Recently, the Law Society of Ontario (LSO) issued a newsletter addressing some concerns relating to the decision of moving to an in-person examination method for the 2022-2023 licensing cycle. This update arrived as a consequence of the cancellation of the summer examinations announced by the LSO in March 2022. The decision to cancel the summer examinations was made due to the examination content being improperly accessed by some candidates and/or third parties.

            Expectantly, this decision severely affected approximately 1,100 candidates, who were set to write their online examinations. In an open letter directed to the LSO and the Attorney General of Ontario, licensing candidates expressed their frustration and disappointment regarding the LSO’s decision to postpone the June 2022 bar exams to July 2022, in addition to cancelling online assessments. Lawyers and students have also expressed their confusion with returning to an in-person format – solely because the examination content was leaked, as they argue that it can potentially be leaked again even if they were to cancel online assessments.

 

Recently, I had the opportunity to spend an evening with Justice McLeod (Ontario Court of Justice), Justice Braid (Superior Court), Justice J.L. Waddilove (Ontario Court of Justice) and Justice Jain (Superior Court), all remarkable female judges in the industry. This event was an initiative by the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) (amongst several other similar events being organised by law schools across Canada), to encourage young female lawyers to join the judiciary. The IAJW is actively working towards removing impediments faced by female lawyers and judges in the world with a focus on the high attrition rate of females in the profession. The evening was full of riveting and intriguing conversation as our judges talked about increasing representation, equity and diversity within the law, and what it takes to be a judge.
By virtue of Osgoode’s Women Network, attendees of the evening received the chance to personally interact with the Judges. Attendees not only learned from the fierce personal experiences narrated by the esteemed judges that formed the panel but were also allowed time to ask direct questions.

The Articling Program has been a challenging journey for many law students. It is intended to satisfy the Law Society that the applicant has practical & substantive knowledge of being a lawyer in Canada. It is a significant step in a law student’s legal career that enables the transition from school to practice. The Law Society of Alberta’s (“LSA”) admission program requires an eight-to-twelve-month articling term. Students must also enrol in the Practice Readiness Education Program (PREP) administered by the Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education (CPLED). You can learn more about the process of becoming a lawyer in Alberta here.

The Articling Placement Program has been introduced by the LSA with the goal of assisting articling students exit their current position and find replacement articles if they are placed in untenable or unsafe work environments and subjected to harassment or discrimination.

Harassment or Discrimination during Articling

Continue reading “The Articling Dilemma & LSA’s Intervention”

The journey to becoming a licensed lawyer in Canada involves various stages of examinations and plenty of studying. We understand that sometimes, Internationally Trained Lawyers (“ITLs”) are unsure of which province to launch or recommence their legal career in. That is why in this blog post, we will examine the different licensing requirements of the major provinces in Canada that may assist ITLs in deciding which one compliments their experiences more.

British Columbia (“BC”).

The first step for ITLs to get licensed in BC is to complete a common law program at a Canadian law school and complete their National Committee on Accreditation (“NCA”) requirement. For information on completing NCAs, kindly click on this link. Consequently, they must complete the Law Society Admission Program that takes a period of 12 months. This program involves a 10-week Professional Legal Training Course (PLTC) examinations, and a 9-month articling period in a law firm or legal workplace. The PLTC essentially concentrates on building practical skills, ethics, and training for lawyers to use what has been taught in law school into practice. The examinations cover some of the core practice areas in which ITLs will be examined: business (commercial and company), real estate, wills, civil, criminal procedure, family, professionalism (ethics and practice management).

The final step in becoming a lawyer in BC is to apply for call and admission with the necessary documentation. Thereafter, new lawyers declare the barristers and solicitor’s oath in a call ceremony and become eligible to practice law in the province of BC. More information can be found on this link.

Alberta

Becoming a licensed lawyer in Alberta is a four-step process that begins with completing the NCA exams and obtaining a Certificate of Qualification. After this certificate is sent to the Law Society of Alberta, ITLs must apply for a student-at-law status. It is important to note that ITLs must secure an articling position before applying for the student-at-law status. The articling period can range from 8 to 12 months. 

Continue reading “Becoming a Licensed Lawyer in Canada: A Marathon, not a Sprint.”

