Foreign lawyers in Canada: How to become Accredited by the NCA?

Many foreign-trained lawyers find themselves unable to practice law in Canada because their credentials are not recognized. For that reason, the National Committee on Accreditation has created a re-certification process that evaluates law credentials obtained from outside of Canada and gives international lawyers an opportunity to speed up their preparation for the Canadian Bar exam.

This article gives a brief overview of the NCA assessment and accreditation process to help you prepare for your re-certification.

What is the National Committee on Accreditation?

The National Committee on Accreditation (or NCA) is a standing committee of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada (FLSC). According to the FLSC website:

The primary mandate of NCA is “… to protect the public interest by assessing the legal education and professional experience of individuals who obtained their credentials outside Canada or in a Canadian civil law program, and want to apply for admission to a common law Bar in Canada.”

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 only exception is the province of Quebec as the Barreau du Québec and the Chambre des Notaires du Québec have different evaluation procedures.

The NCA assessment needs to be done prior to entering the licensing process to practise law in a Canadian common law jurisdiction.

The NCA Assessment

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.

After all of the required documents are received, the NCA will start the application process, and an assessment report will be mailed to the applicant within 4-8 weeks. For more detailed information, please go to the FLSC website.

After the Assessment

Each application is looked at on an individual basis, evaluating candidates’ experience and qualifications, the length of the program and subjects of studies, academic performance, the type of legal system where education was acquired, and other similar criteria.

After the assessment is complete, candidates will receive their assessment report that outlines the list of requirements they would need to meet in order to receive a Certificate of Qualification. The requirements can be divided into 3 types:

  1. Passing the NCA exams;
  2. Taking courses in specific areas of law at a Canadian law school; or
  3. Completing a Canadian common law degree program.

The assigned requirements focus on the key competencies of the Canadian common law, including 5 mandatory subject areas:

  • Foundations of Canadian Law;
  • Canadian Administrative Law;
  • Canadian Constitutional Law;
  • Canadian Criminal Law; and
  • Canadian Professional Responsibility.

The candidates may have to demonstrate knowledge and skills on other key subject areas, including:

  • Business Organizations (formerly Corporate Law);
  • Contract Law;
  • Torts; and
  • Property Law.

The NCA Exams

Applicants that received their NCA assessment can register for the NCA examinations. Each examination follows an open-book, paper-and-pen, pass-or-fail format, and lasts approximately 3 hours. Candidates must pre-register for each exam session, and they can do that as early as 4-6 weeks prior to the start of the exam. The start dates can be found on the 2017 Examination Schedule. The NCA exam results are released 10-12 weeks following the exam date.

Applicants are responsible for their own preparation for the NCA exams, including finding their study and preparation materials, and/or registering for the NCA Exams Pep courses, if they choose to.

The cost of each NCA exam is CAN$340, plus applicable taxes. Applicants may retake the exam up to two times; each time they are required to pay the NCA exam fee.

What’s Next?

Once an international lawyer meets all of the NCA requirements, they may request a Certificate of Qualification. This certificate can later be used to enter their Bar admission process.

Without a doubt, re-certification process can be lengthy and can require candidates to pursue more education. At the same time, the results will be worth it. After all, a median annual salary of a lawyer in BC is $106,638, according to WorkBC website.

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  1. oyeleke idowu says:

    Please I will like to know where all the documents required for assessment will be sent i,e academic transcripts and other relevant documents. Thanks

  2. Dongyoon Won says:

    Hi, My name is Dongyoon Won, and I am a Canadian citizen.
    I was wondering if US attorney can practice law in Canada, especially in BC.
    Please kindly do let me know the procedures.
    Regards,
    Dong-yoon

  3. Rosetta Ibeanusi says:

    Hi
    I studied LLB law in the UK and graduated upper second class Honours in 2011 although I have never practiced since then. I’m now a permanent resident in Canada and seriously considering going into full time practice. Please do I need to go through NCA? Thanks for your kind attention.

  4. Richard Borokini says:

    I will like to enrol for the programme to practice law in Canada .

  5. Enas says:

    Hi,
    I have an LLB and LLM from UK and have almost obtained PR status in Canada. I have around 3 years of work experience from Pakistan. I wish to practice law in Ontario and would like to know whether I should apply for assessment from NCA or contact the Federation of law society? Thanks.

