Back to Navigation
LSO COVID-19 Response

FAQs: Licensing & Accreditation

This section will continue to be amended and additional questions or concerns answered, as more information becomes available.

How can I submit documents to the Law Society?
You are strongly encouraged to submit all documents to the Law Society electronically, either through an online form (where available) or by email to licensingprocess@lso.ca, articling@lso.ca, or examinationaccommodation@lso.ca, as appropriate. If you are unable to submit documents electronically, you may send documents to the Law Society by regular mail; however, please note that there are significant delays in receiving and processing mailed documents and such approach is not advisable at this time.

Please note the Law Society’s guidance in respect of electronic signatures and virtual commissioning.

Candidate Supports

  • How can I submit documents to the Law Society?
    You are strongly encouraged to submit all documents to the Law Society electronically, either through an online form (where available) or by email to licensingprocess@lso.ca, articling@lso.ca, or examinationaccommodation@lso.ca, as appropriate. If you are unable to submit documents electronically, you may send documents to the Law Society by regular mail; however, please note that there are significant delays in receiving and processing mailed documents and such approach is not advisable at this time.

    Please note the Law Society’s guidance on this COVID-19 main page in respect of electronic signatures and virtual commissioning.

    Last updated: April 9
  • The COVID-19 situation is negatively affecting my mental health. What can I do?
    The Law Society understands that uncertainty, change, physical health concerns, and other circumstances can all be factors that affect our mental health. The COVID-19 situation may be very unsettling and can negatively impact mental health. Students and candidates are eligible to receive, and are encouraged to seek, assistance from the Member Assistance Program, a confidential service that offers counselling, resources, and information to licensees, law students, paralegal students, and licensing candidates.

    Last updated: March 30
  • Are there any financial supports available to assist me in completing the licensing process?
    The Law Society has a number of programs to assist candidates registered in the licensing process with the payment of their licensing fees. These programs include the Monthly Payment Plan and the Repayable Allowance Program (for lawyer candidates). The Law Society is developing an additional Monthly Payment Plan designed to afford candidates greater flexibility. Additional details for this new Monthly Payment Plan will be sent to candidates through their online account as soon as possible.
     
    Candidates who were employed may be eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Information regarding CERB may be found on the Government of Canada website.

    Last updated: March 31
  • What other factors should be considered in relation to the recruitment processes during the COVID-19 pandemic?
    Under the existing 2021-2022 Articling Recruitment Procedures, all employers in Ontario have the option to interview candidates remotely by telephone, videoconference, or other remote online communication platform. The method(s) by which interviews are conducted are typically within the discretion of the interviewing employer. However, so long as the province of Ontario’s Declaration of Emergency to Continue to Fight Against COVID-19 (“Declaration of Emergency”) is in place, the Law Society strongly encourages all employers to conduct interviews remotely.

    The Law Society also strongly encourages the suspension of other in-person recruitment activities during the Declaration of Emergency. This includes activities such as dinners, receptions, breakfasts, and office tours. The Law Society appreciates that these activities can provide useful information to employers to facilitate their hiring decisions. However, such activities must be discouraged by the Law Society while the Declaration of Emergency remains in effect. The Law Society encourages employers to explore alternative ways to connect with candidates, which can include the use of group-teleconference software.

    Last updated: April 22

Licensing Process

  • When are licensing fees due?
    The Law Society is sensitive to the challenges currently being faced by licensing candidates as a result of the COVID-19 situation and is exploring options to minimize the impact of filing and payment deadlines on candidates. The Law Society has taken steps to ensure that candidates have some flexibility in respect of payment obligations. Set out below are some of the payment obligations on licensing candidates.
     
    • Lawyer Licensing Examination Study Materials: For those candidates who are planning to write a licensing examination in the 2020/2021 licensing year* and would like electronic access to the licensing examination study materials on April 20, 2020, the study materials fee(s) must be paid by April 15, 2020.
    • Licensing Examination Registration (Lawyer and Paralegal Candidates): Candidates are not required to pay the examination registration fee until 30 business days before the date of the licensing examination that they choose to write.
    • Law Practice Program: Candidates are advised that, regardless of the due date set out on their 2020/2021 Law Practice Program invoice, payment is required on or before June 1, 2020.
    • Articling: Candidates are advised that, regardless of the due date set out on their 2020/2021 Articling Program invoice, payment is required no later than 10 business days after the articling placement begins.
    • Monthly Payment Plan: The Law Society is developing options for its paralegal and lawyer Monthly Payment Plans that are designed to afford candidates greater flexibility. Details will be sent to candidates through their online account as soon as possible.
     
