Foreign Trained Lawyers Series: Don’t let the NCA get you down

So you want to be a Canadian lawyer?

Foreign trained lawyers must prove that their law degree is equivalent to a Canadian law degree regardless of where they went to law school or how well they did. In order to do this, one must go through the National Committee on Accreditation, which is

a standing committee of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. The mandate of the NCA is to help Canada’s law societies protect the public interest by assessing the legal education and professional experience of individuals who obtained their credentials outside of Canada or in a Canadian civil law program.

(I am convinced that the NCA is actually just one person, but that’s a conversation for another time.)

In order to sit for the bar exam in any Canadian province, foreign trained lawyers must obtain a Certificate of Qualification from the NCA. One obtains the Certificate of Qualification by either 1) passing a series of challenge exams in areas assigned by the NCA or 2) taking and passing classes at a Canadian law school in the subjects assigned by the NCA.

Both processes are expensive and time-consuming, however, there are pros and cons to both. The challenge exam option is great for people who have already trained in a common law jurisdiction and have the basics of English legal principles down. You have to study by yourself, but the NCA provides a syllabus and some practice tests to get you going. There are also some commercial outlines available if you’re so inclined (however, just as in law school, doing your own outline is by far superior.). The downside to this option, though, is that you are all on your own and it can be a very isolating process. The exams are also only offered four times a year, so if you don’t pass or you’re unable to attend one of the sittings – it can take a really long time to complete the process.

As for the class option, I can’t say much about it because I didn’t do it, but all of the big law schools in Toronto, at least, offer some sort of program for foreign trained lawyers and they market themselves as learning + networking + cultural experiences. These are probably great for people who know nothing about common law or Canadian legal culture and who need a lot of support. I am sure they’re great programs, but the cost is quite high and I imagine that taking a few months off, if not more, to go back to “school” is a luxury that not many new lawyers in the country can afford.

The self-study option is also expensive and can be quite ridiculous depending on how many exams you’re assigned. Each exam is $315 and everyone has to take at least 5 (so 5 * $315 = $1575) and that’s BEFORE you enter the licensing process.

Did I mention that this whole thing is rather expensive?

Anyway – I’ve set out the steps and some information about applying below. Keep in mind that I went through this process in 2013, so I’ve made an effort to look up what I could, but some things may have changed since then.

Submitting Your Application

This is the point at which you go down the rabbit hole. The NCA is a bit of a black box in terms of how they assess applications. Basically, you send them your law school transcripts, your CV or resume, etc. and $410 (again, it’s a really expensive process) et voila! in two months you get an email with a letter attached stating that you have to take the five foundational courses and perhaps some others. When I applied there were only four required courses and I only had to take those four. However, I have known people who were assigned anywhere from 4 to 12 exams (the entire list of exams is here). Not surprisingly, the more exams you are assigned, the less likely you are to actually follow through. But – don’t give up immediately if you’re assigned a lot of exams. I have also known people who challenged their assignments on the basis of some experience they had and they were able to knock down the number of exams that they had to take.

Taking the Exams

As I said, the exams are offered four times a year. The schedule is available here and is updated regularly. Each exam is 3 hours long and is open book. If you’ve gone through a common law school before, it is your basic first year exam structure. Issue spotters, short answer, nothing too crazy.

If you have to take more than 5 exams, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to/want to take them all at the same time. It’s much better to spread it out and take like exams together to increase your chances of success. For instance, Constitutional Law and Foundations of Canadian Law are basically the same thing. All of the core subjects will have things in common that will make it easier to study for them together. Of course, if you’re asked to take Family Law and Business Organizations – you’ll just have to do the best you can.

All of the exams are offered in various locations in Canada. You can, however, apply to take them in your home country if you can find a school that meets the criteria necessary to be a foreign testing center. This can be a game changer if you’re not the kind of person that likes to sit in a room with 300 other stressed out lawyers to take a three hour exam. I was able to find a local law school in Washington, D.C. that had already been used as a testing center before and take the exams in a room, by myself, and just focus on what was happening on the page rather than hearing people cough and move around me.  I had to arrange some things with the school beforehand and have them get in touch with the NCA to let them know what was going on, but it was the best decision I made, by far.

Regardless of where you take the exam, the schedule is the same. So, if the exam is being held on a Tuesday 9AM in Toronto – you will take it on that same Tuesday at 9AM wherever you are in the world.

Now let’s be clear about one REALLY IMPORTANT thing:

Exam Results

Examinations are graded on a pass/fail basis (i.e. 50% is considered a pass).  Results will be released approximately 10-12 weeks from the date of the last scheduled exam of each session.  (emphasis added).


You don’t need to blow this thing out of the park. You just have to pass and a pass is 50%. Even though they’re asking for everything except your first born, the NCA is not looking for legal geniuses. They are looking for minimal competence. They want people who can read English and understand how common law works and understand how to apply the law to facts in a minimally competent way.

The exams can be challenging, but they’re not impossible. Use whatever resources you have available to help you understand the information. If it’s not the right time to take the exams due to family obligations or work commitments – just wait. I think you have something like 2 years from the time you get your NCA assessment back to obtain the Certificate of Qualification. UPDATE: You have five years to complete the assessed courses. (However, anecdotally, I would imagine that the longer you take, the less likely it is that you will actually complete the exams.) Take your time. Do it right. You’ll do great!