  6. Luis Cueto Preciado says:

    Dear Law Ontario Society Officer,
    My name is Luis Cueto and I am writing you from Mexico where I have practiced law for 5 years and have experience in labor, environmental, family and corporate law, as well as in mediation. For a variety of reasons, with the crime and insecurity being the principal, I am planning to emigrate to Canada and I would like to know if in your province I may take a graduate program or masters degree that would allow me to practice a specific type of law. I am most interested in immigration, environmental, alternate dispute resolution and international law. I would also be interested in practicing the type of law that newcomers need most.

    I am hoping to not have to go through law school or prepare for the LSAT because of time and economic concerns. I am also 53 years old and I would hate to be denied admission into a law program and to start practicing again when I am almost 60 years old.

    There are a variety of graduate law programs online that sound interesting, but I would rather complete a graduate program in Canada since that would facilitate the process of becoming a legal resident and eventually a Canadian citizen.

    I would certainly appreciate your orientation and guidance.

    Regards,

    Luis Cueto-Preciado

  7. G S Dhillon says:

    My daughter passed her law degree from India in Jult 2019. Now assisting a senior lawyer.

    I want to know all steps.
    Can she take her exam from India.

    Please suggest.

  8. Mr. Satwant Singh Wander says:

    Sir, I am from India, a practicing lawyer . I want to enroll as a lawyer in Canada . Presently I am in India. Please guide.

  9. Asif says:

    Hello
    I have completed my LL.B and LL.M from Bangladesh. Can you please tell me the procedure of Canada court practice as lawyer?
    Should I take another degree? If it so then how long is that? And how much it costs
    Thanks
    Regards

  10. Maria Bychkova says:

    Hi Ali Raza,

    Please check the official NCA website to find out more information about the process of becoming a lawyer in Canada: https://flsc.ca/national-committee-on-accreditation-nca/

    Thank you!

  11. Ali Raza Tariq Advocate says:

    I am Pakistani resident
    I would like to apply just need some information
    Please if you could help us
    I have read all the relevant information but want to know about Visa to come in the country
    How can I apply for that please 8f you can quide lilttle
    Regards
    Ali

  12. Maria Bychkova says:

    Hi Aaditya,

    Please check the official NCA website to find out more information about the process of becoming a lawyer in Canada: https://flsc.ca/national-committee-on-accreditation-nca/

    Thank you!

  13. I am an Gujarat High Court Advocate (LLB) passed out from Gujarat University, Ahmedabad, India. I am yet not clear if I want to become accredited by NCA, would I require to come to Canada for studies or I can clear stages of licence process, while I am in India ?
    Moreover, I want to understand step by step process and total expenditure I am likely to incur for the Accreditation process.

    Aaditya Bhatt
    Advocate, Gujarat High Court

  14. Maria Bychkova says:

    Hi Ndidi,

    Please check the official NCA website to find out more information about the process of becoming a lawyer in Canada: https://flsc.ca/national-committee-on-accreditation-nca/

  15. Ndidi says:

    Thanks for the information above. I currently live and practice law in Nigeria and I would like to know if these NCA Exams must be written in Canada?

    Also, does the requirement of “a letter of good standing” mean a letter from the local branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, of which I am a member or from the University where I studied Law?

    Kind regards,

    Ndidi.

  16. Maria Bychkova says:

    Hi Omid,

    Please check the official NCA website to find out more information about the process of becoming a lawyer in Canada: https://flsc.ca/national-committee-on-accreditation-nca/

  17. Omid says:

    Hi, I’m Iranian lawyer from Iranian central bar, with 9 work experience in filed law property, I asked ،do apply registered primarily evidence on the NCA website or taking a course prior?

  18. Maria Bychkova says:

    Hi Abuzar,
    Please check the official NCA website to find out more information about the process of becoming a lawyer in Canada: https://flsc.ca/national-committee-on-accreditation-nca/

  19. Abuzar Bukhari says:

    I am an practising lawyer in province punjab Pakistan.
    I want to get a license of any state of canada how is the process abd how to get

  20. Maria Bychkova says:

    Hi Nwosu,
    Please check the official NCA website to find out more information about the process: https://flsc.ca/national-committee-on-accreditation-nca/

  21. Maria Bychkova says:

    Hi Ayushi,
    Unfortunately, we do not offer any preparation courses for the NCA exam. Please refer to their official website to check their available resources.
    Thank you!

