How to Become a Lawyer in BC

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British Columbia is the westernmost province of Canada. According to the Law Society of BC, British Columbia has more than 10,000 lawyers serving a population of four million residents. Lawyers in BC have a potentially easier time breaking into the market than their counterparts in the United States, where there is far more competition. However, the provincial government of BC requires various amounts of training and certification from individuals who want to become a lawyer. Learn how to navigate the various government forms and requirements to become a lawyer in BC.

Choose the type of lawyer that you would like to become in British Columbia. Under British Columbia's provincial regulations, BC lawyers are technically qualified to practice as both barristers (individuals who work as court counsel) and solicitors (individuals who provide document preparation services with personal clients). An individual who wishes to practice in BC should choose the field in which he or she would like to work before pursuing certification.

Determine how you plan to apply for legal certification to become a lawyer in BC. How you apply depends on your current standing. If you have practiced law in BC before, you will be applying for reinstatement. If you practiced law outside of the province, you must apply to have your credentials transferred. If you have never practiced law in BC or outside of the province, you must apply as a first-time applicant to be called to the bar.

Complete the BC Law Society's Admission Program if you are a first-time applicant. If you are applying to have your law credentials transferred from out-of-province, see Step 5. If you are applying for reinstatement and have practiced law in British Columbia before, see Step 4. If you are a first-time applicant, the BC Law Society's Admission Program requires you to undergo approximately 12 months of training, seminars and practicum service. To be admitted, the interested individual must also possess a Law degree from a recognized Canadian university (e.g., the University of Toronto) or hold a Certificate of Qualification produced by the National Committee on Accreditation. (links to additional information regarding the admission requirements or the NCA certificate are listed in the Resources section below.)

Contact the BC Law Society to request a transfer of your legal credentials to the province of British Columbia if you are a practicing lawyer in a province other than BC. The process of transferring law credentials falls under the legislation of Canada's National Mobility Agreement (NMA). Your eligibility under the NMA depends on whether your home province has entered into an NMA with British Columbia. If eligible, you must complete a variety of tests and examinations to prove that you have a detailed understanding of BC's local laws and legal regulations.

Apply for law membership reinstatement if you previously practiced law in BC but have since retired or exited the law profession for an extended period of time. Depending on the amount of time you have been absent from the active, practicing field, you may need to take a recertification test. The BC Law Society will review your profile and file to determine what specific qualifications you must meet to be reinstated as a practicing lawyer in BC.