ohgodsohungry

Oxford Grad, Foreign National - Articling/NCA Timeline

35 posts in this topic

Hello everyone,

 

I'm a Singaporean who holds a law degree from the University of Oxford and an LLM (International Law) from the University of California, Berkeley. Just last month I put in an application for permanent residence to Canada through Express Entry - I have been wanting to move to your beautiful country for ages due to dissatisfaction with living in Singapore (it is a very conservative place!) Hopefully I will receive the PR by mid-year, but I am trying to make long term plans now. I aim to live and work in Toronto. I was wondering if you all could help on the following:

 

1) Would someone with my qualifications face significant challenges with the Articling/Job process? I understand that people with UK law degrees face some discrimination in the job market, but I'm not sure if my status as a foreign national will change the perception somewhat.

 

2) I am particularly interested in public interest work. Are articles in Government positions/NGOs uniquely difficult to get? I do not speak French, although I am trying to learn. 

 

3) In terms of timeline, do you think it would be advisable for me to complete the NCA exams BEFORE I make a landing in Canada? I aim to land in February 2018 and was wondering if I should take the exams in late 2017 first so I can immediately compete for Articling positions. However, it will cost me over 2000 CAD for a return flight to Toronto along with accommodation just to take the tests early. On the other hand, if completing the NCA exams before I land will enable me to get a job a lot quicker, then perhaps in the long term that will save me more money and it will be worth it. Are positions as Legal Assistants difficult to find - if not, perhaps I can just wait until I land before taking the March exams and work as a Legal Assistant while waiting for the results.

 

Thank you for your responses!

Edited by ohgodsohungry

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You have quite a unique situation and thus I'm not sure how helpful we can be. I can't speak to most of your questions but I did want to comment on this one:

 

 

1) Would someone with my qualifications face significant challenges with the Articling/Job process? I understand that people with UK law degrees face some discrimination in the job market, but I'm not sure if my status as a foreign national will change the perception somewhat.

 

 

You will likely face a bit of difficulty, but I think that is going to be mainly because you have no network here. Your situation is not typical of Canadian students, having gone the international route, returning home to get jobs. Their degrees will be seen with some measure of suspicion simply because they could have gone to a Canadian institution but chose not to and many firms believe that most Canadians who go abroad do so because it's (usually) easier to get into an international school than a Canadian school.

 

In your situation, you are not Canadian to begin with, so this presumption probably won't apply to you. Even so, you hold a degree from one of the best (if not the best) law schools in the UK (and one that is internationally recognized). And UC Berkeley is also a top law school in the US, so having an LLM from there is not likely to hold you back.

 

In other words, I don't think you have to worry much about your qualifications coming into question. You may face challenges as a foreigner generally, but not because of where you went to school.

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Why did you goto Oxford when you could have gone to Thompson Rivers?

 

http://lawstudents.ca/forums/topic/14139-ba-gpa-51-ma-gpa-77-lsat-58-forget-canada/

 

Just a note to the OP. Kcraig is displaying the worst aspect of his otherwise very helpful online persona in this reply (sorry dude, but you are) and his reply is not directed at you but rather at the ongoing meta-discussion on this board.

 

The only meaningful advice I can give to the OP would be that all else being equal, IF you are able to afford the time and the domestic study, you're probably better off completing at least some of your NCA requirements via study at a Canadian law school. It will give you access to that law schools career office, resources, some opportunity to network, etc. I don't know you're financial situation, but given your extensive overseas travel and education I'm going to assume that might be possible for you. Just completing NCA exams, otherwise, will notionally qualify you to article but won't do you any good in terms of actually finding that opportunity.

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Oh, Dippers. Xenophobia AND deference? How Canadian.

 

I'm really not sure what that means. Seriously, I don't.

 

Leaving that aside, you like to correct me when you think I've veered into being unproductive here. So let me do the same in return. You offered a completely inane and impossible to understand reply, to a sincere question, just because you're in a snit over a topic that's been discussed here for years. No one else, and certainly not the OP, had a hope in hell of understanding what you were talking about. So at best it's a distraction and a confusing reply. At worst, taken at face value, you've become a caricature of exactly the kind of trolling you usually campaign against, offering an foreign grad criticism for attending a foreign school.

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1. Less than a Canadian would considering that you're a foreign national who went to an excellent school, but like Ryn said the difficulty you will face is not having a network. I know someone who is Australian who moved here with his/her Canadian SO who is articling at a large corporate firm in downtown Toronto right now, so it is absolutely possible to get a good position in your shoes.

 

2. I don't know much about this (it's not my interest area), but yes, articling positions at places like the DOJ are very competitive. No idea if you can article at an NGO or not, I think you can article in house at a corporation, although they might send you to a firm for articling and then bring you back when you're done.

