Building a Legal Career in Canada
It is common in Canada that every law graduate does not take up legal practices. They may either have a government job, corporate legal expert job, business executives or legal advisors job among the multiple avenues opened for lawyers.
If you pursue a law degree from Canada, the system of combo studies in obtaining Masters Degree in law coupled with degree in subjects such as public administration, ethics, indigenous governance or criminology could brighten your career prospects in Canada Legal Services. Conversely you can choose the career of policy maker, teacher or research scholar in legal matters.
Legal System in Canada
Canada legal system is unique as it is the Civil law in Quebec while common law in other parts of Canada. Civil law is codified. The latest one enacted in 1991 is operative since 1994.
Under common law, the courts search for the existing laws at the first instance and then look for precedence. There is also a separate Aboriginal Justice Strategy or AJS for the aboriginals in the country since 1996 providing services to hundreds of people.
Judicial structure in Canada makes appointment of judges and creation of courts the domain of federal government. Provinces control the administration of justice in provinces.
The Supreme Court is the highest civil and criminal judicial authority and final appellate court in Canada. It consists of nine judges from five major parts of the country including three from Quebec alone. It also decides constitutional issues.
Federal Courts regulate intellectual properties and maritime laws. Tax Courts decide Taxation issues. Federal Court of Appeal reviews decision of both these courts. You also have administrative tribunals like the Immigration Appeal Board as well as the National Parole Board.
Provincial and territorial courts try most of the criminal cases and civil cases involving small amounts and include youth courts, family courts, and small court clients. The highest court in provincial level is the Superior Court with power to review.
In Canada, there are also many Administrative Boards and Tribunals that mostly deal with cases outside formal trials. Examples are the Canada Employment Insurance Commission, and the Labour Relations Board.
Practising law in Canada
Law societies regulate the legal profession in Canada. There are 14 of them. Required academic qualifications are:
- LLB degree from an accredited school of law in Canada or,
- LLB degree from a fully accredited school of law that is non-Canadian and NCA
(National Committee on Accreditation) approved.
You should study constitutional, taxation, corporate and administrative laws and law of evidence to be eligible for practicing in the Canadian Bar. The preconditions for eligibility are–
- Age of degree
- Ranking in the LLB exam
- Subjects studied, and
- Undergraduate education
After evaluation the NCA may direct you to obtain additional qualifications. You can earn them by following rules and guidelines issued by NCA.
Law Career prospects in Canada
Like any other country , Canada too has various types of litigations involving disputes on terms and contracts of business, breach of contract, partnership, balance sheet, employee issues, and trade and commerce related issues in business world. Similarly, in the social and personal arena there are property, marriage, relationship, and defamation disputes etc. With various litigations on social and commercial relationships expanding, law career prospects in Canada seem brighter.
You may become one of the leading legal counsels, attorneys, and private or public advocate, or a judge in Canada.
Legal job sources
You can choose from below roles in your legal career.
- Private lawyer.
- In house lawyer.
- Legal executives.
- Legal support professional.
- Legal Secretarial.
- Financial lawyer.
- Executive lawyer.
- Law trainer.
- IT lawyer.
- General lawyer.
- Human relationship expert.
- Associate lawyers.
- Recruitment consultant.
- Marketing or development consultant.
- Corporate legal consultants and advisors.
- Private firms legal consultants and advisors.
- Government advocates.
Specialisation for Higher Position
There is a huge demand for the mortgage lawyers. Lawyers with knowledge of English and French languages stand better chances of employment.
Affiliated lawyer jobs include mortgage finance and banking. Other related areas are land, rent, solvency, bankruptcy, finance, security issues and taxation.
Career could also be in consultancy, enforcement, and teaching. There is also good demand of legal assistants, legal ministerial people and personal legal advisors in Canada.
Legal Carrier for Foreign Students
For a legal career in Canada you require study and job permit. To obtain the same you need fulfil below criteria:
- Leave Canada after completion of studies
- Have been accepted by recognised educational institutions
- Have enough money to meet study expenses.
- Clear of criminal records, and
- Good health condition
Canadian work permit is temporary residential visa issued by the Immigration Department permitting foreign workers employment in Canada. The validity can be up to three years. Combined study and work permit are granted too.
Yet studying and building up a career in law in Canada is an expensive choice for overseas students. Recently the Canadian migration facilities have been squeezed. Your cost of studies would be around $10,000 on admission, $12,000 on tuition and another $10-12 in boarding and lodging. There could be some incidental expenses as well. The overall cost could be around $35,000-$40,000.
Law Societies in Canada
Law societies regulate the legal practices in Canada. Its rules and regulations are binding on members opting for legal practice. There are 14 law societies in Canada, two for Quebec, one each for other nine provinces and three for the three territories. Each of these law societies has its own board of directors known as benchers.
For membership one must produce relevant documents. A minimum of seven years of study of law with two university
degrees are necessary. You will have to complete the articling period as well as undergo the professional legal
training course of the concerned province.
The main function of law societies are –
- Enrolment of lawyers in society.
- Setting up professional standards for legal practicing,
- Professional liability insurance, and
- Maintenance of discipline among the members.
The new legal services paradigm in Canada
Of late Canada has adopted a new paradigm for the legal services that is global in nature. The knowledge base now extends far beyond the traditional jurisprudence and the conventional practices. The conglomeration of medicine, finance, politics, and such other subjects with the traditional subjects for law graduates are now giving the professional legal career a new dimension in Canada.