Career Map: Lawyer
Download the Career Map for internationally trained lawyers PDF
This Career Map was updated in collaboration with the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration in December 2011. The information is accurate at time of writing. Requirements may have changed by the time you apply. Please refer to the Law Society of Upper Canada and National Committee on Accreditation websites for the latest information. Please contact The Law Society of Upper Canada before commencing your application process.
Copyright in this Career Map is held jointly by the Queen’s Printer for Ontario and The Law Society of Upper Canada, © 2011. This Career Map may be used or reproduced by any third party for non-commercial, not-for-profit purposes, if no fee, payment or royalty of any kind is charged by the third party for any further use or reproduction of the Career Map by any person. Any proposed commercial or for-profit use or reproduction of this Career Map requires a written licence from the Queen’s Printer for Ontario and The Law Society of Upper Canada.
Access to the Barrister and Solicitor Designation in Ontario
Ontario lawyers hold the title “Barrister and Solicitor.” They are also known in Ontario as general counsel, corporate counsel, Crown attorneys, Crown prosecutors, general counsel, law partners, or legal advisors.
A law passed by the Government of Ontario created The Law Society of Upper Canada, today also known as the Law Society, in 1797. This law put the responsibility for governing the legal profession in the hands of Ontario’s lawyers. Since then, law has been a self-governed profession in Ontario.
A 48-member board of directors runs The Law Society of Upper Canada. The directors are known as benchers. Ontario lawyers elect 40 members of this board of directors, and the Ontario government appoints the remaining 8 members. This board of directors meets monthly, in an official gathering called Convocation, to deal with matters related to the legal profession. Convocation is the statutory body that regulates the legal profession.
The Law Society acts independently from the government, which is not involved and does not intervene with the admission, competence, regulation, licensing and discipline of lawyers. The Law Society holds responsibility for overseeing these activities. In addition, under the Law Society Act, the Law Society sets out all licensing requirements for Ontario lawyers. Everyone who wants to practise law in Ontario must obtain a licence from The Law Society of Upper Canada. Individuals who do not have a licence to practise law from the Law Society cannot represent themselves as Ontario lawyers.
Lawyers can practice law in Ontario in one or both of Canada’s official languages – English and French.
Ontario’s lawyers use their best judgement and understanding of the law to assist their clients. They gather and understand the details related to a case, give their clients information on the law, and provide legal opinions or advice. They have the inter-personal skills and ability to communicate well, with their clients and in courts of law. They keep up to date on the law and legal procedures – as well as the community where they practise – through ongoing training and development to maintain their knowledge and skills. They act for the benefit of their clients, while maintaining client confidentiality and avoiding potential conflicts of interest.
The responsibilities of these well-educated and highly skilled professionals include some or all of the following:
- Advise clients of their legal rights and all matters related to law
- Research legal precedents and gather evidence
- Plead clients’ cases before courts of law, tribunals and boards
- Draw up legal documents such as real estate transactions, wills, divorces and contracts
- Prepare statements of legal opinions
- Negotiate settlements of civil disputes
- Perform administrative and management functions related to the practice of law
- Act as mediator, conciliator or arbitrator;
- Act as executor, trustee or guardian in estate and family law matters.
Who this Career Map is not for
The following professionals in Ontario may provide legal services, but are not licensed to practise law as lawyers in Ontario:
- Paralegals, also known as Legal Service Providers. These licensed professionals can only provide legal services in very specific situations – matters before Small Claims Court, provincial boards and agencies, and Provincial Offences Act matters before the Ontario Court of Justice, such as highway traffic cases. Their education, training and examinations are very different from the education, training and examinations required to become a lawyer. As of May 1, 2007, the Law Society became the regulator of this profession, and paralegals who are licensed to practise in Ontario have to comply with the Paralegal Rules of Conduct and By-Laws approved by Convocation. You can get further information on how to become a licensed paralegal or obtain further information about paralegal regulation at http://www.lsuc.on.ca/licensingprocessparalegal/
- Foreign Legal Consultants are lawyers who earned their license to practise law in another country, and have applied and received permission from the Law Society to practise the law of that country while living in Ontario. They cannot practise the law of Ontario itself until they apply to the Law Society and meet the Society’s requirements to qualify for an Ontario license. Ontario lawyers can employ, partner, associate or affiliate with Foreign Legal Consultants in Ontario, but only if they do so in compliance with Law Society By-Laws, rules and policies. You can get further information on Foreign Legal Consultants at rc.lsuc.on.ca/jsp/membershipServices/
- Legal department directors, legal firm managers. These are administrators, rather than practising lawyers.
