Studying law internationally is extremely common. Who wouldn’t love to get their degree while travelling? But the question is – what happens when you return back to Canada? The process of getting accredited to become a lawyer includes writing several standard exams, writing the bar, and articling.
The process of becoming accredited is regulated by the NCA (National Committee on Accreditation). Upon returning to Canada, all international law degree holders must complete a series of competency exams in a variety of subjects. It is important to ensure that your degree is one recognized by the NCA. Students must submit an application to the NCA which would include general and personal information as well as information about their studies (e.g. transcripts). Upon review of files, the NCA will determine which and how many exams the individual will have to take. There are 5 mandatory exams in the following subjects:
Canadian Administrative Law
Canadian Constitutional Law
Canadian Criminal Law
Foundations of Canadian Law
Canadian Professional Responsibility
In addition to the mandatory exams, students may sometimes be required to write additional exams in topics such as Contracts, Tort, etc. The general reason for taking additional exams is when students don’t have a passing or high enough grade in it. Once you’ve completed all requisite exams and passed, the NCA will provide you with a Certificate of Qualification which will allow you to apply for articling as well as apply to write the Canadian Bar Exams.
The NCA exams currently cost $350 CAD per exam (applicable taxes may apply) and there are registration and assessment fees.
The method for exams is similar to that of exams in law school, fact-based and open book. More information on registration, costs, exams, studying, and exam schedules can be found on the NCA website: https://nca.legal/
Canada has 2 bar exams; one is the barrister bar, and one is the solicitor bar. The bar exam is also open book. Individuals must secure an articling position prior to applying to write the bar exam. The cost of the bar exam includes the application fee ($160) and each exam costs $500. Study materials for the exam costs $100.
More information about the Ontario bar exam can be found at: https://lso.ca/becoming-licensed/lawyer-licensing-process/licensing-examinations
Students in Ontario are required to complete an Articling program which requires them working as an intern under the supervision of a lawyer. Students have the option of instead completing the Law Practice Program which is a fusion of education (classes) as well as interning (for a shorter period of time than a full articling program).
If students select the articling program, they are required to complete an 8-month placement. If they select the LPP, they must complete a 4-month training course as well as a 4-month work placement. Two Ontario Universities provide the LPP program (Ryerson University and the University of Ottawa).
More information for Articling and the LPP can be found at: https://lso.ca/becoming-licensed/lawyer-licensing-process/experiential-training
Overall, the procedure for returning to Canada after completing an international common law degree is a lengthy process. There is ample information online via the NCA and the Law Society of Ontario. Information will vary based on the province students wish to return to however procedures are similar regarding accreditation, articling, and the bar.