  22. AYUSHI ROHIT GUPTA says:

    DO YOU HAVE COURSESS TO PREPARE FOR NCA EXAMS TO QUALIFY TO PRACTICE LAW IN CANADA? I HAVE COMPLETED LLB FROM INDIA

  23. Nwosu says:

    Need requirements on how to practice as a lawyer in Canada.

  24. Hiteshi Mehta says:

    I have completed LLB from India and have around 7-8 years experience as corporate lawyer. What will I have to do to work as in house lawyer in corporates in Canada or practice law with law firms in Canada.
    I would like to know the process, no. of years it would take to get certified and the exemptions that i would get.

    • Maria Bychkova says:

      Hi Hiteshi,

      Unfortunately, I cannot help you with the answer to this question, as we are not dealing with the accreditation of foreign-trained lawyers.

      Please contact the Federation of Law Societies of Canada directly: https://flsc.ca/

      Thank you!

  25. Jay says:

    I am a brand new, permanent resident of Ontario. I was a trial attorney and consultant in the USA. I was informed I need to pass the NCA exams. Do I need to enroll in law school classes or can I study for rhe NCA on my own?

  26. Dana says:

    I have a Syrian Law Degree, Canadian High School Degree and I am a Canadian Citizen currently residing in Dubai and working for an American Law Firm for 7 years. How can I become a non-practicing Canadian bar enrolled lawyer if I decide I want to stay working abroad.

  27. Nimash says:

    If I have a LLB degree from a UK university, what should I do to become a lawyer in Canada?

    • Maria Bychkova says:

      Hi Nimash,

      Please refer to the blog above how you can get your degree accredited by the National Committee on Accreditation in Canada.

      For more details visit the official website of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada: https://flsc.ca/

  28. Ayushi says:

    Hey, your article was very helpful. I have some questions though. Can I start the NCA process while in India? Will there Certificate also help me in increasing my PR score for Canada? Where to get notes for the various subjects for the NCA exam?

  29. Chris says:

    I‘ve got a attorney’s license in the USA, passing the USBAR examination. I was wondering is it possible to transfer USBAR license to Ontario Bar license? If it is practicable, could you please provide me a direction of how to transfer the license.Many thanks.
    Looking for your quick reply!

  30. Shashi says:

    Hi. Your article is really helpful and cleared quite a few of my doubts. The only doubt I have is whether I am required to be in Canada to start this process or can I start this process while I am based in India?

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Regards
    Shashi

    • Maria Bychkova says:

      Hi Shashi,

      According to the official information from the NCA, in order to apply for the assessment, you need to complete the online application form, pay the fee and arrange with your law school or other educational institutions where you obtained your legal education to mail (by regular post or courier) all official and final transcripts to the NCA. Your location doesn’t matter when you start the application.

      If you have further questions, please contact the NCA directly: https://flsc.ca/national-committee-on-accreditation-nca/

      Thank you!

  31. I did my Bachelor of Laws in 1966 from Punjab University, Chandigarh, India. I then joined prestigious Indian Police Service in 1967 and superannuated as Director- General in 2002. In 2005, I was enrolled as an Advocate of Bombay High Court. Thereafter, I did only chamber practice to help the poor and the disenfranchised. In 2018, I have come to Toronto, Canada, on PR.
    How best I can contribute my past experience in Law to help the poor and the indigent.

  32. Nathalie Carrasco says:

    I would like to have information about this article: Foreign lawyers in Canada: How to become Accredited by the NCA?. I am really interested on this program, if you still having it.
    Thanks in advance.
    Best regards,

  33. Eterhere Rukevwe says:

    Hello, I have two questions to ask:
    1. How long does it take to complete a Canadian common law degree program?
    2. Is passing the Canadian law school a precondition for eligibility to sit for the NCA assessment exam?
    Thank you.

  34. HAUVILLE says:

    Hello,

    I’m a French Notary and leave in Montréal.
    Can I apply for the accreditation and become a foreign lawyer ?
    Best regards

  35. Jitendra says:

    After obtaining NCA accreditation report of a law degree from a foreign nation, can that foreign lawyer practice as a foreign legal consultant in Canada AND under what visa category should he apply to immigrate to Canada ?

    • Maria Bychkova says:

      Hi Jitendra,
      Please refer to the Federation of Law Societies of Canada official website to learn what the NCA will allow you to work as in Canada.
      As for the immigration, this will depend on what class you qualify under.

  36. Amir Singh Virk says:

    Useful information thanks

  37. Eric Polsn says:

    Very well written, the article offers pertinent advice-in becoming a lawyer in Canada-

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