Legal Excellence Program Evaluation, Management Response and Action Plan

Project Title: Evaluation of the Legal Excellence Program (LEP)

Responsibility Centre:

Conclusions Recommendations Management Response Action Plan Responsible Manager
Planned Implementation Date
Role of the LEP

The introduction of the Law Practice Model means that there will be an ongoing need to recruit entry-level lawyers. The Legal Excellence Program's (LEP) role in recruiting future LA-01s needs to be reviewed in light of the new direction the DOJ is taking. There are considerable advantages to hiring through the LEP; most notably that DOJ articling students have been evaluated by several managers over the course of their articling term and in a sense, they have been already "test driven" by the Department; and they can be hired immediately following the successful completion of their articles as there is no need for a second competitive process. The disadvantages are that it takes time and resources to develop articling students and they are only available for hiring following the successful completion of their articles and admission to the Bar.

There is considerable opportunity to improve the Program, which will require dedicated resources, both financial and human.
1. Given the recent decision to concentrate external hiring of legal counsel at the LA-01 level, the Director General of Human Resources and Professional Development Directorate (HRPDD) should consult with the portfolios, sectors, relevant ministerial committees (e.g. HR.Com, Employment Equity, Official Languages) and regional offices to determine which process or combination of hiring processes will be used to hire the entry-level lawyers, and subsequently, to establish the role of the LEP and the ongoing resources required to support this initiative. Agreed.

We will determine the combination of hiring processes to be used to hire entry-level lawyers, including the role of the LEP in such recruitment. This assessment will take into account the objectives and numeric goals of the Law Practice Model and resource requirements.
The LEP Working Group (WG) has been established as the primary vehicle for undertaking the elements of this action plan including consultation with stakeholders.

The LEP WG will recommend to DOJ senior management a combination of hiring practices to be used to hire entry-level lawyers, including the resource requirements
Co-chairs of LEP WG Note: All action plan items to be completed by Summer 2011 with specific delivery dates to be determined for each item.

Note: All WG recommendations will be submitted to DOJ senior management for approval as required
2. Develop results-based objectives for the LEP, supported by a performance measurement and reporting strategy that will support management decision-making at the national level. Agreed.

We will clarify the objectives of the LEP and the related performance indicators.

Performance and related information will feed into annual HR planning exercises to determine the annual intake of articling students.

Performance information will be used to support decision-making around ongoing improvements and changes to LEP
The LEP WG, with support and advice from the DOJ Evaluation Division, will clarify the objectives of the LEP and identify related performance indicators. The LEP WG will consult with regional LEP coordinators to ensure that both national and regional perspectives are provided.

The DG, HRPDD will implement the approved performance monitoring/measurement approach The DG, HRPDD will work with the Strategic Planning Division to ensure that annual planning exercises include assessment of the required intake of articling students to meet departmental requirements.

N.B. Assessment of number of articling students required must be done two years before anticipated LA 1 requirement since students are hired at beginning of last year of law school.
Co-chairs of LEP WG

Governance Structure

The evaluation found that the LEP lacks a clear governance structure. As a national initiative, there are no explicit roles and responsibilities set out for the key departmental stakeholders. Consequently, the Program is comprised of a set of loosely connected and regionally managed operations without having a management framework with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. The evaluation found that this situation has caused confusion, undermined program coherence and cohesiveness, and resulted in lost opportunities for sharing of information and best practices. There is a need for a strong coordinating function between the NCR and the regions that will work to enable LEP teams across the country to establish and achieve common program objectives and ensure that there is more coherence in the way the program is managed in the Department.
3. Strengthen the governance structure for the LEP, including establishing a central coordination function and a clear definition of roles and responsibilities of the key departmental stakeholders, in light of the role established in Recommendation 1. Agreed.

