Information for Principals

What is a Principal?

A Principal is a lawyer, law firm or office of a law firm that has more than one office in the province who agrees to train and supervise an articled clerk in:

  • practice skills,
  • personal practice and office management skills, and
  • ethics and professional responsibility skills.

What is the difference between a Principal and a Supervising Lawyer?

The term “Principal” is used to describe a traditional articling arrangement where an individual lawyer supervises a single articled clerk, while the term “Supervising Lawyer” is used when the firm or organization is acting as Principal. In the latter case, a Supervising Lawyer will oversee the training of one or more clerks in conjunction with other participating lawyers in the firm or organization.

At the time of application, you must decide whether you intend to act as a Principal personally or whether your firm or organization will act as Principal. If the firm or organization acts as Principal, a single Supervising Lawyer must be appointed for all the clerks at the same time.

It is not possible to have both individual Principals and Supervising Lawyers in the same firm or organization.

Can I act as a Principal/Supervising Lawyer?

To act as a Principal/Supervising Lawyer, you must:

  • have carried on the practice of law in Nova Scotia for at least five years immediately preceding your application to become Principal;
  • not be prohibited from being a Principal;
  • not have been convicted of any charges pursuant to Part III of the Legal Profession Act within three years from the date of the application to be a Principal;
  • not have any outstanding charges pursuant to Part III of the Act;
  • not be charged with or plead guilty to or be found guilty of any offence under the: Criminal Code (Canada), Controlled Drug and Substances Act (Canada), Income Tax Act (Canada) and Securities Act of any province of Canada;
  • You should also consider the time you and others in your firm will be able to commit to an articled clerk. The articling term is a year of learning in which the articled clerk will need regular supervision, instruction and feedback. This requires a significant time commitment.

within three years from the date of the application to be a Principal;

  • not be participating in the Fitness to Practise program;
  • not have been suspended; and
  • not have any practice restrictions.

For a detailed list of eligibility requirements, see Regulation 3.5.2.

In some instances, a Principal/Supervising Lawyer may not be required to meet the eligibility requirements.

For further information, see Policy on waiver of five-year eligibility requirement to be Principal.

Why should I agree to act as a Principal/Supervising Lawyer?

The success of articling as an experiential training program depends on the willingness of individuals to act as Principals/Supervising Lawyers. It is an opportunity to take an active role in providing an articled clerk with knowledge and ethical guidance. It is also an opportunity to share your experiences and to help an articled clerk learn through their experiences during the articling term.

How do I hire an articled clerk?

Each year, many upcoming law school graduates are looking for articling positions. Many larger firms plan well in advance when hiring articled clerks and may have started recruiting law students in their second year. However, not all firms are able to plan this far in advance. If you are interested in hiring an articled clerk, you can participate in recruiting at law schools or advertise and hold interviews yourself. As far as advertising your position, you can do so in many ways including at the law schools or by posting an ad on the Career Opportunities page of the Society’s website.

Please note: When considering prospective candidates, an individual cannot be approved as an articled clerk unless they are lawfully entitled to work in Canada. Additionally, applicants with foreign law degrees must have completed the NCA (National Committee on Accreditation) process.

How many articled clerks can I have?

An individual Principal may only have one articled clerk. If a firm or organization acts as the Principal, it may have as many articled clerks as the firm has lawyers qualified to act as a Principal. For example, if the firm has five lawyers who meet the eligibility requirements to be a Principal as listed above, then the firm may be permitted to have up to five articled clerks. These articled clerks would all be monitored by the firm’s Supervising Lawyer.

Principal Information Documents

Principal Application Forms if Firm is Acting as Principal

Principal Application Forms if Individual Lawyer is Acting as Principal

Principal Forms Required at End of Articling Term