Category Archives: Foreign lawyers in Canada

Thoughts from 2009: Foreign trained lawyers face hurdles – then and now

A trip down memory lane. Clearly the demand for graduates of non-Canadian law schools has increased (and will likely continue) to increase dramatically. It would be interesting to hear the thoughts of those who are currently navigating the NCA process.

Foreign Lawyers In Canada

Foreign-trained lawyers face hurdles

By Michael Rappaport
December 11 2009 issue

[TL Price for The Lawyers Weekly, Images by]
Click here to see full sized version.

Lawyers trained abroad who want to practise in Canada must overcome many hurdles, not least of which is having their legal education and experience recognized by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada (FLSC).

The National Committee on Accreditation (NCA) is the standing committee of the FLSC that is responsible for evaluating the credentials of foreign-trained lawyers and awarding certificates of qualification that permit the recipient to apply to write Bar admission exams in most provinces with the exception of Quebec, which has its own process. In Manitoba and the Maritime provinces, the NCA’s recommendations are considered on a less formal basis.

According to FLSC statistics, in the past decade the number of applicants has more than tripled from 225 in 1999…

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Accreditation path offered to Foreign-trained accountants should be offered to Foreign-Trained lawyers

Foreign lawyers wanting to become lawyers in Canada:


In a world of Global Mobility:



Graduates of non-Canadian law schools can certainly relate to the following scenario described in an article that recently appeared in the Globe and Mail:

Accountant Tomy Devasia arrived from India with his family in 2015 but lacked the Canadian credentials required to pursue his professional career here.

Settling in Calgary, he worked briefly as a machine operator. But through the Centre for Newcomers, a Calgary-based non-profit that provides career and other support to about 10,000 immigrants and refugees a year, he discovered a pathway to resume work as an accountant.

It appears that there is solution for non-Canadian trained accountants that is not currently available to non-Canadian trained lawyers. The article goes on to describe:

As part of a 34-week full-time career skills training program offered by the centre, the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology offers a 12-week certificate on the fundamentals of Canadian accounting. The certificate consists of two intermediate-level courses in accounting and one in Canadian taxation recognized by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada.

Working with the centre, SAIT introduced the certificate in 2011 for foreign-trained accountants who had left established careers at home to settle in Canada. Over the past six years, 86 students have graduated from the program, with 16 currently enrolled, according to SAIT.

Requiring already-educated professionals to redo their accounting studies here makes no sense, says Janet Segato, SAIT associate dean of business.

“We have a lot of accountants who have degrees and master-level education in accounting from another country and have a high level of knowledge,” she says.

What trained newcomers need, she adds, is an introduction to the Canadian workplace, language skills and, in the case of accountants, Canada-specific knowledge about taxation and other financial rules. Mr. Devasia, for example, has a bachelor of commerce and an MBA from universities in India and had worked for 12 years in his home country as an assistant manager in accounts payable and receivable.

Through the education provided by the centre and SAIT, Ms. Segato says foreign-trained newcomers “can start making a contribution to the community much quicker if we can help kick-start their career path in Calgary.”

If the accounting profession (which arguably requires more Canada specific skills) has found a way to accommodate “foreign trained accountants”, then the law societies should be able to find a better way to accommodate “foreign trained lawyers”.

In any case (and this is just my personal opinion) “non-Canadian law school graduates” should (in addition to seeking bar admission in Canada) consider how to make better use of their non-Canadian law school and legal experience. There are many people who are making good livings as paralegals in Canada. In addition, certain LL.M. programs offer opportunities.

In the interim, the starting point for “Foreign lawyers becoming lawyers in Canada” is here.

John Richardson

Election of Trump generates ten fold increase in inquiries for US lawyers to be @LawyerInCanada

The “Move To Canada” article referenced in the above tweet includes:

Canada and the prospect of Americans moving there appears to have drawn so much online interest that it knocked out the country’s immigration website.

Internet searches for “move to Canada” and “immigrate to Canada” spiked Tuesday night as election returns favoured Republican President-elect Donald Trump. “Canada immigration” was also a top trending Google search and “Canada” was a leading U.S. trend on Twitter, with more than 1 million tweets.

While much of the chatter was clearly tongue-in-cheek, the website for Citizenship and Immigration Canada was down at the time. Agency officials could not be immediately reached for comment to confirm the cause of the site outage.

The site appeared to be working sporadically by Wednesday morning.

My Canadian Pre-Law Forum Blog, in addition to being a resource for pre-law students, has become a huge source of information for non-Canadian lawyers and law graduates who wish to become lawyers in Canada. Canada is a stable and mature democracy with a strong and predictable legal system. Therefore, many people wish to move to Canada to live under the rule of law (British common law in all provinces except Quebec – at that). Lawyers see Canada as a good place to continue their legal careers. The truth is that Canada is a world leader is law, regulations and (and also) high taxes! (But at least, your high taxes did get you decent public health care.)

Amazingly (who could have known?), on November 9, 2016 – the day after the Trump victory (or should we say the Democrats defeat), the number of hits to this blog – specifically the part that deals with the non-Canadian lawyers practising law in Canada – increased ten fold! A ten fold increase because of the U.S. election! Think of it!

In many cases, a desired move to Canada is motivated by a desire to “Renounce U.S. Citizenship“. That said, the practical reality of “renouncing U.S. citizenship” is coupled by:

– the practical necessity of having a second citizenship. It does take time to become a Canadian citizen

– the possibility of being subjected to the “US Expatriation Tax”. Yes, incredibly the “Land Of The Free” will seek to impose punitive confiscation “taxation” on the assets of many Americans who wish to renounce U.S. citizenship. For an example to see how Draconian this can be see the following example so how the U.S. expatriation tax is calculated on those who renounce U.S. citizenship. Those who were dual U.S./Canadian citizens from birth may be exempted from the Expatriation tax.

Of course, U.S. lawyers wanting to move to Canada must qualify under Canada’s immigration laws and must navigate the NCA process that requires foreign lawyers to be admitted to the Bar in Canada.

John Richardson – Toronto, Canada