- Notary publics witness signatures on legal documents and certify that photocopies of original documents are true and accurate copies of the original documents. They also sign other documents, such as Permanent Resident Cards, Passport Applications and court statements, certifying that the written facts are true.
Requirements for practicing as a lawyer in Ontario
Step 1 — Demonstrate that you have attained the educational equivalent of Ontario’s undergraduate Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) or a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree.
There are two ways you can do this:
- Receive a Certificate of Qualification from the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA).. The NCA is a standing committee of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada consisting of members involved with the administration of provincial and territorial law societies, members of the practising bar, and representatives of the Council of Canadian Law Deans. The mandate of the NCA is to assess the qualifications of individuals with legal education and professional experience obtained outside of Canada, (or in a civil law program in Québec), who wish to be admitted to a common law bar in Canada.
The assessment is based on the academic and professional profile of each individual applicant. The NCA applies a uniform standard on a national basis so that applicants with common law qualifications obtained outside of Canada can apply regardless of where they wish to practise in Canada. As a result, applicants do not need to satisfy different entrance standards to practise law in different provinces and territories of Canada.
After reviewing an application, the NCA issues a letter to the applicant listing the subjects and/or legal education that is required to ensure that the applicant’s legal education and training is comparable to that provided by an approved law school in Canada. Once the applicant has successfully completed the NCA’s requirements, the NCA issues a Certificate of Qualification. Most law societies in Canada accept the NCA’s Certificate of Qualification for the purpose of entry to their bar admission or licensing process.
The Certificate of Qualification is not the same as a Canadian law degree. Applicants who wish to obtain a Canadian law degree should apply to a Canadian law school.
For more information about an NCA assessment, please visit:
- Graduate from an approved common law program. The Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) or a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree program is normally at least three years long. The following Ontario university faculties offer a Convocation-approved common law program:
- Osgoode Hall Law School, York University in Toronto
- Queen’s University Faculty of Law in Kingston
- University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law – Common Law Section in Ottawa
- University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law – Common Law Section, French Program in Ottawa
- University of Toronto, Faculty of Law in Toronto
- University of Windsor Faculty of Law in Windsor
- University of Western Ontario Faculty of Law in London
The following university faculties in other provinces of Canada offer a Convocation-approved common law program that is recognized in Ontario:
- Dalhousie Law School in Halifax, Nova Scotia
- McGill University Faculty of Law in Montreal, P.Q.
- University of Alberta Faculty of Law in Edmonton, Alberta
- Université de Moncton, Faculté de droit in Moncton, New Brunswick
- University of British Columbia Faculty of Law in Vancouver, British Columbia
- University of Calgary Faculty of Law in Calgary, Alberta
- University of Manitoba Faculty of Law in Winnipeg, Manitoba
- University of Saskatchewan College of Law in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
- University of New Brunswick Faculty of Law in St John, New Brunswick
- University of Victoria Faculty of Law in Victoria, British Columbia
- Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia
Step 2 — Successfully Complete the Licensing Process To Become A Lawyer
Ontario’s Licensing Process to become a lawyer (formerly known as its Bar Admission Course) has three mandatory components. You must successfully complete them all.
- Barrister Licensing Examination
Solicitor Licensing Examination
These two self-study, open-book examinations test your knowledge of the law and your competence in skills you will need as a lawyer – skills that have the most direct impact on the protection of the public and that influence an effective and ethical practice.
- Articling Term
Articling is similar to apprenticeship in a skilled trade. You must work for a lawyer – in a law firm, a government legal department or a legal department in the private sector – for 10 months, including up to two weeks of vacation. You will be paid for your work in most cases, though compensation for articling experience is occasionally negotiated. You may be eligible for an exemption from the articling requirement. A detailed description of the Articling Term is on pages 12-13 of this Career Map.
