You are on page 1of 5

EQUITY INITIATIVES DEPARTMENT

TO:

Professional Development and Competence Committees Pathways Working


Group

CC:

Members of the Equity and Aboriginal Issues Committee/Comit sur lquit et


les Affaires Autochtones

FROM:

Members of the Equity Advisory Group/ Groupe consultatif en matire dquit

DATE:

October 19, 2016

RE:

Submission by the Equity Advisory Group/ Groupe consultatif en matire


dquit (EAG) in response to the Professional Development & Competence
Committees Pathways Pilot Project Evaluation and Enhancements to Licensing
Report.

1.

Professional Development & Competence Committee presented the Pathways Pilot


Project Evaluation and Enhancements to Licensing Report (the Report) at
Convocation on September 22, 2016. The recommendations provided within the
Report will be deliberated at Convocation on November 9, 2016.

2.

Following the presentation and public release of the Report the Equity Advisory
Group (EAG) convened via teleconference on September 26, 2016 to discuss the
Report and begin to generate a response to the recommendations posed within. The

members of EAG met in-person on October 06, 2016 to engage in further dialogue
about EAGs response. On October 17, 2016 members participated in another
teleconference for final deliberations on EAGs response to the Report. The
purpose of this memorandum is to provide EAG's views and perspective on the
Report.

3.

The EAG is composed of the following individual members: Paul Jonathan Saguil
(Chair), Sharan K. Basran (Vice-Chair), Jonathan Davey (Vice-Chair), Tahlee
Afzal, Lisa Borsook, Douglas Judson, Leonard Kim, Lorin MacDonald, Paul
Scotland, Jason Tam, and Brenda Young.

4.

The EAG is also composed of the following organizational members: ARCH


Disability Law Centre, Association des juristes d'expression franaise de l'Ontario,
Canadian Association of Black Lawyers, Canadian Hispanic Bar Association,
Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association, Canadian Association of Muslim Women
in Law, Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers, Law Students' Society of Ontario,
Roundtable of Diversity Associations, South Asian Bar Association, Women's Law
Association of Ontario, and the Women's Paralegal Association of Ontario.

5.

It should be noted that individual or organizational members of EAG may make


individual submissions to the Professional Development & Competence
Committee.

6.

All EAG members share the view that the discontinuation of the Law Practice
Program (LPP), without an alternative program to take its place, will place undue
hardships on licensing candidates from equality-seeking communities working to
obtain a license to practice law in Ontario. If the Law Society votes to discontinue
the LPP, it must develop alternative ways to assist candidates from equality-seeking
communities that have faced historic and systemic difficulties in obtaining a license
to practice law in Ontario.

7.

Members are also unanimous in their concern about the increase in costs attributed
to candidates throughout the licensing process due to the LPP, regardless of whether
candidates participate in the LPP. The expenses associated with obtaining a license
are exacerbated for candidates in the LPP, as they do not earn an income while
participating in the program, and may not earn an income during the work
placement they secure through the program. The high probability of student debt
accrual in addition to rising licensing fees is likely to deter members from equalityseeking communities from entering the legal profession in Ontario, as they may
deem it to be cost-prohibited.

8.

In light of these shared positions on the LPPs effect on the licensing process,
members of EAG held divergent views in regards to whether the motion to
discontinue the LPP should be supported or refuted.

9.

EAG members in favour of the continuation of the LPP provide the following
reasons to support their position:

10.

Members believe that the LPP provides licensing candidates with an opportunity to
create relationships with legal professionals that would otherwise be difficult to
forge. Such relationships are critical since the guidance and mentorship candidates
receive during the licensing process will form the foundation upon which their
respective legal careers are built.

11.

Members state that many private law firms and organizations are primarily
concerned with attracting law students who either display exceptional aptitude in
their studies or represent an ability to attract clientele and enhance profitability. As
a result, the prevailing thought among some members is that without the LPP law
students who do not display either or both of these attributes will be less likely to
be hired by private firms and organizations, despite being capable of otherwise
completing the licensing process. The result is that such students are further
inhibited in completing the licensing process, which does a disservice to them and
to the many underserviced communities that would benefit from their expertise.

12.

Members note that law students currently rely on the LPP as an option available to
them upon graduation. Without such a program law students ability to obtain a
license in Ontario may be detrimentally affected as some students elected to forego
applying to paid articling positions altogether. Discontinuing the LPP, with little
notice to current law students, is not reflective of a public body that strives to assist
students who have faced historic and systemic difficulties when attempting to enter
the legal profession in Ontario.

13.

In contrast with EAG members who support the continuation of the LPP, members
not in favour of the continuation of the program present the following views to that
effect:

14.

Members believe the LPP creates a two-tier licensing process in Ontario. The basis
for this belief is that licensing candidates who elect the LPP may be stigmatized by
potential employers with the perception that LPP students could not attain a paid
articling position. A possible result is that students who participate in the LPP may
have to combat such a perception when seeking employment shortly after attaining
their license.

15.

Members also suggest that the LPP does not ameliorate a systemic issue, which is
that the current demand for legal positions appears to outweigh the supply of legal
positions in Ontario. As a result, the LLP transfers the excess demand for paid
articling positions to an excess demand for entry-level positions for lawyers. The
difficulty in finding legal positions in Ontario is compounded for equality-seeking
licensing candidates who are already overly represented in the group of law
students who often struggle to attain both paid articling positions and entry-level
legal positions.

16.

In addition to the views on whether the LPP should be discontinued, EAG members
also expressed concerns about the changes to the competency examination during

the licensing process. Specifically, for new licensing examinations, such as the
Practice and Procedure Examination and Practice Skills Examination, to be fairly
incorporated into the licensing process, students should be made aware of these
new formats early in their legal education to allow for adequate preparation.