 

3. No idea.

 

Good luck!

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I'm really not sure what that means. Seriously, I don't.

 

Leaving that aside, you like to correct me when you think I've veered into being unproductive here. So let me do the same in return. You offered a completely inane and impossible to understand reply, to a sincere question, just because you're in a snit over a topic that's been discussed here for years. No one else, and certainly not the OP, had a hope in hell of understanding what you were talking about. So at best it's a distraction and a confusing reply. At worst, taken at face value, you've become a caricature of exactly the kind of trolling you usually campaign against, offering an foreign grad criticism for attending a foreign school.

 

- Why did I ask the first question? Because there is or was a consensus on this board that "Going to the US/UK/Aus. for law school was a JOKE" to paraphrase the title of a venerable thread. This was, of course, written by someone who had never done any of those things, but liked lording his or her mastery of the idiotic LSAT and ability to sail through life and a BA in _____ Studies over those for whom life had been more complicated. Oh no, others protested: we merely wanted to save you the pain of being rejected by CDN law firms. We love our mates in the Anglosphere, really we do. Except when we're referring to their schools as "shitty" and their degrees as ones "nobody respects". Other than that, we are totally down with that foreign stuff.

 

And my second comment? This feller went to Oxford. And Berserkeley. Now you can't trot out the "degree nobody respects" argument, can you. Wave that maple leaf, but we're all so frightfully impressed by the upper classes, aren't we. This guy gets a rational, helpful answer. Why the change in tone? Kowtowing to your betters? Do all U of T (Sorry -- where?) graduates like to imagine they can have these convos with their chums from across the pond?

 

Sad!

Edited by kcraigsejong
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Nothing says "I'm confident in my choices and assertions" like vitriolic rants...

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And my second comment? This feller went to Oxford. And Berserkeley. Now you can't trot out the "degree nobody respects" argument, can you. Wave that maple leaf, but we're all so frightfully impressed by the upper classes, aren't we. This guy gets a rational, helpful answer. Why the change in tone? Kowtowing to your betters? Do all U of T (Sorry -- where?) graduates like to imagine they can have these convos with their chums from across the pond?

 

I don't think anyone here said all foreign degrees will disadvantage you, just most. I think we're all agreed that if you end up at Yale or Harvard in the US you will probably be fine when returning to Canada. Same can be said for Oxford and Cambridge in the UK. It's not to say you won't face obstacles, mostly because of the lack of a network, but in terms of having employers question your credentials or motivations, it's doubtful it would happen with degrees from said universities.

 

But those kinds of institutions are few and far between. It's not that Canadian universities are far superior to other international schools, but I think it's quite well established that many common law schools abroad have generous admissions requirements precisely to attract Canadian students and their money. 

 

"Kowtowing to your betters" is hardly what I'd call what was taking place in this thread. I don't see why acknowledging Oxford's stature as a world-class school and the general acceptance of that fact within Canada as "kowtowing". Much like, if we were talking about practicing in the US, we acknowledged that U of T or McGill (and perhaps to an extent Osgoode) have a level of international clout that might help a Canadian lawyer find work in the States.

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Thanks everyone for their helpful replies. It looks like the main challenge I will face is acquiring a network in Toronto. I have a few Canadian lawyer friends I met on my LLM who may be able to help in this regard, but I'm sure more help is necessary. What do people think of the University of Toronto's Internationally Trained Lawyers Program (ITLP) and other such 'bridging programs' for international graduates? The website for UT's ITLP is down (has it been discontinued?) but if all I really want is access to a law school career office, it seems like paying as little as possible for a lean program catered specifically to careers makes the most financial sense (I think UT's career ITLP is about 2k+?) In response to Diplock: I have a good amount of money saved up for my move but unfortunately can't afford to drop 6k+ per NCA-fulfilling course (total of 5) at a Canadian school, haha. Wish I could though!

Edited by ohgodsohungry
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Let's please try to keep this on topic for the OP. Thanks.

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2) I am particularly interested in public interest work. Are articles in Government positions/NGOs uniquely difficult to get? I do not speak French, although I am trying to learn. 

 

3) In terms of timeline, do you think it would be advisable for me to complete the NCA exams BEFORE I make a landing in Canada?

Hi,

 

You have already got advice re your first point that I thought was helpful.

 

despite the entertaining bickering above, nobody answered your second and third points!! The nerve.

 

2. government jobs are typically more difficult to get for articling.  they are limited, their interviews typically consist of substantive law questions and, depending on the city you want to live in, the jobs may just not be available there.

