By: Fariya Walji and Devon Johnson
The practice of law 50 years ago is remarkably different from today. Today’s lawyers are required to adapt to emerging technologies, increasing client demands, and a global pandemic. How is the Law Practice Program (“LPP”) preparing well-rounded new lawyers?
- Broadening training to include the business of law: LPP Candidates develop a business plan outlining intended areas of practice, proposed business structure, plan to develop a client base, and a financial pitch to a bank. The business plan is presented to an experienced lawyer for feedback. Equipping Candidates to chart their own course will create practices in new shapes and sizes.
- Developing client management skills: The LPP hires actors to pose as clients in a variety of settings – client calls/intake, witness preparation, and trials. Candidates also conduct government client briefings and complete an in-house counsel concentration. This allows them to solve challenges in different operational environments and experience working as an advisor to internal clients.
- Teaching negotiation skills and trial advocacy: By completing both a certificate program in negotiations and an intensive trial advocacy program, LPP candidates understand how to be effective negotiators and litigators. They learn the elements of negotiation, including managing conflict, understanding and motivating others, and being empathetic.
- Incorporating technological competency into service delivery: Technological skills will be critical to the future practice of law and facilitates the service of clients across Ontario. LPP Candidates are trained in a virtual simulated law firm, and use legal technologies including Clio for practice management and Teranet for real estate files. Technological fluency allows LPP Candidates to be adaptable and open to new automated tools, serving clients with greater efficiency.
- Augmented mentorship: LPP Mentors come from across the province, and average 15 years of practice. Representing all areas of practice and workplace settings (clinics, government, private practice of all sizes, in-house counsel), these Mentors provide Candidates with a diversity of experiences to draw upon. Mentors review the Candidate’s file work and provide guidance on professionalism and ethics, and practice/client management. Creating the opportunity for mentees to raise questions encourages both self-reflection and critical thinking.
Each year, the LPP reflects on its program delivery1 and considers how to continue to better serve the next generation of lawyers. As the legal profession continues to evolve, so should the training of licensing candidates.
1 You can see the LPP’s Year Six annual report here.