A Word Re Timing

I applied for my NCA assessment in February 2013. I heard back in about six weeks, just before the close of the application for the May exams that year. I debated for awhile about sitting for the May exams just to get it over with, but I didn’t think I would have enough time to study properly. I ended up sitting for and taking my four exams in August 2013. When the NCA says that results will take 10-12 weeks, what they really mean is results will take 12 weeks, but we like to be optimistic. I received my results approx. 12 weeks later, but it was too late to enter the licensing process in Ontario at that time, so I had to wait until the March 2014 process opened in January or so to start that process.

Although the NCA is part of the Federation of Law Societies, it does not coordinate its exam dates and the dates for releasing its results with the individual law societies. So, just keep that in mind if you have a “drop dead” date by when you need to be done with everything.

Anyway – at the end, I received a very short email indicating that I had passed all of my exams and that my Certificate of Qualification was in the mail.

At the end of the day, I spent about $1600 for a piece of paper to tell me that my law school education was roughly equivalent to that received by Canadian students. If I were making the rules, I think I would just make the bar exam harder and let anyone sit for it because I fundamentally believe that increasing the barriers to entry into the legal field is bad for lawyers. I was fortunate that I had a job lined up and was able to expense a lot of the costs associated with becoming a lawyer in Canada, but I know it’s a much harder process for most and I don’t honestly see why that has to be the case.

Have you been through the NCA process? Do you have any tips/tricks to share?

Check out my first post on Foreign Trained lawyers


91 thoughts on “Foreign Trained Lawyers Series: Don’t let the NCA get you down”

  1. Hi Valarie,

    I recently received my NCA assessment and due to the nature of my degree (distance-ed), I was granted two years of required in-class modules to complete. However I had submitted letters from the schools affiliated with my university where I obtained my law degree indicating the number of hours I was in class and the nature of the courses. The NCA’s response is that the schools are not law schools, and therefore, not considered in the assessment for mode of study. However, on the NCA website, it explicitly says that if the schools where the courses were taken are officially affiliated with the university (which they are), the in-class time will be taken into consideration. From the experiences of those around you, would you say that the chance of reducing the requirement of school to one year is high if I submit an appeal? It is very frustrating considering I did not actually complete the degree via distance education and my professors are renown in England and Wales.

    Thanks for your help in advance.

    Kind regards,

    1. Hi K –

      I’m sorry to hear that you did not like the assessment you got from the NCA. I do not personally know anyone who has gone through the appeal process, so I have limited information available, but in a situation like this – where going through the appeal may substantially reduce the number of courses you have to take – I think that it’s a worthwhile endeavor. It’s difficult to know, though, how that’s going to turn out because I generally found the entire process to be a bit of a black box. It may be helpful to contact the NCA office directly before you file the appeal. I found that they did try to be helpful and you may be able to explain things better to them over the phone or at least find out if there’s additional information that you can provide that would help them. I’m sorry I can’t be of more help – good luck with the process and let us know how it goes!

    2. Hello sir ,
      1. can you tell me about IELTS requirements , whether IELTS academic or IELTS general required for NCA assessment ? Whether I will have to submit my IELTS score with assessment application or after assessment ?
      2.I have two years experience as active law practice and gained 49.9 % overall ..
      3.what you think about my application ? Will they allow me to sit in all subjects exam or I will have to pursue any law course .. Kindly note that my law degree fall in ambit of common law jurisdiction . And in rules and policies of NCA ,Pakistan is included in Appendix A , for Pakistani degree holders LLM or other law degree is not mandatory .

    3. Hi, I have a quick question. I am also planning for NCA assessment and I did my LLB from University of London as an external student with a 2.2. In addition to that, I did my LLM from Cardiff University. Do you think that NCA will reply to me with that same feedback.

  2. Can you please let me know which facility in Washington DC did you arrange as venue for your NCA exams? How far off did you have to make arrangements and what are the logistics involved -ie fees, coordination etc.

  3. Hi Pinkie –

    I took my exams at the Catholic University’s Law School. I made the arrangements for the exams about 3 months in advance. I would have given more time if the school had not already been approved as an off-site location. I did not go through that process, so I’m not sure what that would entail. The school did not charge me anything to take the exams there, but I did all of the coordination between the school and the FLSC. I hope that helps!

  4. Valarie,

    Thank you for this informative post! I suspect the surge in recent comments may have something to do with the recent election results in the United States 🙂 just wondering if you can comment on the relative difficulty of the NCA exams vis a vis the New York bar exam (on the off chance you took it) or the MBE. Like you, I’m also looking to get licensed in Ontario after I get my accreditation.



    1. Hi Erik –

      I did take the NY bar exam, so I have some thoughts about this. My short answer is that the ON bar exam is much easier than the NY bar exam. However, there are two things that I think you have to keep in mind: 1) In my experience, taking a second bar exam is always easier because you know what to expect out of the process and, hopefully, you have some practical experience that you can bring to the table; and 2) if you’ve taken the NY or CA exams, you’re likely to find most other bar exams relatively easy.

      I will do a more in-depth post about this when I find some time, but basically, the ON exam is in two parts – solicitors and barristers – taken on two different days, two weeks apart. It’s a logistical headache, but manageable. The entire exam is multiple choice. This fact alone makes it much easier than the NY bar exam. You still have to study, but you don’t have to regurgitate specific sections of the state criminal code from memory. Also, the ON exam is open book. I know. The exam also has a really high pass rate when compared to NY or CA. So, if you’ve already taken and passed the NY bar, I do not think that you will have trouble getting through the ON bar exam. The most difficult part is the long slog through the bureaucratic process leading up to it. I hope this helps!

