How to Become a Lawyer in Canada

August 10, 2023


  • Wesley Allan

Becoming a lawyer is an excellent choice for those looking for a rewarding career, but becoming a lawyer in Canada could take you to the next step of your law career.

Lawyers in Canada are some of the highest-paid professionals in the country, meaning there is a vast potential to make a good living there.

Canada also offers lawyers an excellent quality of life. The country has a robust social safety net that ensures that citizens have access to various services and resources. This includes health care and education, which can benefit those starting their legal careers.

Another advantage of becoming a lawyer in Canada is the opportunity to impact society positively. The Canadian legal system is famously left-wing and prides itself on fighting for the people's and culture's rights. As a result, becoming a lawyer in Canada gives you the power to shape the law and fight for justice. This can be incredibly rewarding and motivating.

Finally, Canada is a great place to work as a lawyer. The country has a robust legal system, and the working environment is generally very supportive. There is also excellent job security, as the demand for lawyers in Canada is always high.

Canada has a gap in the labor market for lawyers, and the salaries are something to marvel at. So, if becoming a lawyer in Canada is your dream, find out how to make that dream come true below. After all, fortune favors the brave!

How To Become a Lawyer in Canada

You can break the process of how to become a lawyer in Canada into two pathways. The first is if you have already practiced as a lawyer in your home country and are looking for the next step for your legal career in Canada. The second is if you are not qualified as a lawyer and want to study to become one in Canada.

How To Immigrate To Canada as a Lawyer

If you are a qualified lawyer from another country, you can take your career to the next level by immigrating to Canada.

Step 1: Get an NCA Certificate

To be eligible to immigrate to Canada as a lawyer, you must first obtain a Certificate of Qualification from the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA). The NCA will assess your qualifications and experience to determine whether you are eligible for immigration to Canada as a lawyer.

To obtain a Certificate of Qualification from the NCA, you must submit your educational transcripts, work experience, and references to the NCA website. In addition, if you practice law in a foreign country, you must include an official letter or certificate of good standing from the bar association or bar council.

The NCA will then assess your qualifications and experience to determine whether you are eligible for immigration to Canada as a lawyer. It is important to remember that the NCA's assessment process is very rigorous, and only those who meet their strict criteria will be approved. Therefore, you must ensure all documentation is complete and accurate, as any mistakes or omissions can delay the process.

It is also important to remember that due to the strict assessment, getting your Certificate of Qualification takes, on average, two years from the time you apply for your evaluation.

Step 2: Take the Bar Exam

Once you have obtained your Certificate of Qualification from the NCA, you must take the bar exam to become licensed to practice law in Canada. It is important to remember that the bar exam is challenging.

Therefore, studying hard and preparing thoroughly to pass the exam is essential. In addition, it is important to remember that the exam is only valid in the province where you took it, so it is vital to take the exam in the area where you wish to practice law. You can find where to practice the Canadian bar exam on the NCA website. 

Step 3: Join a Law Society

Once you have obtained your Certificate of Qualification from the NCA and passed the bar exam, you must become a law society member in the province you wish to practice. This is a requirement for any lawyer in Canada. Law societies provide essential services and resources to their members and regulate law practice in the country.

To become a member of a law society in Canada, you must provide documentation such as your educational transcripts, work experience, and references when you apply. Once your application has been approved, you can practice law in Canada legally.

The Canadian Law Societies are as follows:

You must provide your educational transcripts, work experience, and references for approval. Certain Law Societies may require you to complete articles before you are allowed to practice. However, you can apply for an exemption if you have previously practiced as a lawyer in a different jurisdiction. Once your application has been approved, you can work legally as a lawyer in Canada.

How To Study Law In Canada

If you see yourself swaying the jury in Canadian courts, arguing your Canadian case, and having that famous Canadian justice prevail but are yet to start your legal career, studying law in Canada is the pathway for you. Here is a quick breakdown of how you can join Canada's legal system from the ground up.

Step 1: Obtain your Undergraduate Degree

In Canada, you cannot move on to obtaining a law degree directly out of high school. Completing an undergraduate degree (or post-secondary studies) is best for you. Foreign nationals who want to study in Canada must ensure their qualification is equivalent to the Canadian standard. The following degrees are excellent preparation before tackling a law degree:

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA)
  • Bachelor of Science (BSC)
  • Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA)
  • Bachelor of Commerce (BComm)
  • Bachelor of Engineering (BEng.)

An undergraduate degree will take the applicant about three to four years (depending on your program) to complete. Therefore, to be considered eligible to enter a law school, Canada requires the applicant to complete coursework that amounts to three to four academic years of undergraduate studies.

If the law school does not require post-secondary education, your application will still stand a better chance of getting approved as it will be seen as more competitive. However, once you have completed your undergraduate Degree, you can move on to the next step.

Step 2: Take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

Most Canadian law schools require you to take LSAT, but not all. The LSAT is valid for five years after you have your results. It usually takes half a day to complete.

This test can be taken online and consists of two sections:
  • Multiple choice questions with scenarios to test the problem-solving abilities of the applicant as well as their ability to think logically and analytically.
  • Short essay question. This section will be marked separately from the multiple-choice questions.