    The Law Society will be sending additional information to candidates through their online accounts regarding filing deadlines and payment obligations that have been adjusted in light of the current situation.

    *Different provisions may apply to candidates who had registered for, had paid for, and were scheduled to sit the March 2020 solicitor licensing examination that was cancelled as a result of COVID-19. The Law Society will send information about the options available to candidates who were impacted by the cancellation of the March solicitor licensing examination as soon as possible.

    Last updated: March 30
  • Will the call to the bar ceremonies scheduled to take place in June 2020 move forward as planned?
    As we all respond to the unprecedented impact of COVID-19, the Law Society recognizes the significant challenges that are confronting licensing candidates.

    While this has been a difficult decision, the Law Society has decided to cancel the call to the bar ceremonies scheduled to take place in June 2020.

    An administrative call to the bar process will be made available to candidates who have fulfilled licensing requirements to facilitate licensure in a timely manner.

    An administrative call to the bar is often referred to as a ‘paper call.’ This means that individuals who meet the requirements will be granted their licence to practice in June. This will allow you to proceed with the next phase of your legal career without delay despite the cancellation of the ceremonial call.

    The Law Society recognizes the symbolic importance that the call to the bar ceremonies provide for candidates – they are an important tradition for legal professionals.

    To address this, we are working on plans to hold ceremonies to recognize your achievements and provide an opportunity for you to gather with friends, family and colleagues to mark the beginning of your legal careers.

    Due to the uncertain nature of the COVID-19 incident, it is difficult right now to predict when it will be possible to schedule such an event, and there are significant logistical challenges that we have to contend with. We will provide further information as soon as feasible.

    We thank candidates and participants in the licensing process for their continued patience and understanding as we work through these unprecedented circumstances.

    Last updated: April 17
  • In light of the cancellation of the call to the bar ceremony in June, how will I become licensed to practise law?
    The Law Society is developing an administrative process to facilitate licensure for those candidates who have met all of the licensing requirements to become licensed to practise law in Ontario. The administrative process will not require in-person attendance and will be modelled after an existing process that has been used when necessary. Candidates will receive more information about this process through their online accounts in May 2020.

    Candidates who have completed the licensing requirements and are awaiting licensure may provide legal services (including appearing before Ontario courts and tribunals) if they are under the direct supervision of a licensed lawyer and they file a Supervision Agreement with the Law Society. The Supervision Agreement must be filed before the candidate intends to begin providing legal services pursuant to the Supervision Agreement. Additional information about Supervision Agreements may be found in the Guidelines for Lawyer Licensing Process Candidates Awaiting their Call to the Bar.

    Last updated: April 9
  • Why is the Law Society using an administrative call process to license lawyers?

    The Law Society recognizes the symbolic importance that the call to the bar ceremonies afford candidates eligible for licensure as lawyers in Ontario. The Law Society also recognizes that current public health conditions make it difficult to offer these ceremonies in a safe manner. Accordingly, the Law Society is implementing licensing processes to enable candidates who meet licensure requirements to become eligible to practise law.

    Last updated: June 10

  • When did the administrative call process come into effect?
    Commencing May 1, 2020, all candidates who are eligible to be licensed as lawyers will be admitted to the practice of law using the Law Society’s administrative call process if they submit the required documentation.

    Last updated: June 10
  • When do candidates become eligible for an administrative call?
    Candidates who have successfully met all administrative and program requirements for licensure in Ontario in accordance with By-Law 4 made under the Law Society Act are eligible to be administratively called. In order to become eligible, lawyer candidates must successfully complete the Barrister Licensing Examination and the Solicitor Licensing Examination, fulfill the Experiential Training Component (e.g., articling or the Law Practice Program), file all documents, pay all required fees, and be of good character. Candidates are not eligible for an administrative call until they meet these requirements.

    Last updated: June 10
  • How are candidates informed of their eligibility for an administrative call?

    The Law Society’s Licensing and Accreditation department will contact candidates as they become eligible for an administrative call. Commencing mid-May 2020, as candidates become eligible, they will be notified through their online accounts to commence the administrative call application process. The Law Society notifies eligible candidates by sending them an administrative call application package. Since the Law Society notifies candidates using their online account, candidates are expected to regularly check their online account for administrative call information and updates.