      1. Thanks for the speedy response! I have taken three bar exams (NY, NJ, and CT). If I take the NCA and the Ontario exams, people are going to start thinking this is a hobby of mine.

        In addition, my wife and I are simultaneously applying for residency without employee sponsorship. It sounds like your firm transferred you to T.O., which meant you didn’t have to worry about that. My biggest fear is I go through the licensing process only to find out that I can’t get into the country. The good news is that solicitors and psychotherapists/social workers (my wife’s profession) are on the priority occupation list, so hoping that increases our chances.

        Last thing: since you got transferred from the US, I am assuming you do transactional work, rather than litigation (maybe an unwarranted assumption). Any idea what the life of a litigator in Ontario is like compared to the States (hopefully lower billable requirements!!!).

        BTW, great blog!

      2. Hi Erik –

        Thanks! Another great question that could be a post all on its own!

        For context – 1) I was not transferred. I interviewed and got a job offer before I left the U.S. so I went through the process of getting a NAFTA visa at the border. 2) I was doing transactional/regulatory work before, but I now do litigation. I also spent time at a large firm in TO and am now at a litigation boutique. Re lifestyle – it really depends on where you end up, but I would say, in general, the lifestyle is more manageable here. Billable hour requirements aren’t as high, but neither are salaries and the exchange rate is not in our favor. However, more so than some of the bigger cities in the U.S., Toronto (if that’s where you’re planning to go) is a very neighborhood-y city and it’s very easy to live in/get around. It reminds me more of Chicago than NYC.

        Depending on your time frame, it would definitely be worthwhile to start reaching out to firms here and making as many connections as you can. Sounds like you’re in the Northeast, so the extent that you’re able to come to Toronto and plan some coffee dates, it will help. The bar is quite small here and most people within a given area know each other. There are also only 11 law schools in Canada (I think) so many of the lawyers also went to school together. I hope this is helpful. If you have further questions, we can perhaps set up a call. Don’t post your number here, but let me know if that interests you and I’ll message you privately. Thanks for reading!

      3. Wow! It is so kind of you to offer to talk to me. I’m very much interested! So, I’ll keep an eye out for your personal message. As to your question, yes I’m planning on coming to Toronto. I actually lived there for 4 months many years ago and have been dying to go back. Again, thanks so much for offering to chat with me… Looking forward to it!

      4. hi Valarie

        I am in process of applying for NCA. If you dont mind, can you share your email id so that i can contact you to address some of my queries?
        I have applied for PR and hoping to get my PR by August.
        In case you want to contact me to help me with my queries, my emial id is and phone number is +91-9769144268.

  5. Hi Valarie,

    Thanks for your post it’s nice to see some extra information on the topic. I’m in the process of applying for the NCA assessment and I am currently a member of the New York Bar. Do you if I need to get a copy of my bar exam results sent to the NCA as part of the process? The application says a official transcript for any examination or courses completed but I’m unsure of how to get this from the New York Bar or if it is necessary.



    1. Hi Megan –

      You shouldn’t have to send in your bar exam results, but you will likely need to request a Certificate of Good Standing from whichever court department admitted you. For example, because I never practiced in NY, I was admitted to the third judicial department and you can find their Certificate of Good Standing request form here: As Pinkie mentioned, you should have your law school transcripts sent directly to the NCA.

      I hope this helps!

  6. Hi Megan,

    I have just submitted my requirements to the NCA. As mentioned in the NCA website, they are requiring candidates to submit original transcripts (as opposed to copies or certified true copies) of courses taken and original certification of bar exam results.

    For your course transcript, you may request your law school to send a copy of your original transcript directly to the NCA. On the other hand, you may request for a certification of exam grades from
    NCBE (see www.

    Hope this helps.


  7. Hi Valarie
    I have already been assessed by NCA and offered 5 mandatory challenge exams. I am looking for any ready made study material / easy to understand books apart from some personal coaching,preferably online. I studied law but but never practiced it as my profession. This is the reason I have many apprehensions on getting through the exams.
    I would also like to ask which exams in an order to be taken up if given one by one as I feel there may be some common topic to relate to.
    Asking little more now, how you see the prospects of a new lawyer in current scenario,especially for mature persons like me (49 yrs).
    M.P Singh

    1. Hi M.P. Singh, my name is Venugopal Gummi. I did not law from India and now I live in Ottawa, Canada. I am also in the same boat like you in terms of age. In fact I am 9 years older to you. I am also trying to complete the NCA exams once my credentials evaluation is done. If you get this message, please write to me on my email ID: We will take it from there. Regards, Venugopal Gummi.

    2. hi

      I am in process of applying for NCA. If you dont mind, can you share your email id so that i can contact you to address some of my queries?
      I have applied for PR and hoping to get my PR by August.
      In case you want to contact me to help me with my queries, my emial id is and phone number is +91-9769144268.

  8. Hi M.P. –

    Thanks for your comment. I will take each part of your question in turn:

    1. Regarding study materials – the free option is of course to use the NCA provided syllabi, which is what I did. You can find them here: I bought the books and had some old outlines from a friend that I updated as I went through the materials. If you’re looking for something more structured, I believe that Osgoode offers a program: I didn’t do this (and I don’t think it was available at the time) so I can’t speak to it, but I’m sure they would be happy to help you. There are some commercially available outlines, but I also can’t tell you whether they’re any good or not. A search for NCA outlines will likely yield you a number of results.

