Career Map for Internationally Trained Lawyers
The National Committee on Accreditation (“NCA”) Process
The Law Society of Ontario’s Lawyer Licensing Process
Provision of Legal Services Prior to Becoming Licensed in Ontario
1. Career Map for Internationally Trained Lawyers
The Ontario Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade publishes a Career Map for internationally trained or educated lawyers who are interested in becoming licensed to practice law in Ontario. The Career Map is published in consultation with the Law Society and contains detailed information about the process and requirements for becoming licensed. Candidates should review this Career Map before applying to the Law Society’s Lawyer Licensing Process.
2. The National Committee on Accreditation (“NCA”) Process
Graduates of international or non-accredited Canadian law schools must apply to the National Committee on Accreditation (“NCA”) to have their legal education credentials evaluated before they can enter the Law Society of Ontario’s Lawyer Licensing Process. Information on the process may be reviewed here.
The NCA is a standing committee of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. It is made up of representatives from the Committee of Canadian Law Deans, members of the practising bar, and members involved with the administration of provincial law societies. The Committee evaluates the legal training and professional experience of persons with foreign or non-common law legal credentials and who seek admission to a Bar in Canada. Once a file is assessed by the NCA, an applicant may be asked to complete one or more exams and/or attend and complete specific law school courses within a prescribed time frame. Upon successful completion of these requirements, the NCA issues a Certificate of Qualification.
The NCA may also refuse a Certificate of Qualification and, with or without a recommendation of advanced standing, require the candidate to graduate from an approved law course. For application forms and further information please visit the National Committee on Accreditation website.
3. The Law Society of Ontario’s Lawyer Licensing Process
All persons who seek to be licensed to practice law as a lawyer in Ontario must apply to be registered in the Law Society of Ontario’s Lawyer Licensing Process. Candidates must submit Part I of their applications to the Law Society online via the Lawyer Licensing Process Home page after which they must submit Part II of their application by mail. Applicants who are completing the NCA process may begin to submit their Lawyer Licensing Process application supporting documents to the Law Society before they have received their NCA Certificate of Qualification; however, such applicants will not become registered into the Lawyer Licensing Process until their Certificate of Qualification has been submitted by the NCA to the Law Society.
The Lawyer Licensing Process requires the successful completion of several mandatory components. Candidates must pass both the Barrister Licensing Examination and the Solicitor Licensing Examination, which are self-study, open book examinations that test candidates’ knowledge of the law and competence in skills required for entry-level practice as a lawyer. Candidates must also complete the Experiential Training requirement of the Licensing Process, which is discussed in more detail below.
The Law Society encourages NCA applicants to review the Lawyer Licensing Process information available online and to contact the Licensing Process staff to discuss their individual circumstances and any applicable deadlines well in advance of applying to the Lawyer Licensing Process. Staff may be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 416-947-3315 or toll-free at 1-800-668-7380 ext. 3315.
Experiential Training Requirement:
Licensing candidates must complete either the Articling Program or the Law Practice Program to satisfy the Experiential Training requirement of the Lawyer Licensing Process. Candidates who have gained prior legal experience as a lawyer in another common law jurisdiction may be eligible for an Exemption from the Experiential Training requirement. Candidates who have had other legal experience may instead be eligible to receive an Abridgment of the Articling Program. Exemptions and Abridgments are considered on a case-by-case basis, based on the candidate’s previous legal experience. The criteria for Exemptions or Abridgments and the application forms can be found here: www.lso.ca/licensingprocess.aspx?id=2147498211
4. Provision of Legal Services Prior to Becoming Licensed in Ontario
Pursuant to the Law Society’s By-Laws, persons who are not licensed to practice law in Ontario may only provide legal services in certain authorized circumstances. The unauthorized practice of law or provision of legal services is prohibited by Ontario law and may result in serious consequences.
Persons who have not yet obtained their NCA Certificate of Qualification and/or registered as a Candidate in the Law Society’s Lawyer Licensing Process are not permitted to provide legal services in Ontario, nor to make appearances on behalf of clients before Ontario courts and tribunals. A candidate who is registered in the Lawyer Licensing Process may only provide legal services in Ontario and make appearances on behalf of clients before Ontario courts and tribunals when that candidate is employed in an articling placement or LPP work placement.
Any such persons who are considering employment in a legal capacity in Ontario prior to entering the Lawyer Licensing Process and commencing employment in an articling placement or LPP work placement should carefully review By-Laws 4 and 7.1 to understand the scope of the tasks and functions they may be assigned and the supervision required, and should ensure that any licensees by whom they are being supervised have done the same.
Candidates who are registered in the Lawyer Licensing Process and are serving under an approved Articles of Clerkship or are currently engaged in their LPP work placement term may make appearances before Ontario courts and tribunals on certain matters. The matters on which such candidates may appear are set out on the Right of Appearance for Lawyer Licensing Process Candidates webpage.
For more information regarding rights of appearance for candidates in the Lawyer Licensing Process, see the Rights of Appearance webpage.