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Dated: 02/05/2020

This webinar summary is written by Ankur Mukherjee, Brainware University.

Guest Speaker: Jagriti Singh is an alumnus of National Law School Bangalore, she completed her B.A.LL.B (Honours). She has worked in Luthra & Luthra Law Offices as an associate for a year. She was the Legal Counsel at Investment Board of the Government of Nepal. She pursued her Master’s degree from UC Berkeley in California. She also joined Trilegal and then worked for Apple in India. Presently residing in  Canada. 

Host: Ramnauj Mukherji is an alumnus of the National University of Judicial Sciences, Kolkata. He is the CEO of LawSikho and co-founder of iPleaders. His previous work experience includes being part of the Private Equity and M&A Team at Trilegal, Mumbai.

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What is NCA Examination?

The National Committee on Accreditation (or NCA) is a standing committee of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada (FLSC). In other words, the NCA aims to ensure that a degree obtained from abroad or a Canadian civil law degree meet the national standards for legal practitioners in Canada. This way, candidates do not need to follow different entrance requirements to practice law in Canadian provinces and/or territories. The NCA assessment needs to be done prior to entering the licensing process to practise law in a Canadian common law jurisdiction.

How NCA Examinations are conducted in Canada?

Internationally trained lawyers can apply for the NCA assessment at any time, even prior to coming to Canada (citizenship and residency are not looked at during the assessment process). FLSC identifies the following formalities that are necessary in order for the NCA assessment to be processed:

  • Online assessment application form, including a payment of CAN$450, plus applicable taxes;
  • Official set of final academic transcripts from the institution of your studies (copies are not accepted);
  • Set of documents to be sent to the NCA by the institution where you completed your legal education, including: 

an official copy of your academic transcripts;

(if applicable) a certificate or letter of membership in good standing from the local regulatory authority; and

(if applicable) an official copy of your transcripts from the local regulatory authority for any courses or examinations required by such authority.

  • (If the official language of instruction of the law degree or the official language in the jurisdiction was other than English or French) Language proficiency of a minimum 7.0 on each module of IELTS test (for English) or TESTCan (for French). This requirement may be waived if sufficient evidence is presented.

How difficult are the NCA Examinations?

The exams can be quite challenging, which is supported by an alarmingly high failure rate. According to the 1999-2009 NCA statistics, only 1,708 out of 4,515 applicants — approximately 38 per cent — received certificates of qualification. In response to this low rate, some Canadian universities offer preparation courses to assist NCA students. For example, the University of Toronto offers a 10-month Internationally Trained Lawyers Comprehensive Program at a cost of $6,500.

How should you crack the Bar Examinations in Canada?

To become a practicing lawyer in Canada, you need two to four years of a university program and a Juris Doctor/Bachelor of Laws degree from a recognized law school. Next, you must complete a period of articling, a bar admission course and exam, and be licensed in the province/territory where you plan to work. Expect a commitment of six to eight or more years.
Admission to law school is generally based on the following criteria – Some law schools require only two or three years of university study, while others prefer an undergraduate degree. Your application will likely be more competitive if you have completed your undergraduate degree. Consider selecting courses or a degree in which you have a strong interest, and include courses that will enhance and develop your skills in critical analysis, logical reasoning, written and oral communication. In addition, consider courses or a program that you can excel at to ensure your GPA is as high as possible to meet or exceed admission requirements. Athabasca University does not offer a law degree. Athabasca University offers many undergraduate courses and degrees to consider for the first phase of your education. See AU undergraduate courses and programs. LSAT (Law School Admissions Test) is a standardized test designed to measure certain skills necessary for success in law school. All Canadian and U.S. law schools require the standard LSAT. The test is administered by the Law School Admissions Counsel (LSAC).

Other admission criteria may include letters of recommendation, work experience, community involvement, and a personal statement. Some schools have separate admissions categories for mature students and Indigenous students. Consider your own preferences and areas of interest when researching law schools. Just as a law school evaluates applicants for the suitability, conduct your own law school research to identify those that best fit your own preferences and areas of interest

What is the Job Market structure in Canada?

Law is seen as one of Canada’s top occupations in the future. Canada is waiting for you with great potential when you have a Bachelor in Pre-Law, a First Degree in law and a Bar exam. The starting salary is CAD 72,000 a year for an attorney in Canada. Canada provides multiple career opportunities in different fields of law. However, the opportunities for employment are rising due to the declining number of lawyers. Lawyers in all fields, ranging from corporate to criminal law, are in high demand. Lawyers seek to ensure that the interests of an organization or person are secured. The job specifications depend on the students’ type of law.