    2. Regarding the order of exams, this is another area where looking at the NCA syllabi can be helpful as you’ll see whether the same cases are mentioned in similar courses. I found constitutional law and foundations of canadian law to be quite similar. There’s also a lot of con law in the criminal law exam, but it is not exactly the same, of course. They didn’t require professional responsibility when I took the exams, but it is on the bar exam, so it’s helpful to learn it up front. It’s definitely possible, though, to take more than one exam at a time. I took all four of the basic exams at once, which sounds like it may be too much for you, but I think taking 2 exams at a time is a good solution because I find that I’m a bit more productive when I know there isn’t any time to waste.

    3. Regarding being an older lawyer – it’s very difficult to say. If you haven’t practiced, the fact that you’re a more mature person wouldn’t necessarily ruin your chances. There are definitely people who have had one or two other careers before turning to law. That being said, I really don’t have any experience with this and I couldn’t tell you with any certainty what your options might be. It’s probably worthwhile for you to find someone who is in a similar position to you and ask them as many questions as you can. Going through a program, like the Osgoode program, may also be of extra help to you because you may meet other people who are in a similar position.

    I hope this helps! Best of luck with everything!

  9. Hi there,

    I just want to offer my own experience as to this. I completed my law degree in England and went through the NCA process successfully but with a hiccup along the way. Whoever is embarking on writing these exams, first of all good job for making it this far but do not underestimate these exams. Do not make a long road even longer as this is just the beginning. For me, these exams were way harder than law school exams. Although they are not impossible, they are for sure challenging so keep that in mind. Everyone who I would talk to at every NCA exam sitting, before the exam and after, nobody would ever admit they failed any. I found that hard to believe. Although this might be true, the failure rate is alarmingly high. So people must be failing and not admitting it. This is the reality, the failure rate is high so don’t listen to people who tell you otherwise, okay! Perhaps its the law ego that students carry but please put that to the side.

    The site noted above shows stats from NCA from 1999-2009 that only 38% percent of students successfully passed. With that being said, everyone entering these exams should put their egos to the side, study hard and also study right! Emphasis being, putting in countless hours in the library doesn’t necessarily equal a pass. You need a good strategy going into these exams. Still study hard but study effective and proper. Therefore, my feedback to everyone is, do not underestimate these exams.

    Keep in mind, lets just say you study 2 months for an exam, write it, wait 3 months for a result and let’s say you receive a fail, by the time you re-write the failed exam will be about 3 months later and then you wait another 3 months for the results… That is a lot of time, effort, energy, stress, money etc. Not being said, your future employer for articles may ask to see your NCA transcript which may make you less desirable than a person who successfully passed the first time around. Not to even mention how difficult it is to get an articling position…so you control your own destiny, do not listen to others because the hunt for articles is TOUGH!

    Good luck!

  10. Hi,
    I want to say thanks a lot for a blog like this , reading through has been very helpful and insightful. My case is somewhat similar but different at the same time. I have bee. Assessed by the NCA and required to take the five major courses but I am resident in Nigeria with no study center , guidance/lecture prep center or even an exam center, the closest place I can write my exams is south Africa . I was wondering if you know or anybody knows of any affordable program in canada or else where that one can attend prep class and write the exams ?
    I would be grateful .

    1. Hi Abiola –

      First – best of luck with your exams! I don’t know of any study centers outside of Canada, however, I believe that Osgoode Law School offers an online study program for the NCA exams: I don’t know anyone who has been through the program, but you may be able to contact them for more information and to see if they would be able to put you in touch with someone. I hope that helps!

    2. Hi Abiola,

      I just stumbled upon your message to Valerie regarding taking the NCA exams from Nigeria. I believe we are in the same boat (having also completed the NCA assessment, trying to prepare for the exams whilst in Nigeria). I thought to reach our to you just in case you want someone to discuss with in this regard. Cheers

      1. Hello,
        I hope your application worked out.
        I am also presently in Nigeria and planning to write the exam in Canada. I’ve been called to Bar in Nigeria and I would like to know what are some of the obstacles one might face during the immigration application. What visa did you apply for?
        Also, do you know if its possible to do articleship prior to writing the exam?


      2. Hi Abiola, Sola, and Ola, I hope you all successfully got your CQ and are done with your licensing process or almost done?
        (By the way, thank you Valerie for this post)

        I’ll like to ask a few questions…
        1) What visa did you apply for at the immigration centre and what were their requirements?
        Is it possible that one might get a rejection response on their application for this purpose?

        2) Is it possible to get tested here in Nigeria for the NCA exams, and if so, do you have any idea of approved sites?

        Thank you.
        Alternatively, you can email me at .
        I would be delighted to hear from you.

      3. Hello Valerie, Ola, Sola, Aina, and Biola… I am just about to begin my NCA assessment. May I askthe following questions?
        1. Who issues the Certificate of Good Standing? and what is the procedure for obtaining it?
        2. May I confirm that all that NCA requires are:
        i. Law School Transcript
        ii. University Transcript
        iii. Resume and
        iv. Certificate of Good Standing.

        My number is 08167568464 and my email address is…. I would be honored to be in touch with you.

