US-born and -trained in Canadian law

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
overbroad99
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Sep 13, 2011 1:14 pm

US-born and -trained in Canadian law

Postby overbroad99 » Sun Oct 20, 2013 7:29 pm

I've been thinking about moving to Canada. Is it possible for a person like myself, born and educated entirely in the States and with no ties to Canada whatsoever, to get hired by a Canadian firm? I'd be looking for entry-level positions, I'm still clerking. For what it's worth I have very good credentials down the line but I don't know if those would even translate to the Canadian market. Like if I started calling Vancouver law firms would they just hang up on me?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273200
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: US-born and -trained in Canadian law

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 20, 2013 8:19 pm

overbroad99 wrote:I've been thinking about moving to Canada. Is it possible for a person like myself, born and educated entirely in the States and with no ties to Canada whatsoever, to get hired by a Canadian firm? I'd be looking for entry-level positions, I'm still clerking. For what it's worth I have very good credentials down the line but I don't know if those would even translate to the Canadian market. Like if I started calling Vancouver law firms would they just hang up on me?


I'm a Canadian going to a US law school.

Things to keep in mind about practicing in Canada:

1. You will need to convert your US JD to meet Canadian standards. This means that you will have to take several exams. Typically, for most people, this takes about 1 year. The most straightforward way to do it is to enroll in a Canadian law school just for select courses. From the top of my head, you'll need to take Constitutional Law and Civil Procedure, as they are different in Canada. You can also study for the exams by yourself, which is fine and something many do.

2. The salaries for lawyers are lower in Canada. Toronto is the largest legal market in Canada -- it's nearly the size of Chicago, and since it is the economic hub of a G8 economy, you'd work long hours and do complex work. But starting salary for associates is $80,000 - $100,000 Canadian dollars. You'll make less in Vancouver -- perhaps $70,000 - $80,000. However, the legal market is slightly better in Canada than the US in the sense that more grads land jobs, but that is largely a function of the low number of law schools in Canada.

3. You can't practice in Quebec, as you'd need to know Civil Law and French.

4. You have to do one year of 'articling' -- it's kind of like job shadowing an actual lawyer and working for them. The pay is modest (approx. $40,000).

While all of those are somewhat negative considerations to keep in mind, Canada is an amazing country and you can lead a very fulfilling life there. Just keep in mind that it's not an easy transition; you'll need to do two more years of studying / articling.

Also, if you are applying to a law firm in Canada that practices US law, it's nearly impossible to get a job. You'd pretty much have to target Toronto (for the most part, US law firms don't set up anywhere else), and the firms have like 10 attorneys total. With all my connections to the city, I didn't get any bites. So practicing US law in Canada is definitely not something you should count on.

edit -- on the positive side: it's very easy to immigrate to Canada. The US is generally considered immigration-friendly, but it's much harder to immigrate to the US than Canada.

User avatar
mr. wednesday
Posts: 406
Joined: Sun Sep 01, 2013 1:15 am

Re: US-born and -trained in Canadian law

Postby mr. wednesday » Sun Oct 20, 2013 8:22 pm

You can't just take a bar in Canada. You'd have to take a year or more of law school there, then article, before you qualify to be a Canadian attorney. If you want to move there, your best bet is a US firm with a Canadian office, but that is still a long shot. That's before the immigration issue, too. It's not like Americans can just pick up and start working in Canada.

Why do you want to move to Vancouver with no ties? Do you have any experience there at all or with Canadian law? If it's just a culture thing, just move to Seattle. It'll be close enough.

User avatar
crazycanuck
Posts: 3039
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:04 pm

Re: US-born and -trained in Canadian law

Postby crazycanuck » Mon Oct 21, 2013 12:30 am

A good place to ask this question is http://www.lawstudents.ca there's probably someone there who has some more info on this topic. There's also salary info for different markets, as well as how many people were hired, etc.

Generally you will need a T14 at least to get firms to listen, otherwise they will likely just go with students from the local schools (UBC and UVic). Good luck! Vancouver is an amazing city to live in.

Here's the thread about vancouver salaries/billables etc.

http://lawstudents.ca/forums/topic/2697 ... 2-02-2013/

Most of the biglaw firms in Van pay 80-90K with required billables in the 1500-1700 range. I have a friend who works in biglaw here and last year he billed 1650ish and got paid 90Kish. The superstar in his office billed 1900 hours. It's not bad at all.




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.