Becoming A Lawyer In Canada – Foreign Lawyers

Just  realized it’s been a long time this page was  updated. So, here  goes …

Introduction -  Who this page for?

This  information  is for “foreign lawyers”. I am defining a “foreign lawyer”  as either:

- a graduate of a law school from a law school located  outside  of Canada; or

- a member  of the bar in a country  outside  of Canada

How can you become a lawyer in Canada in general and Ontario  in particular?

This topic is of great  interest for two reasons:

1. An increasing number of Canadians are attending law  school outside of Canada; and

2. Canada attracts many immigrants. Many of these immigrants have have earned  a law degree and have practiced  law outside of Canada.

So, here how  it works. I will use the province  of Ontario as a  model. This is a bit of an oversimplification but, here goes.

1. The practise of law in Ontario is governed by the Ontario Law Society Act. The Law Society Act governs both lawyers  and paralegals (if  you don’t wan’t to deal with the NCA, you can become a paralegal). The Law Society Act requires that all lawyers be of “good character”. It then allows the Law Society to make  regulations for admission to the legal profession.

2. The regulations require that in order to be a lawyer one must complete the “lawyer licensing” process. The “lawyer licensing process” is composed  of approximately ten months of “articling” (working under the supervision of a lawyer) and passing two exams. In some cases the requirement  of “articling” can be either waived  or abridged. In order to complete  the “lawyer licensing process” one must  be  allowed to enter the lawyer licensing process. Hence, entry into the lawyer  licensing process is the most  important point of entry into the legal profession. (Note that many graduates of law  schools  located  outside  of Canada have  expressed frustration with a perceived lack of articling jobs.

To repeat: the hurdle is being allowed to enter  the lawyer licensing process. Graduates of law schools located  outside of Canada are required to get a “certificate of qualification”  from the NCA to be allowed  to enter  the “lawyer licensing process”.

3. Graduates of law schools  “located  in Canada” are  given automatic entry into the lawyer licensing process. Graduates of  law schools outside of Canada are required  to obtain a “certificate of equivalency” from the NCA (“National Committee on Accreditation”). Upon receipt  of the certificate of equivalency, graduates of law schools  outside  of Canada are eligible  to enter the lawyer licensing process.

4. Therefore, the real question is what are the NCA rules for  foreign law school graduates? You  can read the rules on the NCA site. Note that they are always changing. The basic principle appears to be that:

It is easiest for graduates of U.S. law schools and U.K. law schools to the Ontario Bar. Graduates of three year JD or  LL.B. programs in the United States or the U.K., who  have acceptable grades, will receive a certificate  of equivalency of they pass four exams.

(Note that the “three year” requirement  could  be  achieved  with a a UK two year LL.B.  and a one year LL.M.)

The four exams (Constitutional law, administrative law, criminal law, etc) are all based on aspects  of Canadian Constitutional law. Now, again this is a bit of an oversimplification. Graduates of two year LL.B. programs in the UK will have  to pass more  exams.

The principle applies  to graduates of “common law” schools in other countries (research this  yourself). It’s just many NCA applicants are graduates of law schools in the U.S. or U.K.).

Warning!! The NCA rules  are  in a constant change of change. It is important that  you understand the rules and be aware  of possible  changes. All Canadian residents considering attending law school  outside of Canada you should  research and understand the  rules before  leaving!

The Effect of  Ontario’s Fair Access To Regulated  Professions Act

In 2007 the  province  of Ontario (followed by Manitoba and Nova Scotia) enacted  legislation requiring Ontario to  provide predictable  and fair guidelines to facilitate the entry of foreign trained professionals  (including lawyers) into the professions. The impact of this  legislation is evolving.

How To Apply To The NCA

Graduates of law schools outside of Canada have found it  difficult to deal  with the NCA. The NCA has improved  over the years, but applicants still report  a high degree of frustration. Those  interesting in joining the discussion, should join our  NCA Exam Prep and Tutoring Facebook page, our NCA Tutoring Linked In Group and our NCA Exams Blog.

Those with questions may want to  leave a comment on this page.

NCA Exam Prep Courses  and Tutoring

Interestingly both the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall law schools in Toronto offer preparation courses for the NCA exams. In addition, there are private tutoring  services, at a lower cost and take  less time. (I have  no thoughts on  the  quality or effectiveness of any of these services.)

LL.M. Programs  In Canadian Law

These are designed to teach the “core competencies” that the NCA requires. At the present time  both:

The University of British Columbia;  and

Toronto’s Osgoode Hall Law School

are offering LL.M. programs in Canadian law. I  will leave it to you do your own investigation. You  would  enroll  in one of these  programs as a possible  substitute for the NCA exam requirements.

