Many aspiring lawyers are unaware of how to become a lawyer in Alberta. Here you will learn about the process of qualification in Alberta. It is important to recognize that the first stage of the qualification may be the same as in other provinces, but the second stage is different.
Requirements: Stage 1 of How to Become a Lawyer in Alberta
It is often that this first step will be the same across Canada and in every province.
High School Diploma
Like with many professional qualifications, your required list of credentials starts with a secondary school diploma. You must have one in order to progress to the next stages.
In order to attend any Canadian law school, you must have a bachelor’s degree. There are some exceptions but generally, you will need at least an undergraduate degree to apply to a law school.
Canadian law schools require applicants to submit their Law School Admission Test (LSAT) results. It is often that your chances of admission to law school will be based on your LSAT score.
One of the most known requirements to become a lawyer in Alberta, and elsewhere, is a law degree (Juris Doctor/JD). Whether your degree is from Alberta, other parts of Canada, or from abroad you will be eligible to qualify as a lawyer. If your legal qualification is from another country you must make sure that it is recognized by the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA). As in other provinces, you must apply to common law school through the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC).
Find out about options to finish law school in 2 years with a Senior Status LLB in the UK.
Law Schools in Alberta
Most post-secondary institutions, including any law school, will require you to submit a personal statement, resume, letters of recommendation, and academic transcripts with your application form. There are 2 law schools in Alberta if you plan to study law in this province:
Requirements: Stage 2 of How to Become a Lawyer in Alberta
This second step of qualifying as a lawyer in Alberta is unique to this province and different from other Canadian regions.
The Western Canada province of Alberta shares 10,000 of Canada’s 130,000 legal professionals. 500 articling positions fall under the mentorship of those qualified as indicated by Alberta’s Law Society. This part will outline the licensing process in Alberta. In Alberta you must complete:
- Practice Readiness Education Program (PREP)
- 12-month long articling placement/clerkship
Practice Readiness Education Program
The Law Society of Alberta requires candidates are obliged to complete the Practice Readiness Education Program (PREP), which is part of the Bar Admission Course/Program. This is also a licensing requirement in the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Here are the main features of this course:
- It is regulated by the Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education and runs twice a year, starting either in June or December;
- ‘Lawyer Skills’, ‘Practice and Skills Management’ and ‘Professional Ethics and Character’ are what comprise the theoretical side of the course known as Foundation Modules;
- They are followed by Foundation Workshops allowing students to develop interpersonal skills and advocacy;
- The penultimate step of the course is the so-called Virtual Law Firm offering supplementary activities and coaching; and
- The final stage of PREP is named ‘Capstone’ – a one-week assessed transactional simulation.
Articling Application Process in Alberta: How to Become a Lawyer in Alberta
You can register as a student-at-law electronically through The Lawyer Portal of Alberta and apply for a 12-month-long articling clerkship.
It is vital to point out that the eight-to-twelve-month articling positions are not provided by the government. Candidates themselves need to research and apply to the targeted opportunities in advance. VI portal-supported and direct company applications consist of two primary stages:
Application – candidates can submit their application either through the VI Portal or directly to the organisation of interest via post or email. To take a broader look at the required application package, we have merged the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta’s and the Legal Aid Alberta’s requested files:
- Resume/Curriculum Vitae accompanied by a cover letter;
- Law school and post-secondary academic transcripts;
- Letters of reference highlighting particular skills or a list of contactable references; and
- An unmarked work sample.
Interview – successful applicants can check the summarised interview timeframes in the next section below in order to prepare accordingly for them.
Articling Application Deadlines in Alberta
Below are the general articling deadlines for aspiring Alberta lawyers, which are set by the Law Society of Alberta:
Firms in Calgary
The application portal opens in early August and is set to remain open for roughly a month before it closes in early September. Shortly after the interview emails will be sent out.
The first set of interviews is generally conducted at the end of September or early October, which is followed by a second interview slot taking place in early October.
Official articling position offers are confirmed mid-October.
Firms in Edmonton
Application deadlines do not go beyond mid-September so as to make way for late September on-campus interviews.
In later October offers are sent out.
Is It Worth Becoming a Lawyer in Alberta?
Alberta truly is a great province for one to complete their articling because it offers a range of different-sized law firms to article in. Whether one is looking for a small, medium or large firm to start articling in, there is something for everyone. The 2016 Statistical Report of The Federation of Law Societies of Canada counted 1,928 firms with 2-10 lawyers; 797 with 11-25 lawyers; 813 with 26-50 lawyers and 1,501 with over 51 lawyers.
From real estate law to family law, to corporate law – there is something for everything in Alberta. With a wide variety of legal services and types of law practice available, you can be certain to find a perfect articling placement.
The Kahane Law Office raises the reputation of the small firms’ group, whereas Ogilvie Law LLP and Field Law act as solid ambassadors of the middle-sized chambers’ network. Finally, the latter category majorly welcomes the likes of the world’s largest firm – Dentons LLP.
Even better, the legal diversity extends beyond that in the areas of law exercised specifically within Alberta. In terms of the most popular services, Commercial and Banking & Finance head the business-tailored legal advice list in Edmonton. Whilst Calgary is an Employment and Immigration legal hub.
Bear in mind this one specific geographical bonus of articling exactly in Alberta. Namely, a number of the more notable Alberta law businesses typically operate branches in both Edmonton and Calgary. One could gain a feel of the contemporary legal issues in the province’s central and southern regions at the same time. With Calgary being relatively close to the American border, those willing to engage in international work might well expect cross-border cooperation with USA-based partnerships.
By Georgi Minchev