How Many Years To Become A Lawyer In Canada?
I’m an international student and want to know how much does it cost to become a lawyer in Canada and what are the requirements and qualifications? How many years does it take? Want to also explore if there are law schools in Canada for international students.
Becoming a lawyer in Canada is a lengthy process and can take at least eight years of studying and practical experience. This is a very competitive, challenging industry and requires a lot of time to master to get the best possible chance in this lucrative and exciting career. This article covers the process to become a qualified lawyer in Canada, and what to do if you are an international candidate, such as how to become a lawyer in Canada if you are from the UK.
How to prepare for a career in law.
Even before you think about university, the path to becoming lawyer is best laid out during high school. You will need very good grades to give yourself the best chance to get into a top-rated university. During high school / secondary school, you should also participate in activities which could give you a decent insight into the law profession. Using libraries to research legal careers is one idea and taking part in debate societies could be another one.
The domestic pathway.
To start your legal career, you will need to graduate from a three- or four-year undergraduate course. Which subject doesn’t necessarily matter, but ones which are aligned to law could be business, English, social sciences or even law itself. Good grades at university are essential, as you will need a high grade point average (GPA). The average GPA for successful law school applicants is between 3.7 to 4. At this stage in your education, studying hard will really pay off. One of the best ways to guarantee excellent grades is to choose a subject that you are happy with and passionate about; this way, you will be motivated to put in the necessary extra work.
The next stage is to take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), held four times a year. This is a lengthy (over two hour) multiple choice exam designed to test your reasoning, logic, numerical, reading and analytical skills. Youi can take the LSAT as many times as you like but some universities will look at only the lowest score or an average, so it’s best to check this first with your preferred institution. For law schools, an LSAT score of at least 155 is essential.
After your (hopefully successful) LSAT, you need to start applying to law schools. Here, you really must consider where you wish to practice law (for example, Quebec law is very different to other provinces in Canada, which are more based upon English common law rather than French systems). You will need to spend time preparing an excellent application portfolio, consisting of a resume, recommendation letters, a cover letter, as well as your LSAT and GPA scores.
A standard legal degree (to become a juris doctor, or JD) takes three years of studying. During this time, you will cover lectures, exams, mock trials, as well as interactive case analysis. Once again, studying is essential as this is where your grades and effort will make the difference.
After law schools, you will need to pass the bar association exam, held three times a year. After this, you will need to ‘article’, which is practicing or essentially interning as a lawyer. Depending on the Canadian province, articling can last from a few months to up to a year. After you have done this, you are ready to start applying for jobs.
The international pathway.
Foreign law degree recognition in Canada depends on which country you are qualified from. International students will need to go through an accreditation process overseen by the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA). Seeing as most Canadian law is aligned with common law, those students or professionals already based in a country with similar legal apparatus (such as the UK, South Africa, or Australia) will have a head start.
For example, if you are transferring a UK law degree to Canada, you will need to have this degree assessed by the NCA. Once the assessment is complete, international candidates can align their qualification by successfully completing NCA challenge exams or by completing assigned subjects at a Canadian law school, or a combination of the two. After this process is finished you can sit the bar exanimation and carry on as per the domestic process.
Becoming a lawyer takes many years of hard work, but the rewards speak for themselves. As with many sought-after professions, the key to becoming a good lawyer is preparing and setting out a career plan early on, such as studying hard at high school and picking up extra-credit assignments and activities wherever possible.
Transferring legal education from overseas is straightforward but varies from country to country. The NCA will assess what is needed but even after you have aligned your qualifications, more studying and articling in Canada is needed before you are in a position to start applying for job opportunities as a layer.
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