 

Landing in a new country is always daunting. Especially for Internationally Trained Lawyers (ITLs), all of us landed here with our bags, hopes, dreams and a big eerily alive hook with a dot at its bottom asking us “what next, buddy?”. From finding accommodation, satisfying the NCA requirements and finding an articling position many such semantic figures float around in our minds at all times.

Continue reading “I’m here, what’s next?”

 

The ITL Network is seeking nominations for election of three (3) Directors to take office for a two-year period commencing from December 17, 2021. We are seeking nominees from across the country, from different backgrounds, various career stages and lawyers working in a range of roles and who demonstrate:

• Commitment to the vision, mission, and strategic objectives of the Network;
• Willingness and ability to commit time and resources to serve on the Board and its committees, participate during events and other strategic initiatives of the Network;
• Willingness to facilitate effective connections and discussions with individuals and organizations working on diversity, equity, and inclusion issues;
• Capability and willingness to hold a portfolio; and
• Commitment to attend Board meetings diligently, committee meetings and undertake other responsibilities as may be assigned by the Board.

Governance experience, including familiarity with Board processes will be an asset but not required.

Nominations must be received on or before 5:00pm ET December 9, 2021. To apply, please visit www.itlnetwork.ca/nominations

 

Introduction

There has been a lot of chatter about the proposed legislation regarding internationally trained skilled workers revealed by the news release dated October 21, 2021 in Ontario. However, given the limited information available on the subject at the moment, there isn’t a lot of clarity on what exactly this legislation will mean for ITLs once enacted.

So here, we attempt to understand the new guidelines, and the scope of their applicability on ITLs.

Proposed Law

After deliberation and much consultation with groups of industry leaders, immigrants, and faith communities, the Ontario Provincial Government is proposing a legislation to ease the transition of internationally trained newcomers into the Ontario workforce. This law, if passed, would be a first of its kind in Canada.

Continue reading “A New Dawn for ITLs in Ontario?”


(Calgary) October 18, 2021
– Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council (CRIEC) and The ITL Network proudly announce a new collaboration to support internationally trained lawyers (ITLs) in their career path journeys. This one-year agreement brings together local and international expertise to provide ITLs with much needed connections, learning opportunities and mentoring.

“We are excited about the opportunities we can jointly create for ITLs”, noted CRIEC Executive Director Bruce Randall. “We have been working with ITLs since 2012 and each year see more and more outstanding lawyers arriving in Calgary. There is room for all lawyers including those trained here in Canada and those trained abroad, whether in private practice, in-house, clinics or government. ITLs bring unique perspectives that enrich their local legal communities and indeed, Canadian society itself”.

According to the ITL Network’s President, Cynthia Okafor, “As many ITLs grapple with limited resources and opportunities, there is a growing need for mentorship, and we are more determined than ever to collaborate with community partners like CRIEC, to find effective solutions for ITLs in the Canadian legal sphere. We couldn’t be more excited to get to work and look forward to a successful relationship”.

CRIEC and ITL Network are developing workshops, experiential learning and mentoring opportunities to support ITLs. Further announcements on upcoming sessions are forthcoming.

Founded in 2020, ITL Network, a new Canadian federal not-for-profit organization, seeks to promote and foster diversity and inclusion in the Canadian legal market and assist ITLs, as well as international law graduates, through the licensure process. ITL Network looks to positively change the narrative and perception of ITLs within the Canadian legal landscape through networking and advocacy.

Founded in 2010, CRIEC, a robust Alberta not-for-profit organization, connects newcomer professionals, including ITLs, with Calgary mentors drawn from relevant industries, professions and sectors, in occupation-specific mentoring partnerships. These connections are designed to support newcomer professionals secure and retain career paths reflective of their education, training, experience and future aspirations.

CRIEC and ITL Network teaming up for success – helping ITLs and their local communities thrive.

For further details, please contact:

ITL Network: Arianna Carlotti (Director of Mentorship), ariannacarlotti@itlnetwork.ca ; Idayat Balogun (Director of NCA Affairs), idayat.balogun@itlnetwork.ca

Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council: Bruce Randall, Executive Director  bruce@criec.ca

 

 

Starting the licensing journey as an internationally trained lawyer in a new jurisdiction can be a nerve-racking ordeal. For experienced candidates, it can feel like starting a career from scratch given the various requirements they have to meet such as equivalency exams and courses. The need to foster a community to mentor and inspire internationally trained lawyers was the motivation behind the ITL Voices project! ITL Voices is a platform to mentor, inspire and support our diverse community of internationally trained lawyers and encourage them by shinning the spotlight on stories of legal professionals in Canada.

