Admission rules

New BC articling agreement and checklist in effect August 18

As of August 18, each lawyer who begins serving as the principal to an articled student in BC must enter into a newly approved form of articling agreement with that student. Under revised rules, the principal and student must jointly file that agreement with the Law Society at the commencement of articles and subsequently file a mid-term progress report and a final report to certify completion of their respective obligations under the agreement: see new Law Society Rules 2-32.1 and 2-48.

The articling agreement is one of several reforms recommended by the Law Society's Admission Program Task Force and adopted by the Benchers this Spring. To improve the overall quality of articles, the Task Force concluded that all students should obtain during articles specific experience in lawyering skills, pursuant to a new Articling Skills and Practice Checklist, and experience in at least three areas of practice. The Task Force recommended that principals and students be required to file with the Law Society:

  • handshakean articling agreement, incorporating references to the checklist, at the commencement of articles,
  • a joint mid-term report, accompanied by a plan for complying with the articling agreement by the end of the student's articles, and
  • a joint final compliance report.

The new form of articling agreement and articling checklist, as approved by the Credentials Committee in May, are available in the Resource Library/Forms section of the Law Society website at www.lawsociety.bc.ca. The mid-term and final compliance reports are currently in development, and all principals and articled students will be advised as soon as they become available.

The Law Society will accept the previous form of articling agreement only until August 17, 2003. Principals and students entering into articles on or after August 18, 2003 must use the new form of articling agreement.

Law firms in the downtown core of Vancouver that are required by Rule 2-31 to keep open all offers of articles they make until noon on August 18 must accordingly use the new form of agreement when concluding offers.

The new articling agreement is designed to facilitate communication between students and their principals during articles to ensure that students meet all key articling requirements. The agreement may be modified by the parties to meet specific requirements of a law firm, provided that the additional terms are not inconsistent with the spirit of the rest of the agreement.

The articling checklist, referenced in the agreement, sets standards against which the progress of a student can be measured during the course of articles. Students must obtain practical experience and training in a minimum of three areas of practice, as broadly described in the checklist. The agreement also sets out mentoring, ethics and practice management requirements.

Lawyers and students will wish to take note of other new admission provisions. New Rule 2-32, for example, specifies that, if a student does not live up to his or her obligations under the agreement, such as by non-completion of the articling checklist requirements, the Credentials Committee may extend the student's articling term for up to two years. A principal in such circumstances may also be referred to the Credentials Committee before any future articles are approved.

Rule 2-44(6) extends the circumstances in which the Credentials Committee may exercise its discretion to exempt an articled student from the Professional Legal Training Course. The Committee retains discretion to exempt, with or without conditions, an articled student who has successfully completed a bar admission course in another Canadian province, and now may also exercise that discretion for a student who has engaged in the active practice of law for at least five full years in a common law jurisdiction outside Canada.

Finally, a change to Rule 2-30 (which does not come into effect until May 1, 2004) will increase from four to seven years the amount of practice experience necessary to become a principal to an articled student. Once the amendment to Rule 2-30 is in effect, each principal will also be limited to having two students at one time.

To review all the new admission rules, see the Resource Library/Rules section of the website and the enclosed Member's Manual amendment package. Please note that the general articling guidelines have been updated to reference the new articling agreement and checklist. The guidelines are also online in the Resource Library section of the site and in the enclosed amendment package.