to be principals, however, the course is also valuable to anyone in a mentorship or supervisory role, or those who may consider being 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.
The course is designed to take between 3 to 3.5 hours to complete. We encourage lawyers to work through the materials at their own pace. The course 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 current and recent principals, articling students and mentors specifically regarding the course content.
The Law Society has worked with LESA to keep the cost of the course reasonable as it is a mandatory requirement for principals. There is a registration fee of $125 to cover LESA’s costs to deliver the course. When you sign up for the course, you are required to use your member number so the Law Society can track the completion of your training.
Course Requirement and Process Changes
A new section on the Law Society website is now available to provide details on how to become a principal with the new course requirement outlined and a link to sign up for the course. To learn more about the new requirement, the course, and the process to become a principal, read our FAQ.
To be eligible and approved to be a principal, lawyers must complete the course. If you want to be a principal, it is a good idea to complete the course before the student applies for student-at-law status to avoid disrupting their start date. Supervisors involved in secondments exceeding 30 days are required to complete the mandatory course prior to the secondment being approved by the Law Society.
Principals who were approved or who applied prior to the course launch will be contacted by the Membership department with more details about completing the course.
Any new principals who were approved between Dec. 2, 2021 (the date the rule changes came into effect) and Feb. 1, 2022, will have 30 days to complete the course upon notification.
Principals whose applications were submitted before Feb. 1, 2022, but are not approved by the course launch, will have 30 days to complete the course once the articles are approved.
If you have questions about how to become a principal or the application process, email Membership.
Background on Course Development
In 2019, we conducted surveys of articling students, new lawyers, principals and mentors to better understand the state of the articling system. The results raised concerns about the inconsistency of articling experiences from the perspective of both the students and principals. While the reasons for inconsistency are complex, a few of the issues highlighted were the varying quality of the articling experience and a lack of training or resources for principals.
One of the strategies to address these issues was the development of a mandatory Principal Training Course. In 2021, the Benchers approved both the development of the course and the rule amendments to allow the Law Society to apply the mandatory requirement for principals to complete the course, regardless of previous experience.
The Law Society knows that not all articling experiences are positive, either for the articling student or the principal. As a result, the Law Society saw the need for training to establish baseline criteria for principals, improve consistency in the mentorship and feedback articling students receive, and provide principals and students with clarity about the relationship. The Law Society recognizes that many firms and organizations already have training for principals and mentors, so we have designed the new requirement to complement those programs.
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 articling student relationship will assist in creating a positive articling experience and providing new lawyers with a strong foundation for an ethical and competent legal career.