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Law Society of Upper Canada

The Law Society of Upper Canada (Law Society) is the governing body for lawyers and paralegals in Ontario. The Office of the Fairness Commissioner (OFC) oversees the registration practices of the Law Society to ensure that they are transparent, objective, impartial and fair for anyone who wants to practise as a lawyer or paralegal in this province.

Registration Practices Assessment Report

(Lawyers, 2014) (Paralegals, 2011)

Reports / Applications

2015

Fair Registration Practices (FRP) Report, 2015 (Lawyers)

Fair Registration Practices (FRP) Report, 2015 (Paralegals)

Applications to Practise as Lawyers Processed by the Law Society in 2015
Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 Jurisdiction Where Applicants Received Their Training Total
Ontario Other Canadian Provinces USA Other International Unknown
New applications received1,4492979649402,336
Applicants who became members1,3312701061063862,199
Applications to Practise as Paralegals Processed by the Law Society in 2015
Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 Jurisdiction Where Applicants Received Their Training Total
Ontario Other Canadian Provinces USA Other International Unknown
New applications received1,45100001,451
Applicants who became members1,37100001,371

2014

Fair Registration Practices (FRP) Report, 2014 (Lawyers)

Fair Registration Practices (FRP) Report, 2014 (Paralegals)

Applications to Practise as Lawyers Processed by the Law Society in 2014
Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 Jurisdiction Where Applicants Received Their Training Total
Ontario Other Canadian Provinces USA Other International Unknown
New applications received1,647869551602,344
Applicants who became members1,505969928101,981
Applications to Practise as Paralegals Processed by the Law Society in 2014
Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 Jurisdiction Where Applicants Received Their Training Total
Ontario Other Canadian Provinces USA Other International Unknown
New applications received1,56300001,563
Applicants who became members1,15400001,154

2013

Fair Registration Practices (FRP) Report, 2013 (Lawyers)

Fair Registration Practices (FRP) Report, 2013 (Paralegals)

Applications to Practise as Lawyers Processed by the Law Society in 2013
Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 Jurisdiction Where Applicants Received Their Training Total
Ontario Other Canadian Provinces USA Other International Unknown
New applications received1,61810511641602,255
Applicants who became members1,49410410628501,989
Applications to Practise as Paralegals Processed by the Law Society in 2013
Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 Jurisdiction Where Applicants Received Their Training Total
Ontario Other Canadian Provinces USA Other International Unknown
New applications received1,57600001,576
Applicants who became members1,32900001,329

2012

Fair Registration Practices (FRP) Report, 2012 (Lawyers)

Fair Registration Practices (FRP) Report, 2012 (Paralegals)

Applications to Practise as Lawyers Processed by the Law Society in 2012
Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 Jurisdiction Where Applicants Received Their Training Total
Ontario Other Canadian Provinces USA Other International Unknown
New applications received1,55711311534602,131
Applicants who became members1,4281119423501,868
Applications to Practise as Paralegals Processed by the Law Society in 2012
Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 Jurisdiction Where Applicants Received Their Training Total
Ontario Other Canadian Provinces USA Other International Unknown
New applications received1,24500001,245
Applicants who became members1,04900001,049

2011

Fair Registration Practices (FRP) Report, 2011 (Lawyers)

Fair Registration Practices (FRP) Report, 2011 (Paralegals)

Report on Entry-to-Practice Review, 2011

Registration Practices Assessment Report — Summary (Lawyers)

Applications to Practise as Lawyers Processed by the Law Society in 2011
Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 Jurisdiction Where Applicants Received Their Training Total
Ontario Other Canadian Provinces USA Other International Unknown
New applications received1,5703910526601,980
Applicants who became members1,3711275015001,698
Applications to Practise as Paralegals Processed by the Law Society in 2011
Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 Jurisdiction Where Applicants Received Their Training Total
Ontario Other Canadian Provinces USA Other International Unknown
New applications received1,48900001,489
Applicants who became members7510000751

2010

Fair Registration Practices (FRP) Report, 2010 (Lawyers)

Fair Registration Practices (FRP) Report, 2010 (Paralegals)

For a description of all OFC-monitored developments for this profession for 2010, see the 2009-2010 Annual Report.

Applications to Practise as Lawyers Processed by the Law Society in 2010
Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 Jurisdiction Where Applicants Received Their Training Total
Ontario Other Canadian Provinces USA Other International Unknown
New applications received1,515927623301,916
Applicants who became members1,358865212601,622
Applications to Practise as Paralegals Processed by the Law Society in 2010
Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 Jurisdiction Where Applicants Received Their Training Total
Ontario Other Canadian Provinces USA Other International Unknown
New applications received1,07500001,075
Applicants who became members8300000830

2009

Fair Registration Practices (FRP) Report, 2009 (Lawyers)

Fair Registration Practices (FRP) Report, 2009 (Paralegals)

Audit Report

In a July 2009 guide to help regulators conduct reviews of their entry-to-practice requirements, the OFC drew attention to certain promising practices of the Law Society:

Articling: The Task Force of the Federation of Law Societies of Upper Canada recommended allowing candidates to apply for an exemption from the Articling Program if they have a common law degree and have practiced law in a common law jurisdiction, with 10 months or more of legal experience in a non-common-law jurisdiction. The Law Society adopted the recommendation. Exempted candidates must take the three-day course on professional conduct and practice in Ontario.

