Living in Canada after you have completed your Master of Laws studies can lead to an exciting and rewarding career and an excellent quality of life.
Canada is a vast and diverse country with plenty to offer former LLM students and in this blog we’re going to take a look at the post-LLM career options available to international students in this country.
Right to remain in Canada
Most LLM students will be able to extend their student visa to work in Canada for sometime after their student visa has expired. This is known as the Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWT) and will make it easier for you to gain the experience necessary to then apply for permanent residence. The PGWT costs $255 CAD and can take up to 150 days to process. There is plenty of information on the Canadian Government's student visa information pages.
Opportunities for foreign lawyers in Canada
There are many avenues for foreign-trained lawyers to consider in Canada. Many Canadian cities have large populations of recent immigrants from all over the world, and these people need legal help and advice when dealing with their home countries, as does the Canadian Government and international corporations. Foreign-trained lawyers must pass an assessment run by the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA) who then inform the lawyer what Canadian Law courses they must take to gain a pass or if they must complete a Canadian LLB instead.
LLMs for foreign lawyers
Most law schools in Canada offer LLM programs specifically for foreign-trained lawyers to gain the skills necessary to pass the NCA exams and Provincial Bar Exams, for example Osgoode Law School offers an LLM program in Canadian Common Law. Foreign-trained lawyers should be careful as not all LLM programs in Canada are designed for students to pass the NCA exams. The University of Toronto offers a range of LLM programs and have designed some for foreign-trained lawyers – such as the Global Professional LLM with a concentration in Canadian Law in a Global Context – but others are not designed for foreign-trained lawyers, so make sure you choose the right option for you.
How do Canadian law firms recruit?
Canadian law firms tend to recruit directly from law and LLM programs and through events held by law schools. They are usually looking to recruit well-rounded graduates with a good range of skills, who will broaden the outlook and diversity of their firm. This is all to the advantage of foreign-trained lawyers, and if you speak a couple of languages and can offer a unique view of the law, then you will be a great asset to many Canadian law firms. Canadian law schools are also looking for students with excellent grades who also participated in the social life of the law school. The key to success is to network whilst studying your LLM program to gain an understanding of the culture of the different law firms you are interested in and attend every event that you can.
Legal job prospects in Canada
There are plenty of opportunities in Canada for foreign-trained lawyers. With a diverse population from all over the world, there is always the need for legal experts who speak different languages to help support new Canadian residents. The pay for associate lawyers is also very rewarding as this table illustrates.
This table provides a breakdown of associate lawyers’ pay in 2018, which gives some indication as to the salary you could aspect in this field in Canada.