Myth: Law students must pass a bar exam before practicing.

Busted: In Manitoba, as well as other provinces in Canada, there is no such thing as a bar exam.

After graduating law school, the most common question I got asked was, “so, when do you write the bar exam?” While this would be the right question to ask if I was planning to practice in, say, Ontario or Quebec for example, the requirements for being called to the bar differ substantially between provinces. A common requirement is the requirement that graduates complete a period of articling which can range from 6 months (in Quebec, for example) to 12 months. The articling process requires law graduates to work under the supervision of a principal lawyer and gain hands on practical experience working in the profession. It is effectively the legal equivalent of a “practicum”.

Beyond articling, in Manitoba (as well as Alberta, Nova Scotia, and Saskatchewan) rather than writing a bar exam, law graduates are required to register and complete the Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education’s Practice Readiness Education Program (PREP). PREP is intended to assess and build-upon the skills required of a lawyer in practice and is completed in 4 phases:

  • Phase 1: Foundation Modules;
  • Phase 2: Foundation Workshops;
  • Phase 3: Virtual Law Firm;
  • Phase 4: Capstone Assessments.

Throughout these phases, PREP students are required to complete various legal tasks involving interviewing, drafting, negotiating, practice management and trust accounting, and working through simulated client files from beginning to end.

The purpose of the program is to gain Entry-Level Competence in core areas such as practice management, professional ethics, and the legal knowledge and skills required of practicing lawyers. Effectively, it is a program designed to take the knowledge you gained in law school and begin applying it to simulated legal scenarios to ensure that once your articling is completed and you’re called to the bar, you’re ready to hit the ground running and properly manage client files from start to finish.

You can find more information about articling and the PREP program at The Law Society of Manitoba’s website – Articling Program & PREP.

If you have any questions regarding the PREP program, articling requirements, or law school in Manitoba in general, feel free to reach out to me at