Impact of COVID-19 on the Bar Admission Program
In response to concerns from both students and the legal profession related to the economic and logistical challenges that are resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Law Society of New Brunswick has made changes to the articling requirements to provide flexibility for both students and law firms as they navigate the articling period.
IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON JUNE 16, 2020 ADMISSION CEREMONY
The June 16, 2020 admission ceremony is scheduled to proceed with modified procedures allowing for remote attendance, if required. Candidates eligible to be called on June 16 can expect further communication in the coming weeks with relevant details.
IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON 2020/2021 BAR ADMISSION ACTIVITIES
Bar Admission Program – Application Deadline [No Change]
The Bar Admission Program registration deadline has not changed and remains June 1, 2020. It is important that candidates submit their application for admission by this deadline regardless of whether they have secured articles as the first educational component of the course begins on June 11, 2020. Please consult the 2020/2021 Important Dates section of our website for a complete program outline.
The registration form and Form 1 (both required by June 1) are found in the Forms section of our website under the “Admission” heading. Here, you will also find Forms 2, 3, and 4, which are required within 2 weeks after articling begins.
Please submit all forms and documentation electronically by email to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please refer to our directive on witnessing declarations, applicable to Form 1.
Bar Admission Program and Bar Examinations [No date changes; delivery changes as required]
In the normal course, the 2020/2021 Bar Admission Program contains a combination of computer-based learning and assessment, and in-person learning and assessment. The first in-person session was set to take place on June 11-12, 2020. At present, we anticipate that we will not be able to hold this session in-person; however, details on alternate (remote) delivery will be communicated to candidates registered in the program after the application deadline of June 1, and we do not anticipate a delay in delivery of this session.
Similarly, the Legal Knowledge Exam scheduled for July 22, 2020, will proceed with amended invigilation procedures in the event that we are unable to offer group invigilation at UNB and UdM. A final decision, and details surrounding the alternate procedures (if triggered) will be communicated to registered candidates after the June 1 application deadline.
Although the Intensive Skills Training sessions and Professional Skills Examination in the fall months seem far off, we are developing alternate delivery procedures if in-person attendance cannot occur such that delivery would not be delayed.
Bar Admission Program – Articling Requirements [Change to minimum articling term]
For candidates enrolled in the 2020/2021 admission program, who begin articles after April 1, 2020, and would, but for an insufficient articling term be eligible to be called in June 2021, the minimum articling term is reduced from 12 months to 9 months. With the June 2021 admission ceremony currently scheduled for June 15, candidates would be required to complete their 9 months of articles no later than June 14, 2021. This means that the latest possible start date is September 14, 2020.
As with the regular 12-month period, the 9-month articling term is inclusive of Bar Admission Program activities that occur during the articling term. Out of an abundance of clarity, a candidate slated to begin articling on September 14, but who is registered in session A of the Intensive Skills Training which runs from September 14-25, would still satisfy the 9-month requirement so long as they begin work on September 28, 2020.
Not withstanding the forgoing, candidates and principals are encouraged to begin articling terms earlier than September 14 wherever possible to allow for firm and articling orientation prior to commencing the Intensive Skill Training session.
Please note that the period of time during which a candidate is a student-at-law, and subject to Law Society oversight, is not being reduced, and remains one-year. Therefore, candidates beginning articles earlier than September 14 and who complete the minimum 9-months prior to June 2021 are not eligible to be called prior to June 2021; therefore, candidates and principals are encouraged to extend articles beyond 9-months where possible.
The foregoing is based on information currently available. If further delays occur, Council will reconsider its decision. Fairness to 2020/2021 candidates in not delaying their admission to the profession, while ensuring protection of the public through a new and robust admission program containing rigorous training and evaluation, were key considerations. There is value in providing a piece of certainty and reassurance to candidates and principals during this time. Avoiding a delay in the call of 2020/2021 candidates will also avoid trickle-down effects for the 2021/2022 candidates who would likely experience difficulty securing an articling position by June 2021 if the prior year candidates had not finished their articling term.
If you have any questions, please contact the Director of Admissions, Danielle Kershaw, at email@example.com.
Law Society of New Brunswick
68 Avonlea Court
Fredericton, NB E3C 1N8