Articling candidates are required to complete the online Professional Responsibility and Practice course and assessment. This course will provide you with training on competencies related to professional responsibility, ethical issues, and practice management. You will immediately be able to apply the learning you receive in the course to your daily law practice activities and seek guidance and mentoring from your supervising lawyer (Articling Principal). If a candidate is granted an exemption from the Articling Program, the candidate must take the Professional Conduct and Practice in Ontario course. Attendance for the 3-day interactive course is mandatory. It will provide training and discussion on Rules of Professional Conduct, By-laws, ethical issues and conducting a law practice in Ontario.
The focus of the PCPO is on The Law Society of Upper Canada’s Rules of Professional Conduct and includes a review of selected by-laws on client identity, financial management, trust accounting and practice management as applied to the practice of law in Ontario.
Topics covered in the course include civility and professionalism, fiduciary duties to clients, duties to the administration of justice, ethical advocacy, client service and communication, and practice management.
Step 3 — Call to the Bar
The Call to the Bar is where you receive the Law Society’s Certificate with the designation “Degree of Barrister-at-Law” and the Courts Certificate that designates you as a Solicitor. Acquiring these documents entitles you to practise law in Ontario. You can choose to receive the Certificates in either English or French – though you must make a written request to the Office of the Registrar if you wish to order them in both languages. The calls to the bar are held yearly during June, September and January. Attendance is mandatory if you wish to be licensed.
Certification process to practise as a lawyer in Ontario
Before You Immigrate To Canada
Ontario’s Licensing Process to become a lawyer emphasizes practical skills and procedures, rather than substantive law. You must therefore be sufficiently knowledgeable in Canadian substantive law and procedure to show you are competent in at least the following subjects:
- Foundations of Canadian Law
- Canadian Criminal Law and Procedure
- Principles of Canadian Administrative Law
- Canadian Constitutional Law (with Aboriginal component)
- Corporate Law
- Professional Responsibility
Language Proficiency Requirement
If you are literate in English, you will need to take, and show proof that you received a passing grade on, the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) administered by the Educational Testing Service, the Michigan English Language Assessment Battery, or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). If you are not fluent in reading, writing and understanding English, you should take upgrade courses at secondary or post-secondary educational institutions in your country before taking one of these tests.
You can get further information on these language proficiency tests from the contact information at the end of this Career Map.
Applying to the National Committee on Accreditation
If you think you are eligible to enter the Licensing Process to become a lawyer by way of a Certificate of Qualification issued by the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA), you can apply to the NCA from your home country. You do not need to be a Canadian citizen or permanent Canadian resident to enter the Licensing Process or be called to the bar and become a lawyer in Ontario. You will need to send the following documents to:
The National Committee on Accreditation
c/o the Federation of Law Societies of Canada
1810 – 45 O’Connor Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 1A4
- Transcripts of your postsecondary education. You will need to ask the postsecondary legal institution where you attained your legal education to send, under its seal, the final original transcripts of your law grades (or a certificate of standing) directly to the NCA. The NCA will only evaluate your education if you have completed and achieved your degree(s). Photocopies or certified copies of transcripts are not acceptable.
- If you have been licensed by the bar of another jurisdiction, you must provide proof of this. You will need to ask the legal institution or regulator, where you were licensed by the other bar, to submit a certificate of call or admission and a letter or certificate of good standing directly to the NCA. If you were admitted to the bar based on written examinations over and above examinations for a law degree, the legal institution or regulator where you were licensed must submit a transcript of your marks directly to the NCA.
- A filled-in National Committee on Accreditation Application form:
Application for assessment of legal credentials
(http://www.flsc.ca/en/foreignLawyers/applicationForm.asp) Please download the application form and instructions from the Federation website and complete the form as described in the instructions.
You will need to type or word process your answers in English or French. You must answer all portions. If a question is not applicable, write N/A.
- Supporting materials. Along with the filled-in application form, you must provide:
- Original transcripts of your pre-law grades, if any. You can provide a certificate of standing if a transcript is not available.
