The $6,000 legal brain gain

Many foreign-trained lawyers want to work in Canada, but there are challenges to making the jump

By Todd Harrison

On Monday August 30th, 2010

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Are we on the cusp on a “brain gain”? Given the state of the U.S. legal job market, it would hardly be surprising to see some American lawyers coming to Canada in search of work. But they’ll have to jump through a few hoops before they can begin their practice.

Yesterday, in a post on Slaw about a recent uptick in the number of U.S. medical professionals moving to Canada, Omar Ha-Redeye wondered rhetorically about whether this trend might soon extend to lawyers. “Unlike the U.S., we haven’t had massive lay-offs of lawyers from major law firms,” he writes. Canadian recruiters I’ve spoken to have described more of a massive hiring slow-down. But could some of these hires be American counsel seeking greener pasture north of the border?”

Linelle Mogado surely hopes so. After graduating from Northeastern University’s law program and being admitted to the California bar, Mogado moved to Canada. According to a first-person account posted yesterday on Law is Cool, the Ontario-lawyer-to-be has spent the last two and a half years navigating the channels set up for international lawyers to be called to the bar in this province. Mogado writes that the process, which includes numerous forms, exams, and a three-day “Professional Conduct and Practice in Ontario” course, has cost more than $6,000 and will hopefully end with the Call to the Bar ceremony in January 2011. (The Articling Requirement was waived in Mogado’s case; international lawyers can ask that the Law Society consider their professional experience in lieu of an articling year.)

Mogado’s post is worth a read — it breaks down, in detail, exactly what a U.S. lawyer needs to do (and how much it will cost) to be eligible to practice in Ontario.


Photo by Saeed Jahed