Province to double number of articling students to assist Crown prosecutors

CALGARY, AB – The provincial government is planning to double the number of articling students in Alberta starting next year.

Speaking with reporters Monday morning, Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer announced the province will be hiring an additional eight articling students each year starting next year. This will bring the total hired to 16.

Schweitzer says the province plans to hire 20 students in 2021, which represents a 150 per cent increase.

“The reason why this is important, is because we have to make sure we have the right compliment across the province,” he said.

Articling students are graduates from law school who work in the office of Crown prosecutors to gain experience. They can perform many of the same tasks as prosecutors.

“Right now in the province, we have a gap of about 25 unfilled positions in the prosecution service,” said Schweitzer. “This is one way to make sure we have that pipeline of lawyers coming through the system.”

He adds the province is also planning to hire 50 more Crown prosecutors.

Schweitzer says adding additional articling students will help alleviate the workloads of Crown prosecutors.

“One thing Albertans made loud and clear about the government is they want to make sure the right caseload is there for the prosecution service so these cases can be prosecuted,” he said. “Too many cases have been dropped in the province of Alberta, because we have too many cases that aren’t receiving the due care they need, simply because our prosecution caseload is too high. Making sure we have the right number of students coming into the system is the right decision to make.”

Schweitzer adds the province is offering incentives to have students work in rural communities. According to a news release, incentives include financial incentives under the government’s Premium Pay Directive, along with relocation expenses, along with ensuring students who complete their articles can remain as Crown prosecutors in the communities they worked in.