We hope to be a resource for all international law students looking to become a lawyer in Canada. Here are some questions and answers we think you may find helpful.
What is the NCA Exams?
The NCA is the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA). Once you complete the requirements as assessed by the NCA, you will receive a Certificate of Qualification.
It is important to know that you first need to apply to the NCA for your assessment of qualifications before you are eligible to write any of the exams. The NCA typically will ask you to write 7 exams, although it could be higher depending on your background. They may also require you to attend in class courses, although this is not common. The exams are offered four times a year.
What about other Canadian Common Law programs?
There are universities that offer individual courses (online/in person) which can count towards your NCA credits. UBC and Osgoode are the most common.
Another option is to enrol in a LLM Canadian common law program. This is typically a one-year program where you attend class and are deemed to have graduated from an approved common law program.
I got my NCA Certificate of Qualification, now what?
Congrats! You now need to successfully complete the licensing process to become a lawyer in Canada.
There is an "experiential training requirement." This means you need to get out there and get some experience. Your options are working as an articling student, which is like an apprenticeship and is ten months long, or you can enrol in the Legal Practice Program (LPP). The LPP is held once a year and consists of a four month course and a four month work placement. The LPP program is offered at Ryerson in Toronto or at University of Ottawa in French.
Ah. Don't forget. Before you can be "called to the bar" you have to write the licensing examinations. There are two - Barrister and Solicitor. Each exam is 7 hours in length and is about 240 multiple choice questions. The Licensing Examinations are offered in June (Toronto, Ottawa, London and Windsor), November (Toronto and Ottawa) and March (Toronto and Ottawa).
Any other resources you can suggest?
Ontario Immigration and the Law Society of Ontario has put together a very handy guide to becoming a lawyer in Ontario. Please check your relevant province if you are outside Ontario.
Okay, I am getting called to the bar. Any advice?
This is the time to sing your praises for all of the hard work you have done! Rest up and enjoy the moment of walking down the stage. If you are looking for first year associate positions, you are not alone. It takes time and patience to find the right job. Keep your chin up and in addition to perfecting your resume, join networking groups such as the Ontario Bar Association (or a relevant association in your province). The OBA has practice areas you can join based on your interest and the events are great networking opportunities.