- A current curriculum vitae (c.v.) or résumé describing your work experience and professional development activities.
- Fees. The fee for assessment is $450 (including all applicable taxes). The fee may be paid by credit card, or certified cheque (Canadian accounts only) or money order to the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. Personal cheques will not be accepted. This fee, as well as all other fees, is subject to change.
Note: If you want the NCA to return any original documentation, you must submit a separate photocopied set of the materials. If you do not, the NCA will not return the original documents to you.
The NCA processes applications throughout the year in the order its office receives them. You will receive confirmation that the NCA has received your materials by e-mail (or mail if e-mail is unavailable). Once all documentation required to assess your qualifications have been received, you will receive your assessment result within three months.
How the National Committee on Accreditation makes its evaluation decision
The NCA will evaluate your application on an individual basis. It will base its recommendations on and take into account:
- Your legal background – academic and professional
- How long ago you earned your degree
- The country where you got your legal education
- The type of legal system in the country where you practised, such as common law, non-common law or hybrid
- The subjects you studied
- The content of the courses you studied
- Your academic marks and standing in all years of the law program
- The nature of the degree-granting institution you went to
- The quality of undergraduate education or training you received
- The professional qualifications you earned
- Any relevant graduate legal education
- The length and nature of your professional legal experience
- Your law teaching experience
What the National Committee on Accreditation will recommend
- The NCA will make one of four recommendations: You are eligible to receive a Certificate of Qualification and are therefore eligible to apply to Ontario’s Licensing Process to become a lawyer. Most Canadian common-law law societies either require or accept the NCA’s Certificate of Qualification.
- You must demonstrate competency in specific subjects before you are awarded a Certificate of Qualification and therefore are eligible to apply for Ontario’s Licensing Process to become a lawyer. Once your qualifications have been assessed and you have received your assessment result letters outlining your prescribed subjects, there are two ways you can demonstrate competency in these subjects:
- Write and pass the NCA challenge examinations. The NCA provides three-hour open-book (open statutes) examinations on each subject, marked on a pass/fail basis. Four examination sessions are offered each year with all NCA subjects offered each January and August; additional sessions for the four mandatory Canadian subjects is also held in May and October. You will find out whether you have passed or failed within approximately 10-12 weeks following the examination session. If you fail an examination, the marking professor will provide you with a detailed memorandum. You are allowed to rewrite exams you have failed, but only once. If you fail an NCA challenge examination twice, you will have to take that course at a Canadian law school. Information about the NCA challenge examinations, including the syllabi for the subjects and examination registration forms, are available at www.flsc.ca/en/foreignLawyers/ncaExaminations.asp.
- Seek permission to register as a special student in a Canadian law program and complete the assigned subjects as part of its program of studies. Some faculties may, before admitting you, require you to write the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Once you achieve an unconditional pass in each subject, you will need to arrange for an official transcript, under seal, to be sent directly to the NCA from the University. If you fail any examination(s), you may be eligible to apply for independent and third party evaluation of your failed paper(s), as part of the school’s regulations. Do not assume you will be able to rewrite any examinations you fail. This will depend on the rules of the law school you are attending.
- You must take a stipulated number of courses or years at a Canadian common law school or take a specified program of studies at one of the Canadian law schools recognized by the Convocation, before you are eligible to apply for Ontario’s Licensing Process to become a lawyer. You will need to obtain an unconditional pass for every credit hour of your program of studies and satisfy the law school’s overall Grade Point Average (GPA) requirements.
The exact number of courses or years you will need to take depends on your individual background of legal education and professional experience. Your NCA assessment result letter will describe the courses you are required to complete.
- You must apply to and pass a Canadian common law program before you are eligible to apply for Ontario’s Licensing Process to become a lawyer.
Getting into a Canadian law school
NCA applicants can seek admission into a Canadian law school to attain their law degree either as regular full-time students or, where the law school’s regulations permit, as special students on a fee-for-course basis.
Applicants applying for admission to Ontario law schools must do so through the Ontario Law School Application Service (OLSAS) a division of the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC). Contact information for the Centre is at the end of this document.
