On this page, you will learn about how to become a lawyer in Quebec. The pathway to qualifying as a lawyer in Quebec is similar to other Canadian provinces and territories when it comes to the initial stages. However, the latter stages of becoming a lawyer in Quebec are unique to this province.
Requirements: Stage 1 of How to Become a Lawyer in Quebec
As mentioned above, the first stage of becoming a lawyer in Quebec is the same as in other parts of Canada.
High School Diploma
It is mandatory for future lawyers to finish their secondary education or equivalent.
One of the requirements for entry into a Canadian law program(JD program or LLL program in Quebec) is at least a bachelor’s degree. In Canada, law schools are considered graduate programs thus you will need to complete your undergraduate degree.
Every Canadian law schools require the completion of the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) except law schools in Quebec. You will not need to complete the LSAT if you are planning to attend a law program in Quebec. However, if you were to complete the LSAT you must submit your score with your law school applications. McGill Law School encourages applicants to complete the test considering the competitive nature of the law program.
If you are planning to practice law in Canada, you must finish a common law degree. In Quebec, however, you will need a civil law degree. Your legal education can be from any law school in Canada.
Some law degrees are faster to complete than others, like the 2-Year Graduate Entry LLB in the UK.
Applying to Law Schools
In Quebec, you will have to apply to law schools directly through their university application portals. You will most likely need to submit a personal statement, resume, letters of recommendation, and academic transcripts. For those applying to civil law schools in Quebec, there are 5 law schools located in the province:
- McGill Law (Common law and civil law);
- the Université de Montréal (common law in french and civil law);
- the Université de Sherbrooke;
- the Université Laval; and
- Université du Québec à Montréal.
Requirements: Stage 2 of How to Become a Lawyer in Quebec
- For a start, whilst the other provinces required the completion of a Canadian common law degree, Quebec accepts civil law graduate qualifications as well.
- Afterward, law graduates must undertake a four-month work placement at the Ecole du Barreau de Quebec. This can be compared to a Bar Admission Course in other provinces. Amongst other topics, students learn about professional responsibilities and the legal profession and receive further legal training.
- Complete a six-month articling training period.
- Contrasted to the other English-speaking Canadian provinces, Quebec’s official language is French, and consequently, one’s spoken and written French language abilities are tested by the official language assessment set by the Office de la Langue Francaise.
- Once all these criteria are fulfilled, the final stage left is to apply for the Quebec Bar membership. There is no formal Bar examination in Quebec.
Articling Application Process in Quebec
The process of applying for articling positions in Quebec is the following:
Application – the VI Portal acts as the submission platform for the majority of applications, although it is possible to email applications or send them by post to organizations (e.g. law firms, notary chambers or courts). No application can go without a cover letter, albeit be sure to check whether the organization you are applying to has a preference as to a full Curriculum Vitae or a shorter resume.
Caution must be taken in respect of submitting the required academic transcripts: law school transcripts are mandatory everywhere, however, that does not apply to post-secondary degree transcripts – no recruiter would want to be occupied with removing unnecessary paperwork. Additionally, if applicable, transcripts from the Bar of Quebec may have to be obtained, as well as copies of law school research papers, or residency proof.
Interview – details about the conduction of interviews will be communicated to candidates, although it is important to warn you in advance that some organizations carry out two rounds of interviews, each conducted in different circumstances and with a different purpose. In such situations, round one interviews tend to be shorter and less formal, whereas final interviews are led by officials of high standing (for example partners or HR managers) and may involve practical tasks as well.
Articling Application Deadlines in Quebec: How to Become a Lawyer in Quebec
Application to the Quebec Bar School Course
The articling applications usually start in early February and close just over a month later in early March.
Law Firms in Montreal
The Entente de recrutement, outlining how the law recruitment is to operate in Quebec, has been signed by most law firms in this city.
McCarthy Tétrault LLP abided by this agreement and laid out its articling recruitment applications in the following patterns: applications are received by early February at the latest; interviews take place on and after and mid- March and subsequently offers were announced after that.
Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP closes its recruitment applications in early February and proceeds with its interviews in March, after which offers were sent out.
Similarly, Montreal’s Legal Excellence Articling Programme held applications open in mid-December and early February.
Law Firms in Quebec City
The Entente de recrutement’s principles are also applicable to Quebec City.
The VI Portal opens applications in early February.
Interviews take place in mid-March, with offers being confirmed in the closing days of March.
Is It Worth Becoming a Lawyer in Quebec?
Quebec’s Bar Society (Barreau Quebec) records a membership of 22,500 lawyers, excluding the 3,498 notaries, which practically places Quebec second in line after Ontario in terms of Canada’s busiest provinces in relation to their development of the legal sector. The Statistical Report of The Federation of Law Societies of Canada from 2016 confirmed that 1,045 articling students were employed by law firms and another 135 articling spots were advertised by notary chambers.
Quebec is famous for having French as its main language, so this province will be a suitable choice to accomplish an articling period for those, who may not speak English as their first language, or who would like to try communicating legal matters in a different language to their mother tongue.
Quebec is not short of opportunities and accommodates branches of several major law firms, both international, namely Norton Rose Fulbright and Dentons LLP, or some of Canada’s most prominent, for instance, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP and Gowling WLG. Quebec’s non-contentious legal sector is really well-developed in its commercial, corporate, finance and banking, real estate and intellectual property law services.
Litigious work in both the criminal and civil law practices also finds strong growth in Quebec, but the province can also be distinguished from other Canadian territories in its provision of international law, immigration, and human rights advice.
By Georgi Minchev