  11. First, thank you so much for this post!

    I am a Canadian citizen about to graduate from an ABA accredited U.S. law school in May. I plan to take the NY bar exam at the end of July then move back to Canada.

    I am concerned that I will be required to take more than the five mandatory challenge exams (mainly because it will prolong the process that much more). I feel confident that if it’s just those five I can knock them all out in October. However, that exam period also has family law, which I never took in law school. Likewise, for the next exam period I did not take any tax law classes. I’m not sure if failing to take certain courses automatically triggers the requirement to pass the exam or not. I was wondering if you had any information on that.

    Encompassed in this issue is whether I can get my NCA assessment amended to take into account the bar exam (assuming I pass) and have bar-tested courses like family law removed from exam consideration.

    Nice to hear from somebody that successfully completed this process though. Thanks!

  12. Hello Valerie,
    I am pursuing my 5 year b.a llb course from India, now in 4th year. Could you please guide me regarding the point that one can give NCA emams before actually going to Canada. I also want to pursue my llm from Canada. So what should I do? After getting admission into llm I should start giving these NCA exams or is there any other way too?

    1. Hi Paranmani –

      You have to obtain your LL.B before you take the NCA exams. You could likely apply before you graduate, at the end of your fifth year, but you will need to send your final transcripts to the NCA before they will provide you with an assessment. However, once you’ve finished your degree, there may be a school in your area that has been or can be used as an offsite placement for actually taking the exams. You would want to explore that option at the appropriate time since coming to Canada from India would be difficult. However, if you are planning on taking your LL.M in Canada, it may be worthwhile to wait to apply for the NCA exams. I would not say that you should use your LL.M solely for the purpose of completing the NCA requirements – I think that would be a waste of time/money – but you may be able to take one or two courses that would also count toward the NCA requirements. You would not need to take the NCA exams before entering an LL.M program. You only need to take them if you intend to practice in Canada when you’ve completed your program. I hope that helps!

      1. Thank you so much Valarie for replying.
        If I take any other course and then give my exams simultaneously. Even if I don’t pursue llm, will i be able to get articling position which is necessary for being called to bar?

  13. Just a correction on what you’ve written earlier – you have 5 years from the date you applied to the NCA to finish all the requirements.

  14. I have started the process of NCA Assessment. I passed the New York Bar Exam but waiting to get admitted. Can I send my Notice of Certification to NCA as a proof that I passed the NY Bar Exam. I don’t think there is a way I can ask NY State Board of Law Examiners to send an official copy to NCA.

    Can somebody please help me out with my query? Thanks.

    1. Hi Alex – normally you would send a certificate of good standing to the NCA to show that you’re admitted, but you may want to give them a call to see if they would accept something else. In my experience they are relatively responsive to email. Otherwise, I think you may have to wait until you’re admitted to request the certificate of good standing. Hope that helps!

      1. Thanks, Valarie. I am admitted as a Lawyer in India as well, so I believe that should be enough for an assessment. Additionally, I listed “call” option as incomplete for New York Bar. I will contact them to see what they say.

      2. Hi Valerie,

        Hope you are doing well.

        I got my assessment back. I have to give the 5 mandatory exams.

        I need your guidance going forward. Please let me know if you will have some time to guide me as to how to prepare and other small things. I will be giving all the exams coming May.


      3. Hi Alex – first, I apologize for the delay. I had a baby at the end of February and have gotten behind here. Second, that’s great news that you only have to take the five mandatory exams.

        Re preparing, I would start by downloading the syllabi from the FLSC website if you haven’t already and start working through those. You should also put together outlines as you go along. If you don’t have time to start from scratch, you can find some commercial outlines online that you can update with your own notes and information. You’ll want to leave time to create ‘bullet’ outlines that are shorter and that you can use during the exams to find info at a glance. The process of doing that will help you’re studying a lot. You can also take some of the practice exams from the FLSC website and see how comfortable you feel answering the questions.

        At the end of the day, remember that you only need to get 50% to pass so don’t stress out too much! I hope this helps!

  15. Hi Valerie, thank you for this piece, i hope to take my exams in August. Is there any material or note that could be of help?
    Abiola and Aina, i am also from Nigeria but i am presently in Canada.

    1. Hi Karimat – sorry for the delay – I had a baby at the end of February so I’m behind on things here. I found the syllabi provided by the FLSC helpful to update outlines that I got from a friend, but you have enough time to do outlines from scratch which I would have preferred as a studying method. I also used the practice tests on the FLSC website and spoke with Canadian friends about the issues. I hope this helps and best of luck!

  16. Hi Valerie, thank you for this piece, i hope to take my exams in August. Is there any material or note that could be of help?
    Abiola and Aina, i am also from Nigeria but i am presently in Canada.

  17. Hi Valerie,

    I wanted to sit for this upcoming May session, which means I have a month and a half to study. How many exams do you recommend taking considering such limited study time? I went to law school in the States and have passed the California bar exam (which I found extremely challenging btw). Moreover, I would greatly appreciate any resources you used to help you prepare for these exams or any links to past exams and model answers.


    1. Hi Natalie – first: good luck with the exams! Since you went to law school in the US and, I assume, have some experience taking three hour in-class issue-spotting type exams, I think you could try to take all five mandatory exams at the same time. However, given the short time frame, if you don’t feel comfortable doing that – you may want to split it up three and two. If those are the only ones you have. You’ll find once you start studying that there is some overlap between some of the exams like crim and con law and the foundations exam. These exams aren’t like a bar exam so I wouldn’t be too concerned about that – they’re more like law school exams.

