Area of Law: Law Schools, Lawyers, Law Clerks and Paralegals
Answer Number: 889
Lawyer Licensing ProcessRegion: Ontario Answer Number: 889
The focus of The Law Society of Ontario’s Lawyer Licensing Process is to ensure that candidates meet the high standards of learning, competence and professional conduct in order to provide legal services effectively and in the public interest.
To be able to practice law in Ontario, candidates must:
- Meet the pre-requisite educational requirements,
- Apply to enter the Lawyer Licensing Process,
- Complete the two components of the Lawyer Licensing Process, and
- Be called to the Bar.
1. Prerequisite educational requirements
The following candidates can apply to the Lawyer Licensing Process:
- Graduates from a common law program offered by a university in Canada approved by Convocation. Upon successful completion of the approved law program, the candidate will receive a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) or a Juris Doctor (JD). In most law schools the minimum length of the program is three academic years.
- Lawyers licensed from a Canadian province outside of Ontario.
- Applicants with a law degree obtained outside of Canada and graduates from a Canadian non-accredited law school. Before being admitted to the Lawyer Licensing Process, these individuals must have their law credentials evaluated and receive a Certificate of Qualification issued by the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA).
2. Application for the Lawyer Licensing Process
Once educational requirements have been met, candidates are eligible to apply to the Licensing Process. The application to enter the Lawyer Licensing Process consists of two parts.
First, candidates must complete the online application, and pay the non-refundable application fee. Along with personal information, such as date of birth, proof of education, and proof of legal name, the online application asks questions concerning the applicant’s “good character”.
Second, the candidate must submit a paper copy of their application and supporting documentation to the Licensing Process, Licensing and Accreditation Department at the Law Society. Documents required include:
- Official transcripts confirming the candidate graduated from an accredited law school with a Bachelor of Laws or JD degree; or a Certificate of Qualification issued by the NCA;
- Two colour passport-sized photographs, taken within the last 12 months;
- Proof of legal name; and
- Any other required documents.
All documents must be certified by a commissioner of oaths or a notary public.
3. Lawyer Licensing Process
Once the application has been accepted, candidates can enter and complete the Licensing Process. The Process has two components:
- Licensing Examinations, and
- Experiential Training: Articling Program or Law Practice Program.
There are two examinations that must be taken, the Barrister Examination and the Solicitor Examination. To be eligible to write both examinations, a student must meet the academic requirements of the Licensing Process, and pay all required fees. Both exams are open-book, and are approximately seven hours long.
The Barrister Examination focuses on ethical and professional responsibility, knowledge of public law, criminal procedure, family law and civil litigation, and establishing and maintaining the barrister-client relationship.
The Solicitor Examination also focuses on ethical and professional responsibility, and knowledge of real estate, business law, wills, trusts and estate administration and planning, and establishing and maintaining the solicitor-client relationship.
The second component of the Licensing Process is the requirement to complete experiential training. According to the Law Society, experiential training “enables candidates to apply their formal learning and develop their skills, professional abilities and judgment, and to learn about what it means to be a lawyer.”
Candidates are given two options to meet this requirement.
- The Articling Program, which consists of working ten months with an Articling Principal approved by the Law Society, or
- The Law Practice Program (LPP), which consists of a four-month training course and a four-month work placement. The program is offered in English at Ryerson University, and in French from the University of Ottawa.
See 888 Articling and Law Practice Programs for more information.
4. Call to the Bar
Once candidates have successfully completed the Licensing Examinations, fulfilled either the Articling Program or Law Practice Program as part of the Experiential Training component, filed all documents and paid all required fees, they can be called to the Bar.
For more information about the Licensing Process in Ontario, contact the Law Society of Ontario. Call (416) 947-3300 or toll-free at 1-800-668-7380, or visit the Law Society website.
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