Tag Archives: Foreign law degree Canada

Former Law Society Treasurer describes history of legal profession keeping foreign law grads out of the bar

This post is an acknowledgment of the difficulty that non-Canadian law graduates have historically had becoming admitted to the bar in Canadian provinces.

As difficult as it can be today, in past years it has been extremely arbitrary and unfair.

Progress has been slow. But, today graduates of many non-Canadian law schools can confidently say that they are able to navigate the NCA process and become a lawyer in Canada.

The only questions are:

1. What do I have to do to earn a “certificate of equivalency” (how many exams/courses); and

2. How long will the process take?

Foreign Lawyers In Canada

This is a fascinating article written by Vern Khrishna former Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada. This excerpt is especially interesting:

The last two paragraphs outline the history of the Canadian legal profession in keeping foreign law graduates out of the bar.

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Foreign trained lawyers moving to Canada: Do you want to be a lawyer or do legal work as a paralegal?

Modern day global mobility

We live in a world of global mobility. This includes the ability of people to “pick up” and immigrate to other countries. This also includes the ability of businesses to outsource work to other countries. We have all had the experience of calling “Bell Canada” and talking to somebody, in a Call Centre, somewhere else in the world. It is now possible for law firms in North American to outsource legal research. This means that the “work product” of Canadian lawyers includes work done by legal researchers (lawyers or not) which has been done by people NOT licensed to practise law in Canada. The same is true of other professions.

The legal landscape in Canada – Less and less legal work is being done by lawyers and more and more work is done by “paralegals” (or specialists in specific areas of law)

I am privileged to know a Canadian lawyer who graduated from law school in 1955. She continues to practise law and has practised law for more than 60 years. Think of it – 60 years.  In one of our earlier conversations she commented to me:

“So much of what used to be handled by the courts is now handled by specialized tribunals.”

I can see this trend in the years since I graduated from law school. Think of how much is now handled by administrative boards or specialized courts (tax tribunals, landlord tenant tribunals, small claims courts, etc., private arbitrators, etc.). Note that these areas of laws are handled NOT by lawyers but by people who specialize in that particular area of law. The jurisdiction of Ontario “small claims court” is now $25,000.00. That is more than sufficient for the damages in many civil disputes.

To put it simply: a huge percentage of “day-to-day” legal problems can easily be solved WITHOUT lawyers. What is needed is a specialist in “small claims court”, “landlord tenant”, etc. (Note that “landlord and tenant appeals” that go the “Divisional Court of Ontario” will likely require the services of a lawyer.)

The reality is that: Lawyers are very costly, often inefficient and often NOT the most knowledgeable people in certain routine areas.

To put it simply:

Lawyers have often “priced themselves out of the market”. To be fair, Canadian Law Societies have imposed high regulatory costs on lawyers. These costs must be passed on to clients. But, clients don’t care about the “overhead costs” of lawyers. Why should clients pay these costs if they can get their work by “paralegals” done less expensively?

Much of what lawyers used to do is now done by paralegals
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