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Observership Program for Internationally Trained Lawyers in Legal Workplaces: Final report

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The Society recently completed a successful one-year pilot Observership Program for Internationally Trained Lawyers in Legal Workplaces. The year saw 11 observerships and much positive feedback.

Read the final report:
Internationally Trained Lawyer Observership Pilot Program: Final Report (May 2014)
by Emilie Coyle, Program Coordinator

In 2008, a multi-stakeholder working group model was created in Nova Scotia for Internationally Trained Lawyers (ITLs). This working group includes supporting partners from government, academia, regulatory bodies, as well as many non-governmental organizations. The Society, Immigrant Settlement and Integration Services (ISIS), and other members of the working group identified a number of barriers existing for ITLs who were making their way through the pathway to licensure in Canada. Among many other challenges, it was identified that there was little opportunity for these potential new Canadian lawyers to connect with the local legal profession in order to learn about the practical and procedural aspects of practising law in Canada.

In 2013, the Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education funded a one-year pilot project for an Internationally Trained Lawyer Observership program situated within the Society. The observership model pairs an ITL with a Supervising Lawyer and is designed to expose ITLs to all facets of legal practice in Nova Scotia, thus facilitating their entry into the legal profession. ITLs were invited to participate in a variety of activities including attending client meetings, visiting the courts, or observing day-to-day procedures of a variety of legal workplaces.

In total, 11 observerships were completed during the pilot project. The ITLs who provided feedback on the program were very positive about the process. Most of the respondents felt as though the program met their goals and that the materials were sufficient. The legal workplaces that responded to the evaluation were very positive about the program and indicated a continued desire to participate. Cultural competence and diversity in the workplace were identified as benefits of participation in the Observership Program.