Please note that the NCA’s recommendation will not automatically get you into any Canadian law school. You are responsible for applying to Canadian law faculties, and satisfying their academic requirements, admissions procedures and regulations. Admission into Canadian law schools is extremely competitive for Canadians as well as for qualified people from outside the country. Once you are qualified, it is wise to apply to several law schools across the country.
Deadlines for admission are:
- November 1 for admission to first-year studies that start in September of the following year; or
- May 1 for admission to the second or third year of the LLB program if there is space (assuming you have a Letter of Permission from your home institution to complete some or all of your legal studies at this Ontario institution, or are an NCA applicant with advanced standing who is entering the program to complete your requirements).
If you want to appeal your NCA assessment
The NCA will keep your file for a maximum of five years after the initial date it makes its recommendation. After that, you will have to file a new application, resubmit all documentation for further evaluations and comply with any new rules and policies that are in place at that time.
Within that five-year period, if you have obtained additional qualifications such as an LL.M. or a call to the bar, you may request a reassessment of your file. If you disagree with your assessment, you may file an appeal. The NCA will form an Appeal Panel to review the original assessment. A request for appeal should set out the basis of the appeal. The Appeal Panel assesses the file based on information contained in the file, including the original assessment, and the applicant’s written evidence. The Appeal Panel issues a recommendation that it considers appropriate in the circumstances and that is binding. The Appeal Panel can increase or decrease the requirements of the initial assessment.
The fee for an appeal is $325 (all taxes included). All fees are payable to the Federation of Law Societies of Canada and may be paid by credit card or by certified cheque, bank draft or money order.
The NCA Appeal Panel generally meets four times a year, as required. The deadlines to request an appeal, and to submit all supporting material, are:
- October 30 for the December meeting
- January 30 for the March meeting
- April 30 for the June meeting
- July 30 for the September meeting
Once You Arrive in Canada
Ontario’s Licensing Process To Become A Lawyer
No matter how much experience you may have in the legal profession in your home country, you must complete Ontario’s Licensing Process to become a lawyer. At every step of this process, you must pay all required fees.
Step 1 — Apply
Once you have received your NCA Certificate of Qualification, you are eligible to begin Ontario’s Licensing Process to become a lawyer. You can apply online at http://rc.lsuc.on.ca/jsp/licensingprocesslawyer/index.jsp?language=en.
Step 2 — Licensing Examinations
You must write two examinations – the Barrister Licensing Examination and the Solicitor Licensing Examination. They are available in English and French.
The Barrister Licensing Examination assesses competence in ethical and professional responsibility, knowledge of the law (public law, criminal procedure, family law and civil litigation) and establishing and maintaining the barrister-client relationship.
The Solicitor Licensing Examination assesses competence in ethical and professional responsibility, knowledge of the law (real estate, business law, wills, trusts and estate administration and planning) and establishing and maintaining the solicitor-client relationship.
You have seven hours to write each of these examinations. You do not have to take formal classes to prepare for them. You can study on your own. The Law Society will provide you with the reference materials – in English or French – that you will need. You will be allowed to mark these reference materials and take them with you into the examination testing area. Once you have completed the examination, you will have to leave behind all materials you brought with you into the examination testing area.
The Law Society’s Support Services in the Office of the Registrar offers assistance to persons who may need special accommodations because they have a disability, impairment or other reason covered in the Ontario Human Rights Code. This assistance may include offering examinations in audiotape, Braille and text-to-speech, or providing special equipment for persons with visual and auditory impairments.
You can write the licensing examinations in June, November or March – in English or in French. These examinations are always written in Toronto and Ottawa. They can be written in London or Windsor only in June.
Step 3 – Articling Term
If you are registered with the NCA, you can begin to search for an articling position while completing your Certificate of Qualification requirements. It is important that you begin your search for an articling position as soon as possible, as the competition for these positions is very high.
To be eligible to begin the Articling Program, you must have:
- You have completed the Licensing Process Application; and
- Completed your LL.B, J.D. or NCA requirements and have the institution submit the required transcript or certificate to the Office of the Registrar at the Law Society.
