Corporate lawyers often have interesting work and have high earning potential, but the road to get there is a long and the journey arduous. You'll need six to seven years of formal education if you want to become a Canadian corporate lawyer, plus you'll need to fulfill the articling requirements and pass the bar exam for your province. Most young corporate lawyers work very long hours once they've made it through the educational system. If you're not sure about your career direction, consider some job shadowing first before you dig yous heels in and find the funds to make it through law school.
Earn a four-year honors degree in any subject that interests you. Although some students get into law school with just a two or three-year degree, competition is fierce and students who complete a four-year bachelor's degree program first stand the best chance of getting in. Most Canadian law schools recommend that you consider your bachelor's degree as an end in itself. Select a field that opens other interesting career doors for you if you decide law school isn't for you, or if you can't get admission. Whatever undergraduate program you choose, take courses that will help you to develop solid reading, writing and analysis skills, as recommended by the University of Western Ontario.
Study for and write the LSAT, the Legal Studies Aptitude Test. The LSAT will test your critical reasoning, reading and argumentative writing abilities. Prepare by taking free tests online and by seeking out resources from your undergraduate university's career services department. They often run free test prep sessions and seminars. For an extra boost, try a popular pay-for test preparation services, such as Oxford Seminars.
Investigate law schools and apply to the schools of your choice. Some schools in Canada offer JD (Juris Doctor) degrees, while others graduate students with LLB (Bachelor of Laws) degrees. While both offer promising employment opportunities, Canadian law student blogger Adam Letourneau says that the JD makes students more attractive in the US market. Many Canadian universities offer a combined law degree/MBA. Although tacking an MBA onto your degree adds a fourth year onto your legal education, you'll be more prepared to take on the challenges of corporate law when you graduate.
Apply for legal internships, especially in your second and third year of study. Go to big corporate law firms in Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver for summer work to get experience and get your foot in the door. You won't be doing much more than shuffling paper, but using your summers to get an "in" for your articling year is important. Often, representatives from large corporate law firms will pay visits to law schools. Make sure you attend these events and schmooze with the visitors.
After you graduate, select a placement for doing your articling. Articling is the brief period of real-world legal work that you do under the supervision of licensed lawyers, before you're called to the bar and made a lawyer in your own right. If you used your summers well, chances are you already know some firms that will take you on. Requirements vary from province to province, but most provincial bar associations require about a year of articling, according to Athabasca University.
Study for your bar exam while completing your articling. The bar exam varies from province to province, but all bar exams will ask you ethical questions, questions about maintaining a client-lawyer relationship and of course, questions that prove your knowledge of the law. Often, bar associations offer materials to help you prepare, so check the bar association website for your province. Once you've completed your bar exam, you're a lawyer. With your corporate internships and articling experience, you're a competitive candidate to fill positions at Toronto's Bay St. firms.
If you know any corporate lawyers, shadow them while in high school or completing your undergraduate studies. rnIf your university has a co-op or internship program, watch out for opportunities at law firms. Sometimes, big firms will offer clerical work to undergraduates, giving you the opportunity to see what corporate law is like.