    Last updated: June 10

  • What does the administrative call process entail?
    The administrative call process requires candidates to complete two PDF documents. The documents are: (1) the Petition for Call to the Bar and Certificate of Fitness; and (2) the Affidavit for Taking the Oath for Call. These documents, along with the instructions for completing them, are sent to candidates’ online accounts when they are notified by the Licensing and Accreditation department that they are eligible for an administrative call. The documents are to be completed, commissioned, and returned to the Law Society via email to L1papercall@lso.ca.
     
    In addition to completing these documents, candidates are required to pay a call to the bar fee as part of the administrative call process. This fee has been reduced to $165 as part of the administrative call process.

    Last updated: June 10
  • What happens after I submit my documents and fee?

    Once you submit your documents and fee, your candidate file will be reviewed by the Licensing and Accreditation department to ensure that it is complete and all requirements for licensure are fulfilled. Files that are verified and complete are then added to the next available call list for licensure. Please note that the Law Society is reviewing all files as quickly as possible. Candidates should be aware that errors in completing the documents may result in delays. 

    Last updated: June 10

  • How will I be notified of licensure?

    The Law Society will commence notifying candidates that they have been administratively licensed in mid-June and will continue to administratively call eligible candidates on a weekly basis until the end of the summer or until all eligible candidates are called. Notifications of licensure will occur every Friday throughout the summer commencing June 12, 2020. Candidates are expected to monitor their online account.

    Last updated: June 10

  • Will I still receive the Law Society of Ontario certificate and Court Certificate?

    Yes. While receipt of these certificates is not required to commence the practice of law, they will be mailed to all new licensees.

    Last updated: June 10

  • Has the Law Society reduced the call to the bar fee?
    Yes. The Law Society is aware of the unique challenges facing candidates as a result of COVID-19. In recognition of this, we are reducing the Call to the Bar fee to $165 for all candidates called to the bar after May 1, 2020. The Call to the Bar fee is administered to cover the associated costs of licensing lawyers to practice law in Ontario. The Call to the Bar fee, which is the application fee for lawyer licensing, has consistently been $250. This fee has been applied by the Law Society regardless of whether a candidate is licensed administratively  or with a ceremonial call. However, we recognize these are presently challenging times and we have made the decision to reduce this fee in light of the circumstances.

    Last updated: May 25
  • Will the paralegal reception take place on April 22, 2020, as planned?
    No. The paralegal reception scheduled for April 22, 2020, is cancelled.

    Last updated: March 30

Licensing Examinations

  • How can I access my 2020 barrister and solicitor licensing examination study materials?
    Barrister and solicitor licensing examination study materials for the 2020-21 licensing cycle will be available electronically through each candidate’s online account on April 20, 2020, for candidates who have paid the licensing examination study materials fee(s) by April 15, 2020. Candidates will receive a message in their online account outlining how to access the electronic materials.

    Candidates will also receive instructions on how to order paper copies of the study materials for delivery. The Law Society will cover the cost of shipping the study materials to all candidates who request shipping by following the instructions sent to them through their online accounts.

    Candidates who were scheduled to write the March 2020 solicitor licensing examination will not be required to pay for, or study from, new solicitor licensing examination study materials if they write the licensing examination that will be scheduled to replace the cancelled March 2020 solicitor licensing examination.

    Last updated: April 9
  • In response to the COVID-19 situation, is the Law Society planning to replace its cancelled in-person licensing examinations with online delivery?
    Yes. The March Solicitor exam is already being delivered online. The dates for the summer barrister, solicitor and paralegal examinations and the registration information for these exams are available here.
     
    The schedule for the fall barrister, solicitor and paralegal online examinations will be released later this summer.
     
    The Law Society continues to actively monitor the public health situation and will communicate delivery plans for 2021 examinations later this year.

    Last updated: June 11
  • Has the transition to online delivery impacted the length of the 2020-21 licensing process year examinations?
    Yes. All lawyer and paralegal licensing examinations for the 2020-21 licensing process year have been temporarily reduced from seven hours in length to four hours in length. Barrister, solicitor and paralegal examinations in the 2020-21 licensing year continue to be multiple-choice and open book, but starting with the barrister examination on July 14, the examinations will be four hours long and made up of 160 multiple-choice questions.
     
    The reduction in length was implemented to facilitate the transition to online delivery and was enabled through prioritizing competencies that are most relevant to effective and ethical practice and public protection.
     