We will review the overall governance arrangements for LEP. It will clarify the roles and responsibilities of all key departmental stakeholders and in particular the role of the central coordination function located within HRPDD.
The LEP WG will review overall governance arrangements for LEP, clarify roles and responsibilities of all key departmental stakeholders, including the role of the central coordination function and that of regional LEP coordinators. The LEP WG will consult with all stakeholders. Co-chairs, LEP WG  
Common Framework for Program Consistency

Because the provincial law societies set rules and regulations pertaining to the recruitment and training of articling students, there is an acknowledged need for certain flexibility in how the LEP is managed from region to region. This flexibility is also important as there are marked differences in labour markets across the country and competitive market for lawyers. However, the evaluation identified a number of areas where more consistency is desirable. For example, the DOJ provides varying levels of financial support to students during their Bar Course and Bar Exam. Other areas where there is need for more consistency include program planning, student training, supervision and performance evaluation.
4. Develop standardized principles and guidelines to build greater consistency into the management and implementation of the LEP across the Department. Agreed.

We will review the overall LEP program design, determine where and to what degree national consistency and regional flexibility are required and develop clear standards and guidelines to improve overall program management
The LEP WG will review all aspects of the LEP program design (e.g. hiring strategies, payment of bar school costs, learning and assignment opportunities, bridging mechanisms, funding issues), determine where national standards or principles are desirable and develop detailed operational guidelines for the Program. Recommendations will then be made on these issues to DOJ senior management. Co-chairs, LEP WG  
LEP National Spokesperson and Communication Strategies

The evaluation found that there is a need for the LEP to have a "champion" or spokesperson as the absence of one has meant that the Program has lost a lot of its visibility both within the DOJ and externally. The spokesperson should be the main DOJ point of contact responsible for promoting the Program. It is important that there is strong and continuous communication between the Program and its key stakeholders: internally with DOJ management at all levels, relevant ministerial committees and the DOJ Articling Student Alumni; and, externally, with university Career Services, student bodies, Bar Associations, law societies and legal career service organizations.
5. In consultation with the heads of portfolios, sectors and regional offices, the Director General, HRPDD should nominate an LEP spokes-person, for approval by Senior Management, who will be responsible for promoting the LEP. Agreed.

The DG, HRPDD will consult with Direct Reports and propose the nomination of a Spokesperson for the Program
The LEP WG will propose roles and responsibilities of the LEP Spokesperson. Co-chairs, LEP WG  
6. The LEP Spokesperson should oversee the development and implementation of a communication strategy designed to strengthen ties with the Program's stakeholders and support increased program cohesion and visibility. Agreed.

We agree that there is a need to develop a communication strategy designed to strengthen ties with the Program's stakeholders and to increase program visibility.

The role of the Spokesperson will be addressed under Recommendation 3, including his/her role with respect to the development of a communication strategy
Recognizing that any communications strategy for LEP must be aligned with an overall communications strategy used for all recruitment purposes, the LEP WG will work with the Communications Branch to propose a communications strategy for discussion with the LEP Spokesperson. Co-chairs, LEP WG  
Sharing of Information and Best Practices

The evaluation found a need for the LEP to have a formal mechanism for exchanging program-related information and sharing of best practices, particularly in the area of marketing and student training. This would help enhance program consistency and cohesion, improve the efficiency and effectiveness of resource use and encourage innovation among LEP teams.
7. Develop opportunities and mechanisms to share information and best practices among LEP supervisors and managers across the Department. Agreed.

We will share information and best practices more broadly across the Department.
DG, HRPDD, will consult with the regional LEP coordinators to establish national protocols and mechanisms for information sharing and will undertake regular and consistent use of these mechanisms DG, HRPDD  
Program Name

The name of the Program does not contain words that reflect either the mandate of the program - recruiting and training articling students - or its home organization - the Department of Justice. While the LEP is increasingly known among law students as a DOJ articling program, it is advisable to change the name of the program to one that is more self-evident.
8. Change the name of the program to reflect its purpose more intuitively (e.g., Department of Justice Articling Program). Agreed.

The LEP WG will consider different names for LEP which more intuitively reflect the nature of the program
The LEP WG will consider possible alternate names for the LEP, consult with stakeholders on their views and make recommendations to DOJ senior management Co-chairs, LEP WG