You can take the test more than once. However, different institutions will require different test scores. For example, some law schools allow the average score, while others only take the highest-scoring candidates.

Step 3: Apply to Law School

Choosing which law school best suits your needs is essential. The requirements for law schools differ depending on the province or territory you decide to study in. The main requirements for obtaining a law degree are as follows:

  • Academic transcripts;
  • LSAT score;
  • Personal statements and;
  • Reference letters.

Check the closing dates for applications with each institute you apply to.

The first common-law Degree in Canada is the Juris Doctor or JD, which takes up to three years to complete. This is still an undergraduate degree even though you require a different undergraduate degree to gain admission to obtain this law degree. Other degrees after that will help you become a lawyer in Canada and work your way up.

After you have obtained your law degree, you can apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP). This will allow you to work in Canada, making it much easier to get permanent residency. In addition, it will significantly benefit your application as it will show that you have lived in Canada and can look after yourself in a country that is not your own.

Becoming a lawyer in Canada can seem challenging, but it is possible. Let us simplify your immigration process by assisting with your every need. With help from certified RCIC agents, your journey could be less complicated and simplified.

How To Get a Student Visa

The first step to obtaining a student visa is to apply to a Designated Learning Institution (DLI).

Once you've applied to the DLI and gotten approved, you can apply for a study permit. The documents you will need to apply for a study permit are as follows:

  • A valid passport or travel documents;
  • A letter of acceptance from a DLI;
  • Proof of funds for yourself or any family members joining you.

You might be asked to submit additional documentation depending on your country of origin. In addition, a processing fee will vary depending on the number of people on your application.

If you intend to study for longer than six months, you must get a medical exam and police clearance. A general doctor will not conduct the medical exam. Instead, it will have to be done by a panel physician. The exam can be submitted before or after you submit your application for a study permit.

Once your application and documents have been submitted and fees have been paid, you will have a waiting period of about 13 weeks before you get your approval for your student visa.

Becoming a lawyer in Canada is a rewarding and exciting career path. However, it is essential to remember that the process of becoming a lawyer in Canada can be a long and difficult one. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the process before embarking on this career path and to ensure that you have the required qualifications and experience.


What are the Best Law Schools in Canada?

The University of Toronto and McGill University are two of the best universities in Canada. Below is a list of the top universities for law in Canada in 2023 according to Times Higher Education and the cities they are based in.

Canada Law School Rank 2023 University City
1 University of Toronto Toronto
2 McGill University Montreal
3 University of British Columbia Vancouver
4 University of Montreal Montreal
5 University of Ottawa Ottawa
6 Dalhousie University Halifax
7 University of Calgary Calgary
8 University of Alberta Edmonton
9 Queen’s University Kingston
10 University of Victoria Victoria
10 Western University London
10 York University Toronto
10 Carleton University Ottawa
10 Université Laval Quebec City
10 Université du Québec Quebec City
10 University of Saskatchewan Saskatoon

What is the Cost of Studying Law in Canada?

The cost of studies will vary depending on the institution you apply for and the type of program you are interested in, so it's essential to check the website or ask for a quote before deciding to use it.

This website provides a full breakdown of Canadian tuition fees and the other costs of studying in Canada.

How Much do Lawyers Earn in Canada?

According to the Canadian Job Bank, the median annual salary for a lawyer is 116,940. However, this differs depending on your province, type of law, and experience level.

What Types of Lawyers are In Demand in Canada?

Law has many facets, so many other options exist. Here are some in-demand law options:

  • Complex Litigation
  • Corporate Law
  • Tax Law
  • Intellectual Property
  • Blockchain
  • Healthcare
  • Environmental
  • Criminal
  • Civil Rights
  • Animal Rights
  • Immigration
  • Sports and Entertainment
  • Labour
  • Family Law
  • Elder Law
  • Education

Who are the Highest Paid Lawyers in Canada?

The highest-paying lawyers in Canada jobs, can vary based on location, level of experience, the size of the firm, their primary duties and national average salaries. The highest paid lawyers in Canada, and the salary for each role, according to are as follows:

Lawyer Position Annual Salary (CAD)
Attorney at law 61,110
Patent attorney 58,741
Legal manager 67,536
Intellectual property paralegal 62,319
General counsel 114,079
Family lawyer 95,906
Personal injury lawyer 94,019 
Corporate counsel 122,856
Employment lawyer 84,197
Litigation attorney 217,983

Explain How to Become an Immigration Lawyer in Canada?

The process of how to become an immigration lawyer in Canada doesn’t differ vastly from becoming any other type of lawyer. However, to practice immigration law in Canada, you must become a licensed lawyer or a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC). While you're not required to earn a specific certification to become an immigration lawyer, obtaining certifications can help make you a more attractive option to clients, especially in some states.

On the other hand, becoming an RCIC requires meeting education, citizenship, language, and conduct requirements and passing the Entry-to-Practice Exam. Immigration consultants are not lawyers and do not attend law school, but they can legally represent clients in immigration matters. However, only lawyers can advocate for clients in federal court, if required.

Continuing professional development programs offered by various legal associations can help keep your knowledge up-to-date. Networking with other professionals in the field can also provide learning and career growth opportunities.