Some info from a JFCY volunteer…

This post was written by JFCY PLE Team volunteer Lina Maria Sanchez.  The views and explanation of the NCA process are those of Lina Maria and not JFCY.

Lina Maria is 26 years old. She is from Colombia, South America and she came to Canada one year ago as a refugee claimant.

Lina Maria is a lawyer in her native country and she also studied two post-graduate degrees (procedural and contracts law). Despite this, she has had difficulty in finding a job in her educational field.

She applied for an equivalent study in an International Credential Institution and she got as a result that her studies in Colombia are equivalent in Canada to a bachelor degree and two post-bachelor degrees, but it is not enough because the law system in Colombia is Civil Law and in Canadathe law system is common law. Therefore, many people told to her that if she wants to practice law in Canada, she should go back to law school.

Lina Maria, cannot believe that she studied for eight years and now she can feels like that time spent is a waste.  Consequently, she has been looking more information and she found another option.

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada ( offers an option to practice in the legal profession in Canada, for the individuals with a legal educational credentials and professional experience that was obtained outside of Canada.

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada has a standing committee, called the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA), which assesses the credentials and experience of foreign-trained lawyers and can award a Certificate of Qualification, which is required for most law societies in Canada to admit foreign-trained lawyers to their bar  or law society.

The first stage is an assessment which is done before one may apply for admission to a law society in a Canadian common law jurisdiction. The assessment is based on the academic and professional profile of each applicant.

Once a file is assessed by the NCA, an applicant may be asked to complete one or more exams and/or attend and complete specific law school courses within a prescribed time frame.

Is important to known that lawyers from any country can apply for the assessment, but there are differences between credentials from civil law and common law countries. The lawyer does not have to be a Canadian resident or Citizen.

People with credentials from common law countries and those people can apply directly for the NCA assessment and then, depending on the professional profile they may need to submit and pass some exams or attend and pass some law school courses.

On the other hand, lawyers such as a Lina Maria, who studied in a country with civil law system, need to take some courses in a law school, such a Canadian Constitutional law, criminal law, administrative law, tort law, before applying for the NCA assessment. There are some universities in Ontario that offer specific programs Internationally Trained Lawyer Programs in order to facilitate this process.

After reviewing an application, the NCA will issue an assessment report to the applicant listing the subjects and/or legal education that is required to ensure that the applicant’s legal education and training is equivalent to that provided by an approved law school in Canada. 

If Lina Maria obtains the NCA assessment and wishes to obtain an NCA Certificate of Qualification, she could be required to demonstrate competence in a number of subjects.

Lina Maria may demonstrate competence in one of three ways:

  1. successful completion of NCA examinations;

  2. by registering as a special student in a Canadian common law degree program and successfully completing the assigned subjects as part of your program of studies;

  3. a combination of (1) and (2).

After an applicant has successfully completed the NCA requirements, the applicant must request a Certificate of Qualification. Common Law societies in Canadanormally accept the NCA’s Certificate of Qualifications for entry to their Bar admission process[1]

In conclusion, although it has not been easy for Lina Maria to practice her profession in Canada and it may take her around three years to complete the requirements (complete law school courses, NCA assessment, NCA exams and/or completing the assigned subjects as part of the program of studies in a law degree and the NCA Certificate of Qualification), she feels the extra effort is worth it and certainly better than wasting the eight years of study that she already completed her native country of Columbia.

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This post was written by JFCY PLE Team volunteer Lina Maria Sanchez.  The views and explanation of the NCA process are those of Lina Maria and not JFCY.