      Re resources, I don’t have anything recent so it wouldn’t be helpful for you. I had a friend who had taken the exams before provide me with outlines and then I updated them with the current syllabi. There are some practice exams on the FLSC website and I used those as I got closer to the exams to see where I was. I was also fortunate that my husband is a Canadian lawyer and i was able to talk through some of the issues with him. I hope that helps and best of luck!

  18. Dear Valarie, thanks for your post. I found it very helpful. I also met Nigerians here trying to take the NCA exams and that has been a boost since I’m Nigerian trained.

    A little about me, I hold dual Nigerian and Canadian citizenship but all my degrees come from Nigeria. I’ll be relocating permanently next year and I am looking to become a lawyer in Canada.
    I’ve read of some programs, such as the Masters in Canadian Common Law offered by Osgoode and U of Toronto. I’ve also heard of the Internationally Trained Lawyers Program. They are frightfully expensive, considering the fact that I don’t have a job waiting for me over in Canada. From your post, the exams aren’t a walk over but are doable. I’d like to start reading before I even get to Canada. Do you have any idea what exams candidates from Nigeria are asked to write? Nigeria is a common law jurisdiction. I noted up there that Abiola (a Nigerian) said he was assessed to take the mandatory five courses and I wonder if it would be the same for every Nigerian trained lawyer. Any ideas?

    I appreciate the fact that you respond to your readers.

    Thank you.

    Congrats on the baby.

    1. Hi Oje –

      Unfortunately, it’s impossible to tell you what exams you may need to take because they really do look at each person’s experience and schooling and make the determination that way. By way of example, I have a friend who received her law degree in Australia (common law) but was assessed to take seven exams. She appealed and got it changed, but that’s a long process as well. I think if you’ve been working in Nigeria and have a solid educational background, you may expect to not have to take more than the five mandatory exams, but the FLSA’s decision-making process is a black box so I can’t tell you one way or another what will actually happen. Sorry! Hopefully the other Nigerian candidates will reach out to you. I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to share their information but good luck with whatever you decide!

  19. Hello, Aina, Abiola and Karimat, I’m Oje from Nigeria. I plan to move to Canada next year and to that end, I’m researching NCA and everything associated with the Canadian Bar.

    Please let’s reach out to each other, I noticed none of you left a contact. Please contact me here, (email deleted since it seems to be marked as spam)

    Ill be glad to hear from you guys so we can encourage each other and share experiences till we attain our goals.


    Valarie, is it possible to exchange mails with my fellow Nigerian candidates? We need to reach out to each other since we are in the same circumstance.

    1. Hello Oje,
      My name is Oyinlade; a nigerian trained lawyer but presently in Ontario. I would love for the Nigerians here to connect. How can we make it happen?

      1. In case we are connecting, I’ll be more than glad to have other people preparing to talk to and if possible, as study partners. My mail is I’m in Ontario too and looking to write Constitution and maybe Admin or Criminal in October. Thank you

  20. Hello Fellow Foreign-Trained Lawyers,

    I was wondering if anyone has any information about the (approximate) number of courses required from lawyers coming from a Civil Law jurisdiction…

    1. Hi Shaw and/or Fellow Foreign Trained Lawyers,

      I was wondering if you got any answers regarding this or if you already went through the experience. I’m applying this year and I come from a Civil Law Judicial System as well and I was wondering how different, if any, would be in this case regarding numbers of exams and/or courses.


  21. Heyy i just completed my law degree in India. Now let’s suppose i pass all of my NAC exams and recieve the certificate of qualification. Now what would be the next step to make me qualified to practice law in canada in a particular province?

    1. Hi Sid –

      You most likely will have to take the bar exam and there may be other requirements. You should be able to look on the law society website for each province to find out what’s required. Good luck!

  22. Hi Valarie,
    My name is Venugopal Gummi and I passed my Law degree from India and now moved to Ottawa, Canada. I am going through the process of evaluation of credentials by NCA. Your blog is very informative and useful. My question is what is the best way to prepare for the NCA exams. Is it too much studying? I will be submitting my transcripts from India next week directly by the University in India. So when do you think I can complete the required NCA courses (assuming they prescribe 5 courses) in a practical manner.
    Thank you so much for the all info here.

    1. Hi Venugopal –

      Apologies for the delay. I don’t know if I can tell you the exact best way to prepare for you, but I can tell you what I did, which is buy the books and use the syllabi provided by the FLSC to create outlines for each subject. I found that doing that helped me prepare as I went along. I was doing this while I was working so, yes, it is a decent bit of work, but it was worth it. You can always choose to take fewer exams at one time to make sure that you’re able to study properly. If you only have 5 exams, I think you can complete everything within a year. It is a long process, no matter what, so I think the best thing to do is focus on the outcome (which is becoming a lawyer in Canada!) and that will help you get through it. You may have a year or so of this headache, but then you’ll hopefully have many years of working years. Good luck!

