Change is coming to the Bar Admission Program

Change is coming to the Society’s Bar Admission Program for new clerks starting articles in June 2020 and for clerks who begin articles after November 1, 2019.

The Society will move forward with a new Bar Admission Program, Practice Readiness Education Program (PREP), created and administered by the Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education (CPLED).

There will no longer be a Bar Examination once we fully transition to this program. We will continue to run three more exams into 2020 for those applicants who are already registered as of November 2019.

Why the change?

For the last four years, we’ve examined the current course and determined that, for a variety of reasons, the status quo is not sustainable. In September, Council passed a resolution to move forward with a new Bar Admission Program.

What is the new Bar Admission Program?

CPLED created the new Bar Admission Program with the involvement of staff from all the participating law societies.

Although PREP is very different from the current Bar Admission Program, all of the same skills and competencies will be taught and evaluated.

How is PREP different from the current course?

The current Bar Admission Course includes three weeks of in-person class time, 10 weeks of online assessment and a Bar Examination.

In the new Practice Readiness Education Program, clerks will:

  • work through the program together in cohorts;
  • be away from the office for two weeks (one week in November and one week in April);
  • work through a client file from beginning to end; and
  • work to demonstrate entry-level competency.

There will no longer be a Bar Examination.

What will the new Bar Admission Program look like?

  1. Clerks that begin their articles in June will start with a one-day cultural competence seminar early in July. They will complete 12 Foundation Modules online between July and October.
  2. In November, the clerks will attend a one-week in-person Foundation Workshop where they will practice the skills they learned about in the Foundation Modules.
  3. After a short break in December, clerks will return to working online for three rotations in a Virtual Firm where they will work through files from beginning to end.
  4. Finally, in April they will attend a one-week in-person Capstone that will determine if they have demonstrated sufficient competence to begin the practice of law.

For more information, please review the FAQs below or visit CPLED’s website.

Questions? Please contact the Society’s Director of Education and Credentials, Jacqueline Mullenger, at


What is CPLED?

The Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education (CPLED) is a non-profit organization that provides the training needed before being called to the Bar of Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and now Nova Scotia. Law Societies in the participating provinces require students to article and complete the Bar admission program, Practice Readiness Education Program (PREP) before becoming a lawyer.

We have partnered with CPLED for all of our online components for many years now. CPLED provided us with the online courses in our current program.

How did we select the new Bar Admission Program?

Recently CPLED conducted a thorough review of their program and determined that they needed a new program.

Since the Society is one of CPLED’s partners, they contacted us to discuss the creation of the new program. As part of the discussion, we are part of a regional working group looking at the creation of the new program and its content. We also sought feedback from principals and recently admitted lawyers in focus groups last December.

Our involvement in these discussions allowed us to see the benefits of the new program for clerks and firms. Joining as a partner in CPLED will also help the Society to share resources, increase efficiency and aid in the harmonization of admission programs across the country.

To review the various reports that went to Council on the new program, please contact Jacqueline Mullenger, Director, Education & Credentials.

Will clerks still be tested in the law?

Yes, clerks will be expected to know the law for the purposes of completing their assignments and assessments. Although the focus is on the skills, they cannot demonstrate competency if they do not know the applicable law. There will no longer be a Bar Examination.

Will this affect articling start dates or end dates?

No, the students can still begin June 1st or at other times. The only students who will be affected for the first year are those that are starting between November 2019 and June 2020 as they will be in the first cohort in 2020 and therefore will take a little longer to complete all their requirements.

Will my current clerk be affected by this?

If your clerk waited to write the January 2020 examination or failed the July examination, they will have an opportunity to write again in July 2020 rather than taking the new course.

Will there still be a call in June?

Yes, there will still be a call in June; however, it will be later in the month so there is sufficient time to complete the marking necessary for the final phase of PREP, the Capstone.

Can the clerk work while they are completing the online materials?

Yes, the expectation is that the clerk is still working while completing the online phases of the course.

However, you will need to give them sufficient time to complete their assignments. Remember that they will no longer need time to study for and attend the Bar Examination and they will not be gone for a full three weeks for the course.

If I have more than one clerk, will they all be away from the office at the same time?

No.  Although clerks will be working through the program at the same time, it will not be possible to have them all attend the in-person sessions at the same time. To keep groups small, for the best learning experience, there will be several, one-week in-person sessions for the students to attend.

If I take a clerk after June 2020, what course do they take?

The course will run twice each year provided there is high enough enrolment. All clerks who start prior to October 15th will be entered PREP. The first cohort will start in July 2020 and the second in January 2021. Therefore, if your clerk starts after July, they will be placed in the cohort that begins in January.