National Committee on Accreditation (NCA): The Federation of Law Societies of Canada made changes to the NCA, including the following:

  • moving from the University of Ottawa to help ensure objectivity
  • hiring new management and staff
  • reducing (to four) the number of standard challenge exams that all applicants must write and pass
  • completely revamping the NCA's website to explain more clearly the policies, processes and procedures of the NCA's requirements, evaluations and assessments

Paralegals: Applications to the paralegal profession increased from 333 in 2008 to 551 in 2009. Of these 551 applicants in 2009, 415 became members of the profession in 2009 – a one-year registration rate of 75 per cent.

This profession does not register internationally educated individuals, and 100 per cent of its membership increase in 2009 is attributed to Ontario applicants who became members.

For a description of all OFC-monitored developments for this profession for 2009, see the 2009-2010 Annual Report.

Applications to Practise as Lawyers Processed by the Law Society in 2009
Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 Jurisdiction Where Applicants Received Their Training Total
Ontario Other Canadian Provinces USA Other International Unknown
New applications received1,4612337115n/a1,636
Applicants who became members1,328973782n/a1,544

n/a = not available

Applications to Practise as Paralegals Processed by the Law Society in 2009
Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 Jurisdiction Where Applicants Received Their Training Total
Ontario Other Canadian Provinces USA Other International Unknown
New applications received551n/an/an/an/a551
Applicants who became members415n/an/an/an/a415

n/a = not available

2008

Fair Registration Practices (FRP) Report, 2008 (Lawyers)

Fair Registration Practices (FRP) Report, 2008 (Paralegals)

The OFC was invited to participate in the consultations of the Law Society's licensing and accreditation task force (see above), and provided written comments.

The task force recommended that the Law Society retain its 10-month articling requirement for all candidates except internationally trained candidates who had been called to the bar in a common law jurisdiction and who had at least 10 months of practice experience that addresses the society's articling competencies. The task force further recommended that these candidates still be required to complete an intensive three-day professional conduct course.

The task force also recommended the development of a new professional responsibility and practice course to be integrated with the articling program. The adoption of this recommendation will shorten the licensing process by four weeks for candidates who must meet the articling requirement, since it eliminates a separate, four-week course that all candidates were previously required to take before articling, if they could not demonstrate a minimum of seven years of practice in a common law jurisdiction.

Successful completion of the new professional responsibility and practice course, the articling requirement and the current licensing examinations make up the society's new requirements for admission to the bar.

The Law Society is also developing a voluntary bridging program for internationally trained lawyers.

In addition to those changes, the National Committee on Accreditation, the agency the Law Society relies on to assess the qualifications of internationally trained lawyers, is permitting applicants with common law LLB and/or JD degrees, who were assessed before March 1, 2009, to request a review of their file based on new rules for evaluating foreign common law programs. Only current and valid assessment decisions will be considered.

Applications to Practise as Lawyers Processed by the Law Society in 2008
Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 Jurisdiction Where Applicants Received Their Training Total
Ontario Other Canadian Provinces USA Other International Unknown
New applications received1,41812188201,530
Applicants who became members1,29226267601,420
Applications to Practise as Paralegals Processed by the Law Society in 2008
Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 Jurisdiction Where Applicants Received Their Training Total
Ontario Other Canadian Provinces USA Other International Unknown
New applications received333n/an/an/an/a333
Applicants who became members192n/an/an/an/a192

n/a = not available

2007


During the fall and winter of 2007-2008, the OFC undertook a study of the Law Society to understand its 2007 registration practices and establish baseline data and information. PDF

Exemplary Practices

The OFC gathers regulatory bodies' exemplary licensing practices so that they may learn from one another. Practices for the Law Society of Upper Canada are listed below.

  1. Assisting applicants in financial need

    This program provides lawyer applicants who have demonstrated...

  2. Ensuring objective and impartial assessments

    This practice is of interest to applicants and regulators...

  3. Identifying policies and procedures for accommodation of applicants

    These practices collectively ensure that policies and...

  4. Offering abridgements, exemptions and alternatives to the practical experience requirement

    This practice offers applicants alternatives to meeting...


Quick Facts

LawyersParalegals
Number of Lawyers / Paralegals54,5737,506
Number of Internationally Trained Lawyers / Paralegals3,0710

You may find information about exam requirements and Canadian work experience requirements elsewhere on this site.


Location of Training, 2015

LawyersParalegals
Ontario43,0987,506
Other Canadian Provinces8,0730
USA00
Other International3,0710
Unknown3310
Total54,5737,506
Proportion of Internationally Trained Members (includes USA)6%0%

The Top Five Source Countries For Internationally Trained Lawyers, 2015

Largest NumberU.K.
Second Largest NumberAustralia
Third Largest NumberIndia
Fourth Largest NumberNigeria
Fifth Largest NumberPakistan
Number of Applicants428

The Law Society of Upper Canada falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Attorney General. The OFC does not assess credentials, handle complaints or intervene in particular cases. Our mandate is one of systemic change. Please contact the Law Society for further information about your ability to practise as a lawyer or paralegal in Ontario.

Action

In recent years, many internationally trained law applicants have been unable to get over the hurdles set by the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA) – the body that sets the standards for licensing in the legal profession across Canada.

An increasing number of Canadians are going abroad to study law. In an effort to meet Canadian standards, some international schools offer courses in Canadian law, some of them online. But the NCA does not recognize many of these international courses, for reasons that are unclear. The NCA should have clear and transparent criteria for determining the courses it recognizes.

The OFC has pointed out that the Law Society of Upper Canada has a responsibility to ensure that its qualifications assessment agency, the NCA, clearly and transparently communicates to applicants the criteria it uses to evaluate international education.

July 2013