A Short Guide to Becoming a Lawyer in Canada
Step 1: High School
Many law schools require applicants to have a university bachelor’s degree. If you are interested in pursuing a legal career, start preparing early. Good grades are needed to gain admission to university.
Courses in English will help develop your writing skills and prepare you for university essay writing.
Step 2: University PT. 1
Study What you Enjoy
Most Canadian law schools accept a Bachelors of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) in any subject area. Therefore, most admissions counsellors recommend that undergraduate students major in a field which interests them. You are more likely to do well in courses on subject areas you enjoy.
If you are still unsure on what courses you should take, you can speak with the registrars or career counsellors at your university.
Courses which focus on writing, reading comprehension, and critical thinking are excellent preparation for those interested in attending law school or a legal career.
Step 3: University PT. 2
Get the Grades
Many factors are taken into consideration during the law school admission process; however, a high undergraduate GPA may make you a more competitive applicant; during your undergrad, try to get the best grades as possible.
Developing strong study habits in your undergraduate academic career will help you prepare for a rigiours course load in law school.
Pursue your interests in and outside the classroom. Joining a campus organization is an excellent way for you to develop your leadership, communications, time management, and organizational skills while also meeting new people.
Joining a campus prelaw organization, inviting law students or lawyers for informational interviews, job shadowing, and attending information days at law schools are just some activities that can help you learn more about law school and the legal profession.
Talk to your Professors
Some law schools may require academic letters of references/ letters of recommendations in your application. Begin to develop an academic relationship with your professors early; a professor who knows your academic abilities well can write a strong letter.
Step 4: LSAT
Many Canadian law schools require applicants to submit their Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores. The LSAT is a standardized test administered by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC).
The test contains 4 sections–Reading Comprehension, Analytical Reasoning, Logical Reasoning, and Essay.
The LSAT is administered 4 times a year (February, June, October, and December).
Prepare for the LSAT!
We highly recommend that you prepare for the LSAT before taking the test.
There are many courses, books, and online resources that can help you prepare for the test.
Some university prelaw societies and LSAT course prep companies offer practice LSAT tests throughout the year. Sample tests from previous years can be found on the LSAC website.
Step 5: Applying to Law School
Research the Schools
Location, law interests, attendance costs, financial aid packages, dual programs/combined programs offered, and placements/internship/study abroad opportunities are some factors you will want to consider when researching law schools. Visit the admissions website, speak with an admissions representative, or attend an admissions event for more information.
In Canada there are two legal traditions, common law and civil law. Most french language law schools offer civil law programs/degrees (which is popular in predominately French-speaking provinces such as Quebec); most english language law schools offer common law programs/degrees (which is popular in predominately English-speaking provinces like Ontario). The admissions website will indicate which program type is offered. Some law schools, such as the University of Ottawa, may offer both.
Read the Procedures Carefully
The application procedure for first year admissions is different for each law school. Carefully read the application deadlines, requirements, and procedures for each law school.
Also, remember that many Canadian law schools have different deadlines for financial aid/awards/scholarships, application submission, last LSAT written, or supporting documents.
Admissions, it’s a Holistic Approach
The admissions committee takes a variety of factors into consideration; therefore, a strong personal statement and letters of recommendation may mitigate a low LSAT score or GPA.
The admissions website may have information on how each element of the application is weighted.
Although the application fee can range from $80 – $290, some law schools have a fee waiver program. Visit the admissions website or speak to a representative for more information.
If you plan on applying to multiple law schools, you may want start saving early.
You can try again
If you do not gain admission to law school, many law schools will allow you to apply again for the next academic cycle.
Step 6: Attend Law School
Most law school programs are three years long. Try and get the best grades that you can. When you apply for law positions, many prospective employers will examine your course grades and GPA.
An Interactive Experience
Make the most out of your law school experience. In addition to completing rigours coursework and joining traditional extra-curricular activities, some law schools may offer students the opportunity to study abroad, participate in placements at legal clinics, pursue a dual/combined degree, or contribute to research projects. Please visit the law school’s website or speak with a representative for more information.
Step 7: Bar Admissions and Beyond
To become a lawyer in Canada, you will have to pass the Bar Admission course. The requirements to complete the Bar Admissions is different in each province. Please consult with your province’s law society to confirm the requirements.
In addition to passing the bar, to become a lawyer in Canada, you will have to participate in an articling program. An articleship usually involves a law student working under a licensed lawyer for a specific period of time. The requirements for articleships differs from province to province.
Some provinces may have additional requirements before a law student can become a licensed lawyer. Please consult with your province’s law society for more information.