At the time of writing, I still don't know if I have passed my Interviewing and Counselling CE, and I haven't done my Negotiations CE. However, with one week to go I think I am qualified to give advice as a person that has been through it. So here's some unsolicited advice about CPLED for the potential 3Ls reading.
1) Do all of your assignments
I know it's tempting to not do the optional assignments because there's much better things you can think of to do on a Saturday morning and when most of your friends are not doing the assignment.
a) The benefits of doing the optional assignments:
- learning what your LGF likes - some LGFs will give you what specific things they are looking for, like more white space, more bullet points and less quoting from other sources. This will be important for your Competency Evaluation (CE)
- passing your CE - the CE is always a combination of the previous assignments, so it's in your best interest to do the assignments. Otherwise you are left to do the work of the previous assignments in order to complete the CE. Why not do something week by week, instead of crash course learning an entire subject matter? Furthermore, you learn from your mistakes on something that doesn't count.
- don't just do the readings - I have some law classmates that don't do the assignments for submission and think that reading the assignment and doing the CPLED readings will suffice, which is not true. Often times, the CPLED readings are not helpful to doing the assignment and you must refer to outside sources to answer the assignment.
- covering your ass - I think if you do all of your assignments, but still fail the CE you can show the firm/your principal that you did everything in your power to do well and that you're not slacking.
2) Take out the Legal Education of Alberta blue binders on the subject matter
These are materials written by lawyers for lawyers who have already done the research. They break things down in a simple manner and often provide precedents. What I do is take out a bunch of the binders on the subject matter for the module and read those to answer the assignment.
3) The percentage that you need to pass for a CE is 60%.
For some odd reason, when I was in danger of failing a CE, I talked to 2 classmates and one told me in order to pass, you need to get 66%. Another classmate told me 50%. This is coming from people who went to the same presentation as I did and has had 7 years of schooling. It's clear they didn't communicate at the presentation that in order to pass a CE, you need to get 60%.
4) Talk to people or don't talk to other people
The benefits of talking to other people is that it's nice to hear from them, that they also found the assignment or they found an issue confusing as well and it's just not you.
The disadvantage with talking with other people about the assignment is they may be writing other different things than you and may put doubt into your analytical thinking.
Another disadvantage is that you realize how subjective the marking system is. For example, in Wills I drafted certain provisions that my LGF said were unnecessary. However, my classmates drafted the same provision and didn't get bad feedback on it.
5) Don't spend too much time on it
Looking back on the optional assignments, I realized I stressed out way too much about and in most cases I spent way too much time on it. I liked my approach in the last module, where I did the assignment in 3 hours or less and didn't worry about it.