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Foreign-Trained Lawyers Moving to Canada Are Not Travelling “Light”

Meeting of foreign colleagues

What skills are transferable for lawyers from other jurisdictions coming to Canada?

When a foreign-trained lawyer comes to Canada, they bring with them many important skills that are built while practicing law in another jurisdiction. In many ways, a foreign-trained lawyer will possess highly similar skills to a Canadian-trained lawyer because the role of a lawyer involves strong legal research, writing and oral advocacy skills regardless of the origin of training and practice. 

However, a foreign-trained lawyer cannot begin practicing law in Canada immediately and must apply for accreditation. This is no easy undertaking and in Ontario can involve accreditation examinations, Bar examinations and an articling placement.

The transferability of a foreign-trained lawyer’s skills can also include their ethical practice of law. In India, for example, the Bar Council Rules mirror some of the Law Society of Ontario’s Rules of Professional Conduct.1 An Indian lawyer is obliged to avoid conflicts of interest, maintain confidentiality, and act selflessly in the same way that Ontario lawyers are. These kinds of similarities are rooted in the principles of law which can transcend borders and are common in most countries rooted in British common law.

When lawyers come to Canada from another jurisdiction they also often speak a second language, if not multiple additional languages, which improves their ability to serve Canada’s diverse communities.

It is ultimately not uncommon for foreign-trained lawyers to make the jump to the practice of Canadian law and find great success. The Federation of Law Societies of Canada issues more than 1,000 Certificates of Qualification each year.2 In 2015, approximately 30% of lawyers admitted to the bar in Ontario were trained in another country.3



1 Bhan, Rohatgi, and Narendran, “Regulation of the Legal Profession in India: Overview” (April 2021) Thomson Reuters Practical Law UK:
2 Mitchelmore, Kara, “We Must Remove Barriers for Foreign-Trained Lawyers” (September 2020) The Canadian Bar Association, Law Matters:
3 Millar and Hall, “Regulation of the Legal Profession in Canada: Overview” (June 2021) Thomson Reuters Practical Law UK: