By: Natasha Marar, Business Advisor
Graduating law school is challenging enough, but many foreign-trained lawyers face additional hurdles in becoming licensed to practice law in Canada.
These lawyers must gain accreditation from the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA). This can be a long and expensive process which requires the successful completion of core legal subject exams. Candidates must study independently for NCA exams, which are held four times a year.
According to Mclean’s Magazine, the number of foreign-trained law graduates applying to the NCA for the right to practice law in Canada rose from 225 in 1999 to 562 in 2007. The Federation of Law Societies of Canada reports that in 2008, 89 students were admitted to the bar admission course with an NCA certificate. By 2014, the number had grown to 810.
Increased popularity of NCA certification can be due to graduates’ desire to travel and gain experience abroad before starting their career, as well as becoming licensed in different countries in order to provide clients with more comprehensive legal services.
Windsorite Nour Jomaa, 25, is entering the articling process to practice civil litigation. He recently completed NCA certification after studying law at the University of Leicester in England.
“I found it was really hard to manage full-time work, and usually overtime, while studying for the (NCA) exams. And the readings are quite extensive,” said Jomaa.
The experience motivated Jomaa to start his own business, NCA ExamPrep, an online portal to help law school graduates and lawyers study for the exams in a convenient manner that uses the most up-to-date exam materials.
NCA ExampPrep launches in April, and Jomaa anticipates that 75 per cent of his clients will be Canadians that have studied abroad, while 25 per cent will be American and other foreign-trained lawyers looking to practice law in Canada.
“With the rise of globalization, we’re seeing a lot of new immigrants that are coming into this Canadian jurisdiction; they are also required to undertake the examination,” said Jomaa.
The National Committee on Accreditation assesses applicants for the same education and experience as those with a Canadian LL.B (Bachelors of Law) or J.D. (Juris Doctor) degree. Candidates may be required to pass exams to demonstrate their knowledge, complete additional courses at a Canadian university, or complete a full Canadian LL.B. degree.
After receiving a certificate of qualification from the NCA, applicants will begin the bar admission process, which includes writing bar exams and articling for 10 months.
“The issue that most students take with [the NCA exams] is the lack of guidance. Whereas in school you have your educator, you have your tutorial leader […] When you come into this accreditation process, it’s all up to you […] and at the same time it’s your job to do all of this while searching for jobs, a placement. Some people are already working. It’s a lot to take in while maintaining your other commitments,” said Jomaa. “And that’s where I come in.”
Using NCA ExamPrep’s website, customers are able to download course notes and schedule tutoring sessions and exam writing workshops. Individual tutoring sessions and exam workshops are conducted over Skype and telephone, allowing for individuals to participate from around the world. Course notes cost $40, exam workshops are $100 and tutoring is $50 per hour.
“I have found a way to condense the readings into a systematic format, and I’ve also found a way to teach and deliver the material within the readings in a timeframe that’s much more condense … It’s fully customizable … we allow students to pick and choose whatever notes and tutoring they want to purchase (depending on the exam subject).”
The NCA exam preparation industry is currently unregulated, with products and services offered by independent tutors, corporations and public institutions. Jomaa is proud to offer more value than other NCA exam providers by being accessible to clients around the world.
Nour Jomaa is a WindsorEssex Small Business Centre client that received training, mentorship and $5,000 through the Starter Company program. You too can receive support in launching or expanding your small business. Contact us for more information.