Foreign Professionals – Transitioning Into The Canadian Legal Profession

As you know, having a license to practise  law is  one thing. Getting a job is another. The University of Toronto runs their “International  Lawyer’s Program”. This is  NOT prep for the NCA. It  is NOT even related to the NCA requirements.  It is simply a program that is designed to help foreign trained  law graduates transition into  the legal profession. It’s probably a good  idea. It does take approximately one year. So, it’s clearly not for everybody.

Consulting – Attending Law School  Outside of Canada and Becoming a Lawyer  in Canada

There are at least  a  couple  of options here.

Canadian Residents Wishing To Attend Law  School  Outside of Canada:

One  option is John Kelly of Canada Law From Abroad. His  primary business is assisting  Canadian residents attend U.K. law schools  and then become admitted  to the Bar  of  Ontario. Mr. Kelly has been at this  for a number  of years. He specializes in U.K. law schools. In addition, he  has  been very helpful in pressuring the NCA to provide  clear and fair requirements. I would  say that Mr. Kelly  is the “pioneer”  in this area of consulting.

Assistance To  Foreign Law Graduates Seeking Bar Admission in Canada:

John Richardson (That’s  me). You can contact me using the form below.

Some Web Sites  To Help  You With Your Research:

Ontario Statutes

Ontario Law Society Act

Ontario Fair Access To Regulated Professions Act

What’s a  law degree? LL.B. vs. JD

LL.B. vs. JD

Joint law degrees

U.S. and UK Law Degrees – Bar Admission in Ontario

(This  is fairly detailed article.)

Organizations

National  Committee on Accreditation (NCA)

Ontario Law  Society

Ontario Fairness Commissioner

Canada Immigration Issues

IELTS Prep and English Language  Requirements

Canada Immigration requirerments

Social Media Sites and NCA Discussion

1. NCA exam preparation Facebook page

2. NCA exam prep blog

NCA Exam Prep  and Bar Admission Consultants

John Kelly – Canada Law  From Abroad

John Richardson – use this contact form or leave  a comment:

.

55 thoughts on “Becoming A Lawyer In Canada – Foreign Lawyers

  1. Henriette van Rossum

    I am a lawyer practicing in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles.
    I have a Netherlands Antilles Law degree. (meester in de Rechten)
    I am admitted to the Bar in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles.
    I would like to move (live/work) to Canada.
    Is there Is there any on line course for Bar Admission?

  2. Henriette van Rossum

    I am a lawyer practicing in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles. I have a Netherlands Antilles Law degree. (meester in de Rechten) .I am admitted to the Bar in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles.Is there Is there any on line course for Bar Admission?

  3. ashok

    i am lawyer in india having 24 years practice in india.i am immigrant having green card.i want to work in legal field in usa pl suggest.

  4. arash

    I am Arash Yaghli, iranian student, studying the master of law in India.
    I am so interested to participate in Canadian bar association exam but I don’t have someone giving true information regarding to this issue.
    Besides,I have the Iranian Bar Association Certificate to practice in Iran.
    I should be grateful if you guide me what I have to do as first step.
    I look forward to hearing you.
    Sincerely yours,
    Arash

  5. arash yaghli

    arash :
    I am Arash Yaghli, iranian student, studying the master of law in India.
    I am so interested to participate in Canadian bar association exam but I don’t have someone giving true information regarding to this issue.
    Besides,I have the Iranian Bar Association Certificate to practice in Iran.How i can be a lawer in canada?
    I should be grateful if you guide me what I have to do as first step.
    I look forward to hearing you.
    Sincerely yours,
    Arash

  6. rajesh raina

    i am a graduate in l.l.b in india and practising law in india,now i mant to work in u.k or in canada as lawyer is there any course available by which i can migrate to this countries and practice there

  7. tito ma

    I am a Bachelor of Laws graduate in the Philippines. How can i be admitted to practice law in canada.

  8. nick.a.

    arash yaghli :

    arash :
    I am Arash Yaghli, iranian student, studying the master of law in India.
    I am so interested to participate in Canadian bar association exam but I don’t have someone giving true information regarding to this issue.
    Besides,I have the Iranian Bar Association Certificate to practice in Iran.How i can be a lawer in canada?
    I should be grateful if you guide me what I have to do as first step.
    I look forward to hearing you.
    Sincerely yours,
    Arash

    If you are from a civil law jurisdiction there is no chance; if you might (unlikely) get any credit by the NCA you will never be able to get a job. If you get your certificate of qualification after having passed all the nca exams you will never be able to insert yourself in the canadian job market since all law firms require a common law degree. That renders life incredibly easier for coming from common law jurisdictions. I am a lawyer from italy I know this story very well !! it is all an air bubble canadian government should public fund legal education instead of going on with all this BS.. guaranteed…..