While articling, you will be referred to as a student-at-law. Students-at-law must article for a term of 10 months with an approved Articling Principal (a lawyer at a law firm or legal environment) who has filed an Application to Serve as an Articling Principal with the Law Society. If you start articling without an approved Principal, you will not receive articling credit for any work you complete.
You are responsible for finding your own Articling Principal and placement. The Articling Registry has available articling positions and candidates seeking a placement may post a personal profile on the Registry describing their interests and previous legal experience. The Articling Placement Mentor Program can match you with a mentor who will provide encouragement and advice during your search. The Articling Registry is located at: https://articlingregistry.lsuc.on.ca/ArticleRegistry/article/Login.action.
The Articling Office does provide some support and assistance:
- Job search workshops that teach job search skills and review your resume and cover letters. You can review material from previous workshops to learn how to conduct electronic job searches, win interviews, create a compelling resume and cover letters, and build useful contact lists and network.
- Job skills workshop videos that cover networking and self-marketing skills, writing resumes and cover letters, and interview skills. Each video is approximately 30 minutes long.
- Advice and testimonials from past candidates can provide valuable job search tips, suggestions and insight. These past candidates can include a mature student-at-law, an NCA candidate and/or others.
- Placement reports that provide a summary of articling placement statistics for candidates enrolled in previous years. These provide an overview of the programs and placement initiatives that assisted past candidates in their articling job search, as well as employment rates of candidates after they were called to the bar.
While candidates traditionally article for 10 consecutive months for a single lawyer or law firm in the Province of Ontario, there are exceptions:
- If you have practised as a lawyer in a common law jurisdiction, you can apply for an exemption OR an abridgment of the articling term. Applications for abridgments of an articling term are only considered on a case-by-case basis, and based on previous legal experience. The criteria for an abridgment and the application form can be found at http://rc.lsuc.on.ca/jsp/licensingprocesslawyer/articlingAbridgment.jsp.
- Internationally-trained candidates who apply for and obtain an exemption from the articling term are required to attend a three-day course on Professional Conduct and Practice in Ontario, which will be held at The Law Society of Upper Canada in Toronto.
- You may be eligible to seek permission from the Law Society for approval to enter into non-traditional articles:
- Joint articles, where you do 10-month articling term with two or more Principals. You can work for both Principals concurrently, or for one followed by the other.
- National articles, where you article in a Canadian province other than Ontario, or international articles, where you article outside Canada.
Applications for non-traditional articles are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The length, scope and diversity of the proposed legal experience will be reviewed and the relevance of the proposed legal experience will be assessed.
Step 4 — Call to the Bar
To become eligible for call to the Bar, you must:
- Successfully complete Steps 1 through 3 above
- Pay all Law Society fees, including the Call to the Bar fee of $250.00 Canadian (plus applicable taxes)
- Be of good character, as required by section 27(2) of the Law Society Act. Candidates’ answers to the questions set out in the Good Character Section of the Licensing Process Application must be current, complete and correct right up until before the day they are called, and
- Have submitted all call to the bar documents required by the Office of the Registrar. These include:
- Certified proof of your legal name (Canadian issued documents)
- An official law school transcript that confirms the granting of the LL.B. or J.D. degree or the NCA’s Certificate of Qualification issued by the NCA to the Office of the Registrar (issued directly by the University or the NCA to the Office of the Registrar)
- Two recent passport photos
- A printed copy of the Licensing Process Application duly signed and commissioned; and
- The following documents must be filed with the Office of the Registrar for you to obtain credit for articles and be called to the bar: The Articles of Clerkship, due within 10 days of starting your articling term; The Certificate of Service, to be completed by you and your Principal when your Articling Program is finished.
Please be sure to review the Articling Filing Requirements Memo before and during your articling term at: http://rc.lsuc.on.ca/pdf/licensingprocesslawyer/articling/ar21memFilingReq.pdf.
Equity and diversity in Ontario’s law profession
The Law Society of Upper Canada is committed to promoting equity and diversity in the legal profession and to help stop discrimination and harassment. Through its activities, and through its Equity Initiatives Department, it seeks to ensure that both law and the practice of law are reflective of all the peoples of Ontario, including Aboriginal people, Francophone people and equity-seeking communities. The Law Society’s Equity Initiatives Department is not, however, involved with the evaluation of foreign legal credentials.
