Foreign Trained Lawyer Series: The Licensing Process, Part I

You’ve successfully completed the NCA process. Congratulations!

Unfortunately, the bureaucracy doesn’t end there. The following post is going to discuss the licensing process in Ontario only. That is the only process with which I’m familiar because it’s the process that I went through. I will note, though, that once you’re called to the bar in one of the provinces, there is a streamlined process for practicing in other provinces, however, I have not explored that and will not do so here.

The Licensing Process

Lawyers in Canada are self-regulated, meaning that it is the lawyers themselves who govern entry into the profession and the rules by which we all practice. In Ontario, the Law Society of Upper Canada (“LSUC”) is the governing body for lawyers. All lawyers who are admitted to practice in Ontario must go through the licensing process, which includes sitting for the bar exam and articling. This is the same for foreign-trained lawyers, although you may not need to article depending on your practice experience in your home country. As a side note, the number of articling positions has steadily decreased over the last few years and the LSUC introduced the Law Practice Program as an alternative to articling. It is still a pilot project and has only been approved for another 2 years. I’m going to break this down over the next couple of posts because this will otherwise be a bit too daunting to read in one go.

The LSUC’s Expectations for New Lawyers

The purpose of the licensing process, according to the LSUC is:

. . . to ensure that candidates have demonstrated they possess the required entry-level competencies, in order to provide legal services effectively and in the public interest.

Seems straight-forward enough, right? Well, sort of. Continue reading “Foreign Trained Lawyer Series: The Licensing Process, Part I”