The principal is responsible for seeing that the student is instructed generally on the various aspects of the practice of law and of professional conduct.

As part of the articling application process, the principal agrees that the student will obtain practical experience and training in areas specified in the Articling Skills and Practice Checklist.

A principal should review the courts or tribunals listed in the section of the Law Society Rules pertaining to Court and tribunal appearances by temporary articled students, and ensure that the counsel experience of his or her student in front of these courts or tribunals is permitted and is properly supervised. These responsibilities cannot be adequately fulfilled unless the principal or another lawyer on his or her behalf attends with the student until the principal is completely satisfied as to the student's ability to appear alone.

The principal is at all times responsible for the conduct and actions of his or her student and the following should be particularly noted:

  • Except in routine matters, the principal’s client must first understand and agree that the student will be handling the matter.
  • The principal must ensure that the student, on all occasions, advises the judge or presiding official of his or her name and that he or she is an articled student and articled to the principal.
  • The principal has a responsibility to the court or tribunal to brief his or her student adequately on all matters on which she or he will be appearing alone. This applies not only to briefing on the facts and the law, but also on proper etiquette and decorum.

The principal should speak to a student about any conduct that is unprofessional or unsuitable for a lawyer.

The principal must report to the Law Society any student who, in the principal’s judgement, may not be suitable for call to the Bar for reasons that may include:

  • instances of a student being guilty of untruths or conduct towards a client or lawyer; or
  • conduct considered unprofessional or unbecoming a lawyer.

The principal must provide mid-term and final progress reports during the articling period.

Areas of practical experience

A principal should ensure that the student obtains practical experience and training in the areas outlined below.

Functions of professional bodies

  • Discuss the functions of the professional bodies and encourage the student to participate in activities of these professional bodies.
  • Review the role of the Law Society, the provisions of the Legal Profession Act, the Law Society Rules and the Code of Professional Conduct for BC.
    • standards for call and admission
    • disciplinary functions
    • requirement to respond to Law Society inquiries promptly and fully
    • obligation to report breaches of the Law Society Rules or Code of Professional Conduct for BC by a lawyer

Lawyer competence

  • responsibility to clients and the profession to maintain competence
  • responsibility not to practise in fields in which either they have not become or maintained competent
  • obligation to refer clients in a particular field to a partner, associate or another firm
  • requirement to keep current on all developments in the areas of law in which lawyer practises, particularly on new legislation
  • encouragement to take advantage of courses offered by the Continuing Legal Education Society of BC

Professional conduct and responsibility toward the courts, clients, the public and other lawyers

  • Discuss the Code of Professional Conduct for BC.
  • Encourage consultation with Benchers, Law Society practice advisors or senior practitioners if unsure of the appropriate ethical or professional position or that of other lawyers.

Areas of practical training

The principal must:

  • ensure the student has adequate exposure to the lawyering skills and at least three practice areas set out in the Articling Skills and Practice Checklist;
  • arrange with another lawyer to give the student the required experience in areas in which the principal's practice or firm, corporation or government department cannot give the student sufficient experience;
  • see that the student becomes familiar with good general office practice and is shown how to treat clients in a competent and courteous manner, including obligation to respond promptly to correspondence and telephone calls; and
  • expose the student to office practices such as maintaining general and trust accounts and generally give instruction on the way to run a law office on a day-to-day basis.

What to avoid as a principal

  • Do not channel the student’s time into particular practice areas to the exclusion of others.
  • Do not use the student as a runner or registry clerk to an excessive degree (more than an average of four hours of the student's working week).
  • Do not use the student to an excessive degree for the preparation of opinions.

For more information, contact Credentials and Member Services.