Equity and Diversity Activities
The Law Society’s Equity Initiatives Department plays a leadership role in coordinating a number of activities that help identify equity needs. It ensures that the Law Society:
- actively works with Aboriginal, Francophone and equity-seeking communities through consultations, meetings and public education activities;
- works to enable positive changes within the profession through its programs and services and model policies, reports, and publications; and
- provides resources for members of the public and the profession.
In addition, the Law Society provides a range of services and programs to lawyers, internationally trained lawyers and students, law firms and articling candidates and Principals, and works closely with community groups and schools to encourage law as a career. Its services and programs include:
- Support services, which provides supports and services that improve the learning environment for all candidates and offers assistance for those who are unable to comply with the conditions or requirements of the Licensing Process because they have a disability or because of other reasons covered in the Ontario Human Rights Code. These include examinations in audiotape, Braille and text-to-speech, and special equipment for persons with visual and auditory impairments.
- An Equity Public Education Series that promotes, in partnership with legal associations and community groups, education and discussion among members of the public and the profession on the challenges and opportunities for Francophone, Aboriginal and equity-seeking communities in the legal profession. This initiative also provides networking opportunities for students and recently-called lawyers.
- A Discrimination and Harassment Counsel that confidentially assists anyone who may have experienced discrimination or harassment by a lawyer or within a law firm. This service is free of charge to the Ontario public and lawyers.
Equity and Diversity Mentoring Program
This Program matches candidates in the Licensing Process and those recently called to the Bar with experienced members of the legal profession. Lawyers provide candidates and recently called lawyers with advice and support. Candidates and lawyers can gain insight into the practice of law by spending time in a lawyer’s workplace, observing courtroom work, and by attending Law Society public education programs.
Labour Market Information
The face of the legal profession continues to change. Increasingly, new members are women, persons of colour, Aboriginal persons, and Francophones.
According to Ontario Job Futures, there were 29,400 lawyers in Ontario in 2004 – a number that has risen to more than 38,000 in 2007. Their annual income is $119,937 – well above the provincial average for all occupations of $47,299 (in 2000). However, employment growth for this occupation is only about as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2010. Although job growth will create new positions, most new jobs are only expected to become available when current workers retire. More significantly, the high cost of legal services may persuade some to use less expensive services, where a lawyer is not mandatory. These less expensive services include dispute resolution, electronic filings and computerized legal databases.
Demand for lawyers is linked to population growth and the volume of business activity, and can therefore be cyclical. Demand for legal services involving real estate transactions, mergers and acquisitions, for instance, tends to decline during a recession, while those involving bankruptcy activities increases. One growing area of demand in today’s complicated business environment is corporate regulatory compliance – helping companies keep up with government and other regulatory rules.
For more information on labour market conditions for this profession, consult the Ontario government’s Ontario Job Futures website, at www.ontariojobfutures.ca/profile4112.html. The Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) website at www.labourmarketinformation.ca also provides valuable insights. This information is also available at public libraries or HRSDC Employment Resource Centres in your community.
The federal, provincial and municipal governments employ lawyers. So do prosecutor’s offices, educational institutions and private businesses, particularly businesses providing scientific or technical services. In addition, lawyers can join partnerships or law firms, or open their own private practices.
Fees and Costs(in Canadian dollars)
The following fee schedule was accurate at time of writing, but is subject to change. Unless otherwise indicated, you will need to add Canada’s applicable taxes to these fees.
Before you come to Ontario
Costs of sending transcripts of your postsecondary education and proof you have been called to the bar are your responsibility. Purchasing textbooks for the challenge examinations are also your responsibility.
|National Committee on Accreditation|
|Evaluation fee to National Committee on Accreditation (not refundable)
(all taxes included)
|NCA examinations Fee per examination
(all taxes included)
|Both payable by credit card or certified cheque or money order.|
|Law School Application Fees|
|Application for Admission (not refundable)||$160.00|
|Late Filing Fee||$75.00|
|Per examination (if the NCA requires you to write examinations)||$500.00|
|Applying to law school:|
|Average annual tuition for Canadian law school
(Does not include room, board or books)
The Law Society of Upper Canada
Lawyer Licensing Process – 2010 Fees Schedule
HST will be applied to all fees where applicable.
