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CPLED/PREP Capstone (SASK) - Was This Cheating?


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  • Articling Student

I recently finished up the accelerated version of the CPLED PREP. I wrote the Capstone at the end of last month and recently commenced my articling term at a firm in Sask.  Right before the capstone, CPLED Admin indicated capstone assignments would be emailed/released to us at 8:30 am each of the days and then would have to be handed in by 5:00 pm that same day. An email they sent to me indicated that "students are permitted to work on their Capstone Assignments  ONLY within the 8:30 am to 5:00 pm (local time) window during their scheduled CAPSTONE."  I read that to mean you got whatever 4-5 assignments at 8:30 am, and did your best within the time frame to submit by the hard deadline. Anyone submitting after 5:00 pm would auto fail. 

However, I've encountered some fellow articling students who are now boasting about how they "hacked CPLED capstone." Essentially, contrary to my understanding of Capstone, others did not obey the 8:30 am  to 5:00 pm rules. For background, the weekend before Capstone, we were given a short topic/fact scenario to prepare for a simulated client interview on Day 1 of capstone. My peers then boasted they took this information, speculated about all the possible followup assignments, and then plugged away at pre-writing every conceivable future assignment, wether it be a demand letter, opinion letter, research memo, etc all related to the initial topic. They made their predictions based on all the possibilities from Virtual Law firm stage. Maybe this is CPLED's fault for being too predictable, but clearly those peers worked the weekend before, and in the evenings after 5:00 pm  each day of the Capstone to produce superior quality work, more than that what I was able to do in the 8:30 am to 5:00 pm window.  Albeit, not everything they pre-wrote ended up being the actual assignment, but some of what they predicted was what was actually asked of us during Capstone. They were boasting about how they saved time and were done by 2:00 some of the days and are so confident they're going to pass the Capstone. It kind of unnerves me, since I had less time and the markers might be biased after marking their work. Clearly, it would be obvious which students pre-wrote answers to the markers, since they had more time to polish things off. But is this just smart strategy or is it crossing the line into cheating? 

I've also now heard of people flat out cheating during CPLED, copying / para phrasing previous student's materials from as session or two before them. 

I'm now wondering what kind of "ethical" people do we have entering the legal profession, OR why do we have such a stupid CPLED PREP Program? 




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  • Lawyer

Firstly, that pre-write strategy is just stupid. The Capstone is pass/fail and it's not hard to pass. It's not like law school where you're being graded on a curve. These idiots are doing more work for no reason (unless you count doing a few hours of work less during the capstone days as a reason, but that's more than offset by spending time over the weekend on speculative pre-writing).

Secondly, you're just now wondering about the ethics of people in the profession? Law school is full of people who will be ensuring others comply with laws illegally getting hopped up on unprescribed Adderall, falsifying marks in job applications, compiling intelligence about other students in order to sabotage them, etc. There have also been very recent, very high profile incidents of articling students cheating on licensing exams in way more blatant ways that what you're worried about.

It doesn't stop at law school. Look at any provincial law society website's disciplinary decisions and consider that only a small fraction of ethical violations are detected, reported, investigated, and result in law society citations and published decisions. I've been called just over a year and, among other things, I've already had an opposing counsel give me his client's account of events on a without prejudice basis (in an unsuccessful attempt to convince me to withdraw a criminal charge) and then had his client testify to a completely different version of events (with a line of questions that made it obvious the answers were anticipated)--which means that he either lied to me, in which case he broke law society code of conduct rules and committed obstruction of justice, or he had his client lie at trial, in which case he broke law society code of conduct rules and was a party to perjury (I know this but I can't prove it, which is still infuriating to me half a year later). There are a lot of counsel that you should only communicate with in writing or on the record because they will lie to you and then will lie to a judge on the record about your conversation.

Law isn't my first career and I must say scumbaggery, dishonesty and opportunism isn't unique to lawyers. They probably aren't worse than other people in the aggregate. But given the responsibilities we have, that kind of shithead human behaviour that is almost universal is worse. It's more hypocritical and has worse impact than most.

The answer to your question is that the CPLED PREP program is indeed stupid and many unethical people are in the legal profession. Those aren't mutually exclusive conditions.

Edited by CleanHands
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