  9. nick.a.

    Henriette van Rossum :
    I am a lawyer practicing in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles. I have a Netherlands Antilles Law degree. (meester in de Rechten) .I am admitted to the Bar in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles.Is there Is there any on line course for Bar Admission?

    If you are from a civil law jurisdiction there is no chance; if you might (unlikely) get any credit by the NCA you will never be able to get a job. If you get your certificate of qualification after having passed all the nca exams you will never be able to insert yourself in the canadian job market since all law firms require a common law degree. That renders life incredibly easier for coming from common law jurisdictions. I am a lawyer from italy I know this story very well !! it is all an air bubble canadian government should public fund legal education instead of going on with all this BS.. guaranteed…..

  10. gurpreet virk

    I am Gupreet Singh, indian student, completed my law graduation in India in 2011.
    I am so interested to participate in Canadian bar association exam but I don’t have someone giving true information regarding to this issue.
    Besides,I have the Indianian Bar Association Certificate to practice in India.How i can be a lawer in canada?
    I should be grateful if you guide me what I have to do as first step.
    I look forward to hearing you.
    Sincerely yours,
    Gurpreet Singh Virk

  11. gurpreet virk

    I am Gupreet Singh, indian student, completed my law graduation in India in 2011.
    I am so interested to participate in Canadian bar association exam but I don’t have someone giving true information regarding to this issue.
    Besides,I have the Indian Bar Association Certificate to practice in India.How i can be a lawer in canada?
    I should be grateful if you guide me what I have to do as first step.
    I look forward to hearing you.
    Sincerely yours,
    Gurpreet Singh Virk

  12. Miss Hina Aziz

    I did LLM from Coventry university UK and LLB from Pakistan
    I NEED GUIDANCE to become lawyer in canada
    please help me

    Regards

  13. Miss Hina Aziz

    I did LLM from Coventry university UK and LLB from Pakistan
    I NEED GUIDANCE to become lawyer in canada
    please help me

    Regards

  14. Olanrewaju

    Larry:
    I am a lawyer practicing in Nigeria. I have a LL.B in one of the best Nigerian universities and i was called to the Nigerian bar 2 years ago. I want to relocate to Canada or US to practice. Is there any online Bar admission?

  15. trisha

    i am a law(LLB hons.)student in bangladesh.if i want to do my LLM in Canada,then what will be requered?and if i want to become a lawyer in Canad,then what will be the procedure?

  16. Adv Nico Strydom

    I am a South African lawyer (Barrister) that wants to start practicing law in Canada.
    Which province of Canada will be better for me to attend the bar admission course?

  17. David

    I am a Canadian/New Zealand citizen and am currently enrolled in an LLB programme in NZ.

    My question is slightly different – since I have three more years of study I have the option of doing an exchange to another international university for one or two semesters. From what I’ve been told there are approximately five exams you must pass to be able to practise law in Canada with your foreign degree (this example was from BC I believe). Can anyone provide me with details on courses to take to make this process easier down the road? Also, would completion of any courses at a Canadian University with a certain level of proficiency reduce the number of examinations you must take prior to practising law in Canada?

    Many thanks.

  18. Iftikhar Ahmad bhatti

    i am law graduate and practicing as a lawyer in pakistan and i want job in legal field in Canada how it can possible

  19. Nilam Dave

    I am a lawyer in india i am practicing in india i would like to work in canada what will be required.

  20. Eleonora Colombo

    I am a graduate student from Italy (bachelor and master degree in law). I would like to become a lawyer in Canada (better in Ontario). What kind of academic path would you suggest? Is it easier to find a job in the legal sector of a company?

  21. Jerry akhator

    I’m a foreign law graduate with a third class division L.L.B degree. I have not attended law school, and have not been called to bar. I wish to attend Canadian Law School, and practice as a lawyer in canada. What is my chance of a successful admission? Thank you. Jerry Akhator.

  22. Shamanza Shafrin

    Hello, my name is Shamanza Shafrin. I’m an LL.B Honour graduate from University of London external programme with a lower 2nd class. My campus was in Dhaka, Bangladesh where I attended live classes as a full time student. I still have not applied for the Bar Vocational Course in UK. I want to know if there is any chance or possibility of getting admitted to any one of the Bar Soceity of Canada being a non-citizen or a non-immigrant. If not, what are the requirements that I need to fulfill in order to be eligible ?

