The Federation of Law Societies of Canada (FLSC) is the national body which coordinates the 14 provincial and territorial law societies that exist in the country. Every lawyer in Canada and notary in Quebec is required by law to be a member of a law society and to be governed by its rules. The rules and regulations of the law society in each province in addition to the provincial laws regulate entry into the legal profession.
The English-speaking provinces of Canada follow the English common law traditions, while in the French-speaking province of Quebec the legal tradition is based on civil law.
The National Committee on Accreditation (NCA) which is part of FLSC, assesses the qualifications of all internationally-trained legal graduates, whether they are Canadian citizens who have obtained their legal education abroad, or newcomers to Canada with an overseas legal education. You are encouraged to start the assessment process before moving to Canada. Note that the NCA will not process your application until they get all your documents and the fees that are required.
It is important for you to have a general overview of how your international qualifications may be viewed in Canada and have a general sense of the Canadian labour market and workplace culture.
Before you immigrate
There are steps that you can take before you immigrate to improve your chances of practicing your profession in Canada.
- Attend the Know Before You Go Webinar Series to learn more about life in Canada.
- Contact the Canadian diplomatic mission closest to you to find out about the employment requirements for the legal profession in Canada.
- Contact the provincial regulatory association mandated in the province that you plan to settle. Find out the specific procedure to follow to obtain a lawyer’s permit and what steps you can take before and after you immigrate to Canada.
- You’ll need to prove your English or French (depending on your destination province) language competency or be tested. Even if you’re a fluent speaker of English or French, it’s helpful to improve your language skills and enroll in language classes while still in your home country and continue them after moving to Canada.
- Assess you language skills by taking an online self-assessment on the Canadian Language Benchmarks website.
- Understand how the legal profession is practiced in Canada and familiarize yourself with the laws and legislation that govern your profession in the province where you’ll settle.
- Know the name of your job in Canada and make a list of potential employers.
- Find out how to get a driver’s license in Canada and apply for it as soon as you land. It will be useful to have when you get a job, or even to search for a job.