In our second edition of ITL Voices, a well-known guest joined us – Deborah Wolfe, the Executive Director of the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA). Most ITLs are familiar with her as the NCA is usually the first organization and the rite of passage to get licensed to practice in Canada. During the session we learnt an interesting fact about Ms. Wolfe, which is that she’s not a lawyer! She is a civil engineer who served as a former Military Engineer in the Canadian Armed Forces. She has previously worked with Engineers Canada, where she was responsible for accreditation of undergraduate engineering programs in Canada. Therefore, she has a wealth of experience in the accreditation and evaluation of foreign credentials.

Ms. Wolfe discussed the various options available to ITLs to satisfy their NCA assessments. After getting an evaluation, ITLs can either self-study and write their exams themselves or attend a Canadian law school that offers NCA courses or specific NCA programs. The law schools which offer specific NCA programs include the University of British Columbia, University of Alberta, University of Toronto, and Osgoode Hall Law School. It is important to note that some assessments may require ITLs to fulfill their requirements by going through a law school.

For ITLs from non-common law jurisdictions, Ms. Wolfe explained that the licensing process had been made easier for them through directed policies. If an ITL from a non-common law jurisdiction is a licensed paralegal or notary, they can take the NCA exams instead of attending a law school.  A popular question that has generated mixed reactions from internationally trained lawyers is the NCA’s shift to remotely proctored online exams. We asked Ms. Wolfe about this, and she clearly stated that the NCA would not be moving back to in-person written exams. She explained that online exams benefit both the NCA and candidates in terms of logistics and flexibility. ITLs can now write their exams from their home countries or anywhere in the world.

Ms. Wolfe also informed us that the NCA is introducing a Legal Research and Writing competency requirement for ITLs that get their assessment from January 1, 2022. She emphasized the necessity of this additional requirement because ITLs come from various jurisdiction where the standards and methods of legal research and writing may differ. We understand there have been different feelings about these developments, so we would love to know how you feel about them under this blog post!

We had an enlightening experience learning about the licensing process and the new assessment requirement from Ms. Wolfe. ITL Voices will bring many more amazing guests in the coming weeks, so make sure you stay tuned to our blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

By: Christianah Adeyemi

 

 

 

September 30 is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and an opportunity to recognize and commemorate the legacy of residential schools and honour the Call to Actions from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

A federal statutory holiday was created by Parliament after the discovery of approximately 200 burial sites on a former residential school in British Columbia. Weeks later, a preliminary finding of 751 unmarked graves at a cemetery near the former Marieval Indian Residential School was found. Since then, more than 300 other potential burial sites have been identified, and searches are underway at sites across Canada. While the discoveries have shocked many and led to an outpouring of grief and news coverage globally, Indigenous people and advocates say it had long been known and talked about that some of the children who were removed from their families and forced to attend residential schools never made it back home.

While September 30th has been observed as Orange Shirt Day since 2013, the timing of this day further reinforces the significance of reconciliation as Indigenous children were removed from their families around this time of the year and forced to attend the residential schools. This is an opportunity for us to reflect, listen and learn. It should be used as a day to honour those impacted by the residential school system and further learn the indigenous culture and perspectives. Reconciliation may mean being open to challenging and sometimes uncomfortable conversations, and the ITL Network recommends to all members of the Internationally Trained Lawyers community to take this day as an opportunity to listen, learn, reflect, and act on the calls to action of the truth and reconciliation commission.

Below is a list of recommended resources to get started:

Indigenous Canada Coursehttps://www.coursera.org/learn/indigenous-canada
Indigenous Canada is a 12-lesson Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) from the Faculty of Native Studies that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada. This course is offered by the university of Alberta, and you can register for free.

Canada Residential School Historyhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFbLMNgTXeI

Hon. Murray Sinclair – Impacts of Residential Schoolshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPPHdKC_ZA8

We are all treaty people – Learn the history of the land you are on – Check out: native-land.ca and whose.landland back resources and Yellowhead Institute.org