Becoming a lawyer in Canada is a long road of study, determination, and drive. Once qualified you will be able to enjoy an interesting and fulfilling career that pays well, but how do you get there to start with?
You will need to earn a bachelor’s degree, but the subject does not matter too much. Law schools do not look for any particular degree and you should choose a subject that you enjoy as you are more likely to earn a good grade. Opt for a course that encourages critical thinking and problem solving and it should include English as part of it. Most law schools in Canada require a GPA above 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.
Law School Application
The next step is to apply to the law school of your choice, which most students do before the end of their third year of the degree course, or early in the fourth year. The Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) is scored on a scale of 120 to 180 and to be sure of admittance you need to score more than 160. There are free samples online, or you can take an LSAT Prep Course for which there is usually a fee. You can sit the test more than once. Held four times a year it is designed to evaluate your reading, analytical and logical skills.
Assemble Your Application Dossier
You will need to get together several documents to support your application. These can include a personal statement and references from professors that know you and character references. It is a good idea to give people at least one month’s notice that you will need these to give them the time to write a recommendation, and it is polite not to ask for it just a couple of days before you need it.
Choose Your School
There are 16 law schools in Canada and now is the time to pick the one most suitable for you. Consider location, costs and any special area they may deal with. Some have courses that combine law with social work, law with business or law with teaching. Pay attention to their deadlines for applications and make sure you meet them.
Complete Your Law Degree
Your law degree will take three years, the first year covering some compulsory subjects such as contracts and legal writing. Then you can choose from several specializations. For instance, if you want to be a Toronto Criminal Lawyer, an environmental law specialist or learn about corporate law, you will have the chance to pick which area you want.
You will need to study hard as exam results are very important at law school and if you do not make the grade you may not be allowed to continue with the course.
Apply for Internships
In the summer after completing your second year at law school you should apply for an internship with a licensed and practicing legal professional. This will give you invaluable experience and you will be required to do this for a while after passing your law degree. The length of time you need to be articled depends on the province you are in but ranges from several months to a year.
The Bar Association Course
Just having your law degree is not enough. You then have to become licensed and to do that you have to pass the Bar Association Course. The exam is offered three times a year and is in two parts. One part is with a barrister and the other a solicitor. They will be testing your knowledge about criminal law, public law, family law and civil litigation as well as real estate law, business law, wills, trusts, and estate management.
Now you are ready to start looking for work as a lawyer. Jobs with large firms and government departments can be hard to find. Don’t overlook the smaller firms as the experience you will gain is very valuable. You can work in private practice, public service, government, business, and other areas. You just need to find the right area for you.