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themockingjay

NCA student - need advice on LLM and building legal career in Toronto

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27 minutes ago, themockingjay said:

I totally agree the upgrading LLMs are cash grab  lol, but they are at least cheaper/faster/easier than doing a JD. Since I am starting fresh in Canada, I see this as a means to an end for someone who only holds a foreign law degree, to get me some understanding in Canadian law to look a bit better when I apply for articling/jobs, since I do not have any working experience in Canada. That’s why I am considering the upgrading LLMs at U of T and Osgoode - I guess I must have been confused by the Osgoode website since they put the Canadian Law LLM under its professional LLM as well LOL

Anyways would you say that U of T’s GPLLM and Osgoode Canadian law LLM are more or less the same, other than the crazy tuition fee at U of T?

Thank you very much for your reply!

They are helpful in a sense that you can wave them at employers. Some employers will be more comfortable knowing that you have formal Canadian law courses. Others won't care. The stigma revolves more around Canadians going abroad and returning and coming to these programs, and slightly less so for people immigrating to Canada. 

U of T's GPLLM and Osgoode's Canadian law LLM are essentially the same, IMO. They're both great schools offering upgrading courses. That 60k is going to be rough to start out when you're still searching for articles, all the while trying to become a PR. You may also want to look into whether the GPLLM offers the same career advising services as U of T JD students. If they don't, you're going to have a lot of searching to do on your own. 

A colleague of mine did a McGill LLM (research) having graduated from a foreign law school. He then did his NCA exams through self study. That was a cheaper alternative than doing the GPLLM. 

 

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37 minutes ago, youngpadawan said:

Hi @themockingjay, I'm from India and currently in a somewhat similar situation. Kindly go through my profile and see the replies to my post asking for information regarding the whole transition process. I got some great pointers there. Currently, I'm trying to follow up on the information received and doing some additional research. I will update my post within the next week or so and it will hopefully be of some use to you. 

Also, The Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers (FACL) is hosting a session for internationally trained/NCA process lawyers that could prove insightful for you: https://on.facl.ca/tc-events/landing-the-right-job-in-canada-what-you-need-to-know-as-an-internationally-trained-nca-lawyer/

Good luck. 

Thank you very much for your sharing. I have gone through your thread and looked at some of the replies, they have been really useful! I look forward to reading your update!

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28 minutes ago, artsydork said:

They are helpful in a sense that you can wave them at employers. Some employers will be more comfortable knowing that you have formal Canadian law courses. Others won't care. The stigma revolves more around Canadians going abroad and returning and coming to these programs, and slightly less so for people immigrating to Canada. 

U of T's GPLLM and Osgoode's Canadian law LLM are essentially the same, IMO. They're both great schools offering upgrading courses. That 60k is going to be rough to start out when you're still searching for articles, all the while trying to become a PR. You may also want to look into whether the GPLLM offers the same career advising services as U of T JD students. If they don't, you're going to have a lot of searching to do on your own. 

A colleague of mine did a McGill LLM (research) having graduated from a foreign law school. He then did his NCA exams through self study. That was a cheaper alternative than doing the GPLLM. 

 

I see! Thank you so much for your advice and I will do some further research and look at the different options. 

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3 hours ago, themockingjay said:

is it that bigger firms only hire the summer students 2 years prior to articling and they only take