THE ADVOCATE 23
VOL. 78 PART 1 JANUARY 2020
Like the Legal Profession Act, the Law Society Rules touch on the substance
of the articling relationship only tangentially. Rule 2-60(1) allows articled
students to provide legal services under the supervision of their principal.
In doing so, the Rules specify a number of obligatory checks for the principal:
the student must be competent, supervised and prepared to a level
demanded by the service provided.
The Code of Professional Conduct is fairly general in its treatment, both
direct and indirect, of the articling relationship. A good place to start is Chapter
2, which deals with “Standards of the Legal Profession”. Of note, Chapter
2.2-1 requires that all lawyers conduct themselves honourably and with
integrity in all professional matters. Commentary 2 recognizes that “public
confidence in the administration of justice and in the legal profession may be
eroded by a lawyer’s irresponsible conduct. Accordingly, a lawyer’s conduct
should reflect favourably on the legal profession, inspire the confidence,
respect and trust of clients and of the community, and avoid even the appearance
of impropriety.” Commentary 3 recognizes that dishonourable or questionable
conduct, even in one’s private life, may be subject to discipline by
the Law Society. The Code also refers to the duties of both the principal and
the student. Per Chapter 6.2-3, students must discharge their duties under
their articling agreements in good faith. More onerously, a principal, under
Chapter 6.2-2, must “provide the student with meaningful training and exposure
to and involvement in work that will provide the student with knowledge
and experience of the practical aspects of the law, together with an
appreciation of the traditions and ethics of the profession”.
Finally, the Articling Guidelines delve most deeply into the articling relationship.
They require principals to instruct their students on the practical
aspects of law as well as professional conduct. Professional conduct and
responsibility towards clients, the court, other lawyers and the public
should receive special attention. The Guidelines describe a principal’s role
as carrying a “very heavy obligation”. Principals are discouraged from using
their students as “runners” and are advised to limit the time this takes to
about four hours per week. Similarly, the Guidelines also discourage excessive
opinion generation and stress that articles should be focused on the
practical aspect of the legal profession.
THE STUDENT’S PERSPECTIVE
As noted in the introduction, this article is directed more toward an audience
of prospective or active principals. That said, clearly it is helpful to
appreciate the concerns of students moving into the first stage of the legal
career they have spent so much time and effort pursuing.