 

3. yes, you should do the NCA exams as soon as possible.  there are significant delays with getting approval.  A bunch of my friends just wrote an exam in January and they just received their results this week.  I also believe that the NCA places a cap on the maximum amount of exams that you can write at any given time - which I believe is 4.  therefore, you should get started on them as soon as possible.

 

Feel free to ask if you have any more questions

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Hello everyone,

 

I'm a Singaporean who holds a law degree from the University of Oxford and an LLM (International Law) from the University of California, Berkeley. Just last month I put in an application for permanent residence to Canada through Express Entry - I have been wanting to move to your beautiful country for ages due to dissatisfaction with living in Singapore (it is a very conservative place!) Hopefully I will receive the PR by mid-year, but I am trying to make long term plans now. I aim to live and work in Toronto. I was wondering if you all could help on the following:

 

1) Would someone with my qualifications face significant challenges with the Articling/Job process? I understand that people with UK law degrees face some discrimination in the job market, but I'm not sure if my status as a foreign national will change the perception somewhat.

 

2) I am particularly interested in public interest work. Are articles in Government positions/NGOs uniquely difficult to get? I do not speak French, although I am trying to learn. 

 

3) In terms of timeline, do you think it would be advisable for me to complete the NCA exams BEFORE I make a landing in Canada? I aim to land in February 2018 and was wondering if I should take the exams in late 2017 first so I can immediately compete for Articling positions. However, it will cost me over 2000 CAD for a return flight to Toronto along with accommodation just to take the tests early. On the other hand, if completing the NCA exams before I land will enable me to get a job a lot quicker, then perhaps in the long term that will save me more money and it will be worth it. Are positions as Legal Assistants difficult to find - if not, perhaps I can just wait until I land before taking the March exams and work as a Legal Assistant while waiting for the results.

 

Thank you for your responses!

It's not clear from your post, are you a practicing lawyer in Singapore? Some provinces will waive the articling requirement if you have equivalent practice experience in another jurisdiction (you'll want to check with the relevant provincial law societies for their policies in that regard). You still have to do the NCA.

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Hi Maximumbob, yes sorry for not being clear - I am not a practicing lawyer in Singapore (the bar process would have taken too long and I want to land in Toronto by early next year). I can't get articling waived (and even if I did, I'm not sure I would want to pass up the valuable opportunity) and definitely have to do 5 NCAs (have already got my qualifications assessed).

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Not that I'm a recruiter or anything, but I don't think your credentials will hold you back. Everyone and their mother knows Oxford. Definitely get the NCA's done as soon as possible, the most you can before completing them is act as legal assistant. 

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Fair enough. The only reason I ask is that if you'd worked at one of the international law firms out of Singapore, I'd think you'd be very marketable in Canada (at least at business firms).

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Government jobs may have a preference for citizens. As Bob pointed out, you could be very marketable at business firms.

 

Re: the clusterfuck above. Again, Canadians going abroad is very different than locals moving to Canada. It's not a difficult concept to grasp.

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Government jobs may have a preference for citizens. As Bob pointed out, you could be very marketable at business firms.

 

Re: the clusterfuck above. Again, Canadians going abroad is very different than locals moving to Canada. It's not a difficult concept to grasp.

- The OP is neither.

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Thanks everyone for their helpful replies. It looks like the main challenge I will face is acquiring a network in Toronto. I have a few Canadian lawyer friends I met on my LLM who may be able to help in this regard, but I'm sure more help is necessary. What do people think of the University of Toronto's Internationally Trained Lawyers Program (ITLP) and other such 'bridging programs' for international graduates? The website for UT's ITLP is down (has it been discontinued?) but if all I really want is access to a law school career office, it seems like paying as little as possible for a lean program catered specifically to careers makes the most financial sense (I think UT's career ITLP is about 2k+?) In response to Diplock: I have a good amount of money saved up for my move but unfortunately can't afford to drop 6k+ per NCA-fulfilling course (total of 5) at a Canadian school, haha. Wish I could though!

 

Hi there! The U of T ITLP has been discontinued since last year. You might have better luck with the online NCA prep course from Osgoode. Other than the LLM, you can also complete your requirements by applying to certain Canadian law schools and completing JD courses as an NCA student. Some of them that come to mind include: U of T, Osgoode, U of Ottawa, U of Victoria, UBC (online distance learning program), UNB, etc. With that in mind, you will be able to access the career centre, although I do think they would cater more to JD students and thus might be less useful for you.

 

As for building up a network in Toronto, this shouldn't be a problem at all. There are several events available through OBA and CBA. Ethnic bar associations in the legal field, such as FACL (http://on.facl.ca), CABL (http://www.cabl.ca), and SABA (http://sabatoronto.com) offer networking and mentoring events that would be useful for establishing connections. 

Edited by timeisticking

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