  23. Hey, Valarie! Thank you for your helpful post.
    I was wondering if working is a possibility alongside preparing for the NCA exams?
    Also, this might be a stupid question, but is any sort funding or financial aid available to help me finance the exams? Or any sort of financial aid available to help me with my living costs? I know a few of these are available for students doing their undergrads there, but since I’ll be done with my undergrad from my own country, I’m not sure if I’ll be eligible for those aids. So any info on this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    1. Hi Nazia –

      It is definitely possible to work while you’re preparing for the NCA exams. That is exactly what I did. I do not know of any funding that is available and I would honestly be surprised if there was. It is unfortunately, a very expensive process. I was fortunate that the firm that I went to reimbursed me for the cost of the exams. I did the exams before I moved to Canada and I was working so my living expenses were taken care of. Sorry I can’t be more helpful! Good luck!

  24. Hi Valarie! So I did my LLB from the University of London External Program at an affiliate center. I graduated with a high 2:1. Afterwards, I did my LLM from the George Washington University with a cumulative GPA of 2.8 (yes, that is very bad I know). I’ve been doing transactional work at a large firm in Pakistan ever since. Will my LLM count towards my accrediation. Furthermore, since I did my LLB from an affiliate center and not purely distance learning, what route do you feel the NCA has in store for me? Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

    1. Hi Shah –

      You will submit all of your transcripts to the FLSC as part of the process, so in a sense, yes your LLM will count. However, I have no way to telling you to what extent that will help you. Also, because the LLM was in the US and not Canada, it’s not likely to help you in terms of the number of exams that you’re assigned, but again, the NCA process is pretty opaque, so I don’t know what they look at or how they make those decisions. I think that your best bet is to contact the NCA to find out more about how your experience will be considered. I have always found them to be very responsive and helpful.

  25. Hi Valerie,

    Firstly congratulations on your baby. Secondly thank you for being so helpful as to share your experiences with others.
    I would like to use this post to find out if anybody is preparing for the NCA exams in Dubai and would like to catch up to go through course materials together? If yes please email me.

    1. Hey Benazir:

      I am doing the NCA exams. It will be good to share thoughts.

      You may get in touch on 0566696824.


      1. Hi Benazir and Faisal,

        I also live in Dubai. I just received my NCA assessment and soon I’ll start preparing for the exams. Since you both posted a while ago, you’re obviously further along than I am. I was wondering – were you able to sit for the exams in Dubai?


      2. Hi there Jennifer. Yes I did sit for all 5 NCAs and passed them last year. I sat for the bar exams this month and solicitors in June 2019.

        You may get in touch at 0566696824 for any further info.

  26. Just a note – I graduated from a U.S. law school, passed the Bar in Utah, and did the NCA process beginning in 2012. At that time, I was required to take 4 exams, which I understand was pretty common.

    1. Hi Brit –

      Thanks for sharing. The NCA now has 5 exams that are mandatory, so it’s no longer the 4, which is what I did as well. Hope you’re enjoying your legal life in Canada!

  27. Hii,

    I am currently doing Law LLB from an UK law school. Any idea how long do I have to consume time for NCA? I can see that it can take up to 2years or so. Do you know anyone who has finished NCA assessment is about one year?

    Gazi Jabin

    1. Hi Gazi – it really depends on how many exams you’re assigned. If it’s just the 5 mandatory ones, then you shouldn’t have a problem finishing within a year, but if you were assigned 10 exams, for example, the cost of the exams and the time needed to study would likely require more time. I hope that helps.


  28. I understand that they are open book exams. Are the books allowed the ones identified on the syllabi? Appreciate the information. And, I was assigned 6 courses not 5. Admin, Constitutional, Business, Criminal, Foundations and Professional Responsibility. I am admitted in 3 different states.

    1. Hi Scott –

      My understanding is that you can have any books/notes/outlines that you need. However, I only had the books that were recommended by the syllabi and I had my own outlines and notes. I don’t know what they would say if you brought in something else, but presumably they wouldn’t be worried about it because it’s just going to slow you down if you’re trying to flip through a bunch of irrelevant material. I hope that helps! Good luck!


  29. Hi Valarie,

    Thanks so much for this great and extremely useful blog! I am required to take 5 NCA exams and was wondering what would be the best way to go about finding local law schools that are considered foreign testing centers. I live near Boston, MA.

    Many thanks!

  30. Hi there,

    Do you have a sample/suggested study schedule to share? I work full-time as a lawyer in NYC, and also have two young kids. I plan to take the 5 mandatory exams in February, though am open to the idea of splitting them up three and two. Any suggestions about you allocated time per subject is greatly appreciated!


    1. Hi Rebecca –

      I was working full time when I studied, but I didn’t have kids, so I think splitting it up 3 and 2 may be your best bet. I was also working at a non-profit at the time, so it was legal work, but very reasonable hours. So, with those caveats, my schedule was something like this: work 8:30 to 5PM, get home, eat, take 10 minutes to organize myself, study from 7 to 10, sleep, start over. On the weekends, I would devote slightly more time to studying, but I started far enough in advance that I made a schedule that didn’t require constant weekend studying because I knew that would just lead to burn out. Some of the subjects have overlap – like constitutional law and basically everything else, but not enough that there’s a definite way to pair them up to reduce the workload.

      I hope that helps!