The ranking associations have ranked Toronto University in the 16th position, McGill University in the 13th, and 17th to Law in British Columbia University, respectively. QS World Rankings were ranked 51-100th in legal studies by the University of British Columbia.

Is lifestyle in Canada as a Lawyer worth it? 

With a degree in law in Canada, students can work as a consultant, a chartered accounting officer, a civil service administrator, data analyst, a forensic computer analyst, a human resources officer, a patent attorney, a stockbroker, a corporate standards officer or a professional standards officer. In a number of market segments, the provision of legal services by Canadian lawyers is stratified:

  • Practising alone;
  • Micro and small-scale companies;
  • Large regional or domestic companies;
  • Large and multi-legal companies;
  • In-house counsel and attorneys who work in other fields of business;
  • Governments as well as NGOs.

Students may select non-teaching positions in universities in addition to teaching at a college or university. In Canada, law schools accept lawyers qualified in recruitment, graduate relations, career resources and law libraries. If students are experienced in securities, trusts and property, tax law or banking law, they can use this in the banking and financial sectors. The career opportunities include a risk manager, property planning consultant, trust director, financial advisor, commercial credit officer and fund manager. There are growing areas of arbitration, mediation and negotiation. Persons with good organizational skills and ability to settle conflicts are hired by trade unions, hospitals, school boards, universities and state authorities. Lawyers are also employed as policy consultants in provincial and federal governments. In written reports, they collect and evaluate knowledge and problems. They coordinate strategic policy development. The health, transport, educational and environmental issues will be the areas of policy. Companies are trying to recruit skilled people.

Lawyers are often recruiting coordinators, assistants or training supervisors. There are also other job opportunities, such as an administrator of a company, a head of recruiting, a marketing officer, etc. If a student is technically competent, then he can use his legal software expertise to serve as an IT consultant. There is also an option for a legal nurse consultant if a student has a history of nursing. Several lawyers use their experience in the study and work as independent legal authors and publishers. They not only publish legal documents, they even write law books for themselves. In Canada, you can also work as a journalist or magazine writer or write material for websites of law firms. In addition, if you choose to work in non-traditional careers, a degree in law may also be useful to you. Such positions include an accountant, a consultant, an ethics officer, a probation officer, a consumer advocate, a librarian, an auditor, among others. The clients now demand consistency in the services offered as far as the law is concerned in Canada.

Questions by audience

Is it possible to attempt all the five NCA examinations together?

Yes, it is absolutely possible as each applicant is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, determining the expertise and credentials of the applicants, the course and subjects, academic achievement, the type of legal system in which education was obtained and other similar requirements.

When the assessment is complete, the applicants should submit their assessment report detailing the list of criteria they will meet in order to obtain a Certification Certificate. The specifications can be classified into three different types:

  • NCA tests passed;
  • Courses in different areas of law at a school under Canadian rule;
  • Completion of a curriculum of Canadian common law.

The NCA tests can be reported for applicants who have earned their NCA evaluation. That test takes about 3 hours and follows the open book style, paper-and-pen, pass-or-fail. For each examination session, candidates must pre-register and they may do so 4-6 weeks before the examination begins. You can find the starting dates on the exam schedule for 2017. The results of the NCA exam are released 10-12 weeks after the test date. CAN$340 plus related taxes is the cost of each NCA check. Applicants can resume examinations twice, paying the NCA examination fee each time

Is it easier to grab a job at paralegal position?

Paralegals are essential to the legal workforce. Earning a role as a paralegal means demonstrating a broad range of skills. These professionals need acute analytical abilities, plus they know how to keep operations running smoothly. While there is a broad, general skill set for paralegals, there are also many specialists like immigration, real estate and corporate paralegals. Step one in pursuing a role as a paralegal is to make sure that your resume and cover letter are updated, error-free and ready for circulation. If you’ve worked in a legal environment before, you know that the culture in legal offices tends to be formal. If you’re a freshly credentialled paralegal, keep this in mind. Dress and communication, especially at larger firms, follow the mores of the courts and is likely to be formal. Negotiating a salary can be stressful for job seekers. This can be especially challenging if you’re negotiating directly with an attorney, who’s a seasoned pro when it comes to bolstering a savvy deal.

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