    The processes to prioritize the competencies and reduce the length were supported by psychometricians to ensure continued defensibility. All licensing examinations continue to assess entry level competence for the lawyer and paralegal professions and continue to cover the most critical substantive law, procedural law, professional responsibility, and practice management concepts.
     
    Additional information and FAQs about the online delivery model, including technical requirements, can be found on the Licensing Process webpage.

    Last updated: June 11
  • When will the summer Paralegal Licensing Examination be offered?
    Having regard to the public interest and the safety of all candidates, all licensing examinations for the remainder of 2020, including the paralegal licensing examination will be offered online.
     
    The dates for the summer Paralegal Examination and the registration information are available here.
     
    The schedule for the fall paralegal online examination will be released later this summer.
     
    The Law Society continues to actively monitor the public health situation and will communicate delivery plans for 2021 examinations later this year.

    Last updated: June 11
  • How can I access 2020 paralegal licensing examination study materials?
    The 2020 paralegal licensing examination study materials will be available electronically through each candidate’s online account on May 25, 2020, for candidates who have paid the licensing examination study materials fee by May 22, 2020. Candidates will receive a message in their online account outlining how to access the electronic materials.

    Candidates will also receive instructions on how to order paper copies of the study materials for delivery. The Law Society will cover the cost of shipping the study materials to all candidates who request shipping by following the instructions sent to them through their online accounts.

    Last updated: May 5

Experiential Training Programs and Placements

  • The COVID-19 situation is affecting my articling placement/work placement/paralegal field placement. What can be done?
    COVID-19 may impact candidates completing the experiential training component of the licensing process in a number of ways, including the following:
     
    • an altered experience in light of the suspension of certain proceedings in court;
    • an altered experience in light of the virtual cessation of certain types of business;
    • a lack of sufficient work to be performed;
    • a remote work experience; and
    • increased anxiety.
       
    The Law Society understands that the impacts of COVID-19 cannot be estimated and that COVID-19 will affect firms and licensees in a myriad of personal, professional, and financial ways. Principals and supervisors are encouraged to do whatever they are reasonably able to support their candidates to the best of their ability during this challenging time. Employers facing a reduction in billable work may consider having candidates perform general legal research; create client or public resources related to their area of law; draft presentations or legal articles on novel decisions; or create, update, or annotate firm precedents (e.g., retainer letters, contracts, client interview forms, pleadings).

    Those candidates who are working remotely as a result of COVID-19 must maintain interaction with their principal or supervisor to ensure proper supervision of their placement. Interaction with a principal or supervisor may be facilitated by frequent email communications, telephone calls, or video chats. Candidates should contact their principal or supervisor first with any questions they may have.

    Articling principals are encouraged to contact the Law Society at articling@lso.ca should they have any questions about temporary adjustments in their workplace environment that affect their ability to monitor and supervise the work performed by a candidate.

    Law Practice Program candidates should contact Ryerson University and Programme de pratique du droit candidates should contact the University of Ottawa with any questions or concerns that their supervisor is unable to answer.

    Paralegal students should contact the program coordinator at their college with any questions or concerns they may have about changes to their field placement.

    Last updated: March 30
  • My articling principal has expressed concern about continuing my articling placement during COVID-19. What can be done?
    Since the onset of the COVID-19 situation, the Law Society has seen the legal community respond in innovative and creative ways by adapting their practices to balance the interests of all stakeholders, including students and candidates. The Law Society encourages candidates and articling principals to work together to maintain positions wherever possible.

    Where an articling placement ends prematurely, articling candidates and principals should consult the Law Society’s policies, which address notification and filing obligations. Articling candidates who, for any reason, are unable to complete the full term of their placement may apply for an abridgement based on compassionate grounds. Candidates seeking an abridgement on compassionate grounds must submit the required documentation to articling@lso.ca.

    Articling principals and firms are also encouraged to bear in mind the vulnerable position that many articling candidates are in and the impact that the current situation may have on their mental and physical health. The Member Assistance Program is available to articling candidates as well as licensees, and principals should feel comfortable both using the available services and recommending them.

    The Law Society continues to monitor the impact of the Covid-19 situation on the articling program and will update this response if there are changes to policies or procedures.

    Last updated: April 9
  • Has the Professional Conduct and Practice in Ontario (PCPO) course been rescheduled?
    Candidates who were registered for the March/April 2020 session of this course have been notified via their online accounts that they are eligible to complete this course online in May 2020.  
     
    The Law Society continues to adhere to Public Health guidelines regarding physical distancing and will evaluate the delivery format for future PCPO courses. Our website will be updated as information becomes available.
     