  23. reventh

    i am llb student in india .i want do llm & i want to practice in canada.what are process

  24. Q B Irshad

    i am an advocate of Supreme Court of Pakistan & i want to to be a lawyer in Canada. Please advice me that what sort of steps i should take ?

  25. B.S.Bedi

    kdly provide the details for doing law course in canada for a gratuate of india & also law degree / or courses in Canada for secondary passed student from india nd which will be best beneficial .

  26. Taranjeet kaur

    I am enroled as advocate at chandigarh HC
    Completed LL.B from rajisthan
    want to go fo futher studies i.e LL.M
    from foreign university
    guide me hw it be done.

  27. ch arbaz gill

    hi i am arbaz gill from pakistan ..i did b.a and i want to do internation llb & i want to paectice in
    pakistan what are process

  28. temilolu

    I have a law degree from nigeria and have completed the law school am wishing to relocate to canada, would be glad if you can tell me the requirements for practicing law in canada with my nigerian law degree.

  29. funke

    I have a law degree from Nigeria and completed law school 7years ago and a master degree in UK,wishing to relocate to Canada what do i have to do to practice in Canada

  30. IPesqChicago

    @ Henriette van Rossum or anyone else who might have an answer. I am curious about the requirements to practice law in Curaçao/Antilles. I graduated from an accredited United States law school. Do you know if any additional schooling is required to practice? I am having trouble finding any information about this.

  31. Mrs. Deepa Sanjay Kulkarni

    I am a practising lawyer in india for last 18 years. I have done LL.B. and LL.M. At present i am working in the field of insurance i.e. motor accidents claims , consumer forums and labour court . kindly guide me as i am interested in working in this field in canada.

  32. lalit

    i am doing law in india , iam an indian i want to do practice in canada how it is possible.
    lalit

  33. isaac Mathew Thank-God

    Iam so happy with the information provided on this site. May the almighty God reward you. Iam a law graduate and in addition completed my mandatory one year Law School program here in Nigeria. My call to bar is November 20th, 2012 here in Nigeria. It has been my desire to be a Canadian Lawyer starting from 2013. What should I do? How can I be assisted? Please, help! Phone no: 08037265414 thanks

  34. jelena

    Hello, my name is Jelena, I’m 27 and come from Croatia. I have a Civil Law diploma of a Croatian University and about a year of practice as an apprentice in a Lawyer’s Office (it’s obligatory in our country if you want to become a lawyer). I was wondering what kind of jobs in the field of Law can I work in Canada (considering my Law degree)?

  35. Nancy Brownn

    I am a Law graduate in Nigeria but I haven’t gone for law school(not being called to the Bar), is it possible for me to enroll in a canadian Law school and also practise in canada

  36. isaac Mathew Thank-God

    I really want to be a Canadian lawyer but need help on how to prepare for the exam.

  37. Reine

    Hi there. I have an LLB degree from a civil law jurisdiction, an LLM from the US and I am licensed to practice in the state of New York. Does being licensed to practice law in the US make a difference in the licensing process in Canada? Thanks.

  38. Petunia Kekana

    I am a final year law student in South Africa.After completion i would like to persue a post graduate medical law course in one of the institutions in canada.Please advise me in that regard.

    Thank You

  39. Dr.Jayant S.Chiwhane

    I am Executive Engineer in Public Works Department of Government of Maharashtra in india.I have education as B.E.(civil).LLB.PGDHR.LLM.PhD.I wish to work in CANADA as TECHNO-LEGAL LAWYER.What are career prospects for me in CANADA. in Government as well as Private Sector…..kindly reply…..
    Regards….

  40. Anuj gautam

    I have completed my Ballb degree from india on 18 december 2012 i want to work in insurance field in canada matters related to accident claims,consumer claims etc. Pls guide me for my first step. your sincierly, Anuj gautam

  41. okhawere agbons kayla

    I am a practising lawyer in Nigeria called in 2006,also have a prior LLB in 2004,pls what are the requirements for getting called to the Canadian bar.

  42. Riaz Ali

    i am Riaz Ali from Pakistan. I have been practicing as a lawyer in Pakistan for last four years. I am enrolled as an Advocate of High Court at Pakistan. Plz suggest me how to get opportunity to work as an advocate in Canada?

  43. Ernest Silva

    I am an attorney-at-law from Sri Lanka holding LL.B (4 years SL) and LL.M from the University of West London, recently obtained PR to live in BC Canada. Additionally I hold the Life membership of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka and the Professional Association of Sri lanka.Wish to know whether I could engage in the legal profession in Canada with the above academic and professional qualifications.

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