By Yara Kashlan
Ryerson University announced that it will be providing a new Law Practice Program (LPP), the first of its kind in Canada, last Thursday, to start next September.
The program will be an alternative to the traditional articling program, a 10-month placement in a law firm after law school.
“The Law Practice Program opens up a whole bunch of opportunity, especially for people who don’t want to practice in a big law firm,” said Avner Levin, chair of the law and business department at the Ted Rogers School of Management.
“Articling is a familiar and established way to get into the industry,” said Levin. “Essentially we are transitioning law students into law professionals [in a new way].”
The Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) chose Ryerson to host the program based on its leadership in innovation and entrepreneurship.
Doug Downey, chair of the LPP committee and the Ontario Bar Association’s (OBA) Treasurer noted Ryerson was chosen as its “strong digital and media presence [will] provide a cutting-edgexperience.”
The program took school management about six months to put together.
“We are very excited of the technology that is going to be used. We plan on using a lot of virtual technology, not traditional lectures,” said Levin.
Technologies that will be used include interactive and web-based learning with the purpose of simulating virtual law firms. The program, part of a threeyear pilot project, will help industry hopefuls overcome the shortage of articling jobs.
“There is pressure on people coming out of law school not being able to complete their journey to be full lawyers,” said Downy.
The program will run for eight months. Four months will be inclass education, and four months will be a work placement, available across the province.
Downey said that the fourmonth class time is a structured way to give a skill-set to new lawyers.
“The [LPP] will change how students become members of the law society.”
As part of the program, practising lawyers will serve as “coaches and mentors to [the] students,” according to Janet Minor, elected bencher of the LSUC and the chair of the professional development and competence committee.
The program will feature placements in areas such as family and criminal law practices
“I anticipate [that] we are going to find, in time, that people will prefer this route,” said Downey.
Ryerson president Sheldon Levy said that a law school could be a possibility in university’s future, although it’s not coming any time soon.
“I do think that as our city grows, there will be an interest from the community for another law school,” said Levy.