    Last updated: May 8
  • I finished my experiential training program and was just about to write my licensing examinations. Can a lawyer supervise my work until I pass the examinations and am called to the bar?
    Candidates registered in the licensing process may provide legal services (including appearing before Ontario courts and tribunals) under the direct supervision of a licensed lawyer if they file a Supervision Agreement with the Law Society. The Supervision Agreement must be filed before the candidate intends to begin providing legal services pursuant to the Supervision Agreement. Additional information about Supervision Agreements may be found in the Guidelines for Lawyer Licensing Process Candidates Awaiting their Call to the Bar.

    Last updated: April 9
  • Are accredited colleges delivering paralegal education?
    The Law Society has been in communication with all colleges that are accredited to provide paralegal education in Ontario. Colleges have sought approval to make adjustments in light of COVID-19 and the Law Society has responded to all such requests as quickly as possible. The adjustments that have been approved by the Law Society for accredited paralegal education programs are temporary mitigation strategies designed to ensure that programming can continue during the current situation.

    Candidates enrolled in an accredited paralegal education program who have inquiries should contact their paralegal education program coordinator. Candidates may also email paralegaleducation@lso.ca with any questions or concerns that their program coordinator is unable to answer.

    Last updated: March 30
  • Are there any changes to the 2021-2022 Articling or Toronto 2021 Summer Recruitment Procedures?
    The Law Society of Ontario understands that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect legal employers and law students in a myriad of ways. The Law Society acknowledges that students are striving to maintain their physical and mental health while balancing the demands of their legal education, increased personal obligations, and their preparations for entering the legal profession. The Law Society also respects that articling recruitment is an important activity for employers and their provision of legal services.

    In consultation with numerous stakeholders including employers, students, and law schools, the Law Society has updated the articling and summer recruitment timelines for all markets and employers. The revised Recruitment Procedures impacts the application deadlines, interview timelines and provides direction on offers of employment and information on the period of time that such offers may remain open. This information will be effective for the regions that are currently subject to Law Society Recruitment Procedures. Please see the 2021-2022 Articling Recruitment Procedures and the 2021 Toronto Summer Recruitment Procedures websites for these updates.

    Last updated: May 26
  • Are there any special considerations to take into account during the recruitment process in light of COVID-19?
    For such period as the COVID-19 pandemic remains a concern, the Law Society strongly encourages all employers to conduct interviews in a manner consistent with guidance from the relevant health authorities. The Law Society notes that remote interviews may assist in providing equitable access to all students and may be of particular assistance to students who may be facing a variety of challenges as result of COVID-19 due to their individual circumstances, including but not limited to health considerations, financial issues and travel limitations. Employers are reminded that the provisions of the Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19 apply to the hiring process.

    Last updated: October 20, 2020
  • What if I already submitted an application under the 2021-2022 Articling Recruitment Procedures?
    Students who have already submitted an application in accordance with the 2021-2022 Articling Recruitment Procedures will not be required to submit a new application. These students will have their application considered in accordance with the updated timelines. When considering whether or not an interview will be granted to a student and the time and date of such interview, the date of the receipt of an application shall not be a factor if the application is received by the new deadline.

    If a student has already submitted an application and wishes to update, amend, or otherwise change their application materials, employers shall afford these students the opportunity to do so. Students may re-submit a complete and updated application package without prejudice, so long as they do so by the new application deadline. To ensure employers are reviewing the most accurate version of an application, students who are submitting an updated application shall make it clear in their cover letter that they are submitting an updated application.

    When considering whether or not an interview will be granted to a student and the time and date of such interview, the fact that a student submitted an updated application shall not be a factor if the application is received by the application deadline.

    Last updated: April 22
  • Have there been any changes to articling terms for 2020-2021 licensing cycle?
    The minimum required length of articling placements will be temporarily reduced from 10 months to 8 months for candidates commencing articling placements in the 2020-2021 licensing cycle.

    Last updated: April 23
  • Will the change to the articling term for candidates entering the 2020-2021 licensing cycle affect their ability to request an articling abridgement?
    Articling candidates who are unable to complete the full term of their placement may apply for an abridgement based on compassionate grounds. Candidates commencing an 8-month articling placement during the 2020-2021 licensing cycle may still apply for an articling abridgement. Candidates seeking an abridgement on compassionate grounds must submit the required documentation to articling@lso.ca.

    Last updated: April 23
Terms or Concepts Explained