The licensing scorecard // News

The Law Practice Program (LPP) offers an alternative path for lawyers to get licensed in Ontario. We tally the advantages and disadvantages of this brave new world

By Daniel Fish

On Friday March 14th, 2014

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Starting this September, law school graduates can skip articling if they enrol in the LPP. The program consists of four months of coursework that focuses on practical legal skills, followed by a guaranteed four-month work placement — to be run in English by Ryerson University and in French by the University of Ottawa. Here’s what the players in the legal profession stand to win and lose if they opt for the LPP.

 

Students

LPP StudentsUpside

Rejoice, the articling shortage is over! About 15 percent of law grads looking for articling gigs in Ontario don’t land one. Now, they’ve got an almost-guaranteed path to becoming a lawyer (provided they pass the bar), and so do the growing number of grads from international law schools looking for work.

Downside

Money. Even if work placements pay their LPP students, as Ryerson intends, they only last four months, compared to articling jobs that come with paycheques for 10. Plus, LSUC is raising the one-time licensing fee for all students from $2,400 to $4,300.

 

Firms

LPP FirmsUpside

Small and rural firms that can’t afford an articling student might find the budget for an LPP student. Plus, it’s possible that LPP-ers could require less on-the-job training — they’ll have learned practical skills in their coursework.

Downside

The LPP schedule is rigid: work placements start every January, no exceptions. Also, the program only runs for four months, which is not a lot of time to train and get to know a student before making a hiring decision.

 

LSUC

LPP LSUCUpside

No more grumbling from law schools and recent grads about the lack of articling positions in Ontario. The Law Society has outsourced most of the hard work — training grads and finding work placements — to third parties.

Downside

They’re on the hook if the LPP leads to a two-tiered licensing system that ghettoizes LPP grads.

 

Ryerson University

LPP RyersonUpside
A chance to raise its profile in the legal community — and maybe become a full-fledged law school in the future? Plus, with most of the coursework taught online, Ryerson reinforces its brand as an innovator in web-based education.
Downside
Ryerson is an outsider in the legal world, so it has to prove to the industry it can offer a viable alternative to articling. Short term, it has to find work placements for a maximum enrolment of 400 LPP students.


Read why Australia is giving up on the articling system.