An American law degree is a professional, graduate-level degree.
- Using a Law Degree in the US A law degree from Suffolk Law School allows you to sit for the bar in any US state. If approved by that state's bar examiners, you are eligible to practice law in that state.
- Using a US Law Degree in Canada To practice Canadian law in Canada, US-trained lawyers must apply to the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA) and to the law society in the province or territory where you want to practice law. US-trained lawyers may practice US law in Canada if granted a permit as a regional legal consultant from a provincial law society.
Applying to Law School
- You are eligible to apply to a US law school with an undergraduate degree from a Canadian college or university, no matter what you studied.
- At Suffolk Law, Canadian applicants are eligible for merit-based scholarship awards.
Studying in the US
A law degree from Suffolk Law School allows you to sit for the bar in any US state. If approved by that state's bar examiners, you are eligible to practice law in that state.
Canadian students may participate in most internships (those which do not require US citizenship) through curricular practical training and may work up to 12 months after graduation through occupational practical training.
Being a Lawyer in Canada
To practice Canadian law in Canada, US-trained lawyers must apply for a Certificate of Qualification from the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA). The Certificate of Qualification confirms that you have education and training equivalent to graduates from an approved Canadian law school. The NCA assesses each applicant and advises what he or she needs to do to obtain a Certificate of Qualification. Candidates can complete the requirements either by writing challenge exams or taking courses in a Canadian law school.
Once you obtain a Certificate of Qualification, you must complete the bar admission requirements for the law society that governs the province where you wish to practice. In Ontario, you must complete the licensing process of the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC). This includes writing the barrister licensing exam, the solicitor licensing exam and attending a Skills and Professional Responsibility program. After this, applicants to the LSUC will either have to article for a period of 10 months, be granted an articling abridgement, or immediately be eligible to be called to the Bar in Ontario.
Note that there is a separate process for US lawyers who wish to practice US law in Canada. In that case, you apply for a permit as a regional legal consultant from a provincial law society.
For answers to frequently asked questions, visit the NCA FAQ page.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Do I Need to Apply to the National Committee on Accreditation?
To apply for an assessment from the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA), you need:
- Online application form and fee payment (currently $450 Canadian, plus taxes)
- Final official transcript from undergraduate and graduate (non-legal) institutions
- Final official transcript from law school
- If you are admitted to practice law in any jurisidiction, provide a certificate or letter of membership in good standing.
What substantive law does the NCA usually require?
The NCA assessments focus on the core common law subjects in which applicants must demonstrate competence: contracts; torts; property; business organizations, Canadian administrative law, Canadian constitutional law, Canadian criminal law, foundations of Canadian law, and professional responsibility.
What is articling and will I need to do it?
Articling is a supervised apprenticeship period after law school graduation when students get experiential training in a law firm with the main focus on education and training.
Provincial law societies in Canada may require experiential training before they will grant a license to practice law. In Ontario, for example, the requirement of experiential training may be fulfilled by articling with a law firm for 10 months or less, or by prior legal experience as a lawyer in a common-law jurisdiction.
If I get a Certificate of Qualification from the NCA, am I admitted to the bar?
No. The rules and regulations for admission to practise law in Canada are set by the provincial and territorial law societies. Information about the Bar admissions process can be obtained directly from each law society. The Certificate of Qualification is an essential preliminary step in the education and training program for admission into a law society outside of Quebec. In short, if you did not graduate from a common law degree program in Canada, the Certificate of Qualification is the first step to applying to a law society and becoming a licensed lawyer.