Lawyer Licensing Process

Region: Ontario Answer # 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:

  1. Meet the pre-requisite educational requirements,
  2. Apply to enter the Lawyer Licensing Process,
  3. Complete the two components of the Lawyer Licensing Process, and
  4. 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:

  1. Licensing Examinations, and
  2. Experiential Training: Articling Program or Law Practice Program.

Licensing Examinations

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 Ontario provincial laws as well as Canadian federal laws,
  • establishing and maintaining the barrister-client relationship,
  • case analysis and assessment,
  • litigation process, and
  • alternative dispute resolution.

The Solicitor Examination focuses on:

  • ethical and professional responsibility,
  • knowledge of Ontario provincial laws as well as Canadian federal laws,
  • establishing and maintaining the solicitor-client relationship,
  • case analysis and assessment,
  • retainers and trust accounts, and
  • other practice management issues.


Experiential Training

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.

Temporary changes to articling program due to COVID-19

The Law Society of Ontario has implemented temporary changes to the length of the articling clerkship. The following is the LSO Statement:

“Candidates should note that, as a result of COVID-19, for those commencing an articling placement between May 1, 2020, and April 28, 2023, the minimum required length of the articling placement is eight months.”

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.

What is the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirement?

The Law Society of Ontario requires that lawyers and paralegals who are practicing law or providing legal services must complete at least 12 hours of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) every year. This must consist of a minimum of 3 Professionalism Hours, and up-to 9 Substantive Hours.

Professionalism Hours focus on professional responsibility, ethics and/or practice management and must be accredited by the Law Society.

Substantive Hours do not need to be accredited by the LSO and may focus on substantive or procedural law topics and/or related skills. Substantive Hours may also address non-legal subjects, as long as they are relevant to the lawyer’s practice and professional development.

Effective January 1, 2018, lawyers and paralegals must complete the CPD Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Requirement.

CPD workshops, seminars and conferences are offered by the LSO. For more information on the CPD requirement for lawyers and paralegals, visit the Law Society website.

More information

For more information about the Licensing Process in Ontario, including any temporary changes that may be in effect due to the current pandemic, 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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