|Application Fees - Transfer Member
|Late Application Submission Fee
|Licensing Process Fee
(Includes first write of the Barrister and Solicitor Licensing Examinations, examination materials in hard copy, candidate I.D. card, and access to and administrative support services for the Articling Program including the online Professional Responsibility and Practice Course.)
|Licensing Examination Fees|
|Barrister Licensing Examination
(Includes bound copies of the examination materials)
|Solicitor Licensing Examination
(Includes bound copies of the examination materials)
|Rewrite of Barrister Licensing Examination
(Includes examination materials on CD-ROM)
|Rewrite of Solicitor Licensing Examination
(Includes examination materials on CD-ROM)
|Administrative Fees for the Monthly Payment Plan|
|Articling Program Fees|
|Application for Exemption of Articles||$160.00|
|Application for Abridgment of Articling||$160.00|
|Application for National and International Articles||$160.00|
|Licensing Process Course Fees|
|Articling Program (Access to and administrative support services for the online course)||$900.00|
|Professional Conduct and Practice in Ontario (Candidates exempted from articles only)||$500.00|
|Call to the Bar||$250.00|
|Additional bound copy of Licensing Examination materials (per Examination)||$150.00|
|Late filing of any document submitted after the deadline (Transcript, NCA Certificate, Articling forms)||$100.00|
|Second Copy or replacement of a Call to the Bar certificate||$75.00|
|Official copy of Licensing Process transcript provided directly to a third party||$25.00|
|Unofficial copy of Licensing Process candidate transcript||$15.00|
|Replacement of a Licensing Process candidate photo ID card||$15.00|
|Replacement Tax Receipt||$10.00|
All fees are subject to change.
For English language proficiency testing contact:
Test of English as a Foreign Language
Educational Testing Service
P.O. Box 6151
Princeton, New Jersey (08541-6151), U.S.A.
Michigan English Language Assessment Battery
English Language Institute
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan (48104) U.S.A.
International English Language Testing System
University of Cambridge
Local Examination Syndicate
1 Hells Road, Cambridge CBI 2EU U.K.
For More Information
For more information on registration requirements in Ontario, contact:
The Law Society of Upper Canada
130 Queen Street West
Toronto, Ontario M5H 2N6
Telephone: (416) 947-3300
Fax: (416) 947-9070
For more information on the legal profession in Canada and the National Committee on Accreditation, contact:
National Committee on Accreditation c/o
Federation of Law Societies of Canada
1810 – 45 O’Connor Street
Ottawa, ON K1P 1A4
Tel: (613) 236-7250 ext. 229
Fax: (613) 236-7233
For further information on applying to an Ontario law school, contact:
Ontario Law School Application Service (OLSAS)
Ontario Universities’ Application Centre
170 Research Lane
Guelph, Ontario N1G 5E2
Telephone (519) 823-1940
Fax (519) 823-5232
For other useful information:
- Detailed information on the Licensing Process to become a lawyer: rc.lsuc.on.ca/pdf/licensingprocess/
- Detailed information on Evaluation Guidelines for Foreign-Qualified Lawyers: www.flsc.ca/en/foreignLawyers/guidelines.asp
- More information about the Law Society’s Equity Initiatives Department: Resource Centre, at (416) 947-3315 or 1-800-668-7380 ext. 3315. Or send questions by filling in and sending the form at rc.lsuc.on.ca/jsp/home/.
For information on where and how to get help with settlement in Ontario visit www.settlement.org or contact:
Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)
110 Eglinton Avenue West, Suite 200
Toronto, Ontario M4R 1A3
Telephone: (416) 322-4950
Fax: (416) 322-8084
For a government contact on accessing professions and trades in Ontario:
Government of Ontario
Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration
Global Experience Ontario
Tel: 416-327-9694 or 1-866-670-4094
Telecommunication Device for the Deaf: 416-327-9710 or 1-866–388-2262
Copyright in this Career Map is held jointly by the Queen’s Printer for Ontario and The Law Society of Upper Canada, © 2011