  31. Hi Valarie,
    Your blog on the “New Lawyers Series” has been of great help for planning my further steps to pursue a legal career in Canada.
    I am a law student from India and about to finish my Bachelors in Law (LLB) from an Indian law school. I’m hoping to pursue LLM from Canada after my bachelors and as I’ve learnt I will have to appear for the NCA examination to be able to practice law in Canada. So my query is whether its possible to apply as well as prepare for the NCA exams in correspondence with pursuing my LLM from a Canadian Law School and what is a more suitable option (1) To appear for the NCA from India itself and later pursue LLM from Canada or (2) To appear for NCA in correspondence with my LLM or (3) Pursue my LLM first and then appear for the NCA exam.
    Many thanks!

  32. Hi Priyanka – I’m glad you’ve found the series helpful!

    It’s difficult to say what order you should do things in. Technically, depending on what school you attend, you may be able to take some of the core classes (Constitutional law, criminal law) that are offered to the J.D./LL.B. students and those could count toward your NCA requirements. However, I wouldn’t recommend doing that unless the classes fit in with what you really want to study. If I were in your position, I think I would do the LL.M. and see if I like living in Canada. While you’re here, I would take every opportunity to network and meet lawyers who are practicing in areas you’re interested in. I would also keep an eye on the articling requirement because the availability of jobs is a real problem sometimes. Then, I would sign up for the NCA process as you’re nearing the end of your LL.M year. You’re going to have to submit a transcript from the LLM program, so you can’t really apply ahead of time if you want them to know you’re pursuing education in Canada.

    I hope that helps!

  33. Hi Valarie,
    Your blogs are very helpful for many of us thank you so much for all your efforts, still just wanted to bother you with some silly confusion.
    I just wanted various information regarding the law practice in Canada as I am a law graduate from India and a registered bar member of India and been currently pursuing my further studies in masters that are Post Graduate in Diploma Law from The United Kingdom which I shall be completing it in next 4 months.
    My concern was, as holding a law degree from India will I be able to practice as a lawyer in or enroll myself in Canada Bar, and what are the criteria and procedure required to enroll an Indian qualified lawyer into Bar of Canada.? As because of my qualification and the work experience my counselor has told me that there are high chances for me to get the PR for Canada so my only concern did a person have to go to NCA and give certain exams or he can directly be qualified in the Bar of Canada.
    Kindly help me with the same.


  34. Hi Valerie – I recieved under 55 in evidence (52) from an Australian JD program. That is my lowest grade and my overall average is 67%. What are the chances that I would be required to sit the evidence exam in addition to the 5?


  35. I really don’t understand NCA’s position on degree obtained through distance learning. A person who is a qualified lawyer should be treated equally as his/her peers. However, NCA would impose additional requirements on those who had obtained their degrees by distance learning despite the fact that it is more difficult to earn distance learning degrees. Furthermore, many students who attended in-class programs never actually attended classes anyways. It is 2018 but NCA’s policy on distance learning is outdated.

  36. Hey,
    I just graduated from O.P. Jindal Global University with a B.A. LL.B. (hons) degree and am planing to immigrate to Canada. However, the NCA process is a little scary and seems like it’s going to take a lot of time and money (like you mentioned). Can you please tell me a little more about the training that one has to go through after passing these exams? And what is the status of Lawyers in Canada? Will I get a job easily or not? I do not mind appearing for all the exams but what is the surity that after clearing everything i will get a good job that helps me survive in Canada?

  37. Hello there,
    I am a current student of an LLB program ( distant learning) and I really want to know when the NCA ask us to do the 2 years in class, do they offer us acceptance at the law schools here in Canada? or do we have to go through the applying process ourselves?

  38. Hi Valerie, thank you very much for the very informative post. I was wondering if the chances of a job for a young Indian lawyer from a top university are good after the bar exam? Is it worth going through the unfortunately tedious process of an LLM, the NCA exams and finally the bar exam? Thanks a bunch again!

  39. Hi Valarie, thanks for your informative sharing. I’m very interested to know if qualification is a major consideration for NCA assessment? I previously studied JD in common law jurisdiction but didn’t proceed with further study & qualification process. I’m now in the process of taking bar exam and targeted to be qualified in a civil law jurisdiction. So far I had working experience in in-house compliance/legal. Not sure if qualification is considered more crucial than relevant working experience to NCA. Appreciate your advice/info in advance. Thank you!

  40. Hello Valerie
    I wrote 2 of 7 examinations back in October, and I had answered the questions accordingly, and had applied the law to the facts and what have you. For both exams I ran a little short on time, and I did not get the opportunity to complete the last question or two which were worth the least points. However, between both exams I wrote 11 and 10 pages respectively. Anyhow, based on your experience, do you think that the work I had done may have been sufficient enough for a passing grade? Please let me know your thoughts as soon as you find the time. Thank you.

    Rocky R.

  41. Dear Valerie

    Thank you for the very informative post. This definitely cleared up a lot of doubts. I am an Indian qualified lawyer with almost 10 years of post qualification experience working in law firms and in-house in US Companies subsidiaries in India. I have very less practice experience and am not keen to practice in the future. I am applying for my PR for Canada in a couple of months. It will be extremely helpful if you can let me know whether the NCA assessment and the bar exam is required for in house practice. I am also looking at contract management and compliance roles in Canada. Do I still need to sit for the bar exam for these positions? Also, for an Indian qualified lawyer, will it be possible to get a job in these roles without a Canadian LLM or Canadian experience? I am right now in two minds whether to do an LLM in Canada for international lawyers (they are really expensive) or do a soft landing next year when I get my PR and understand how the market is for me to get a job in these roles. I will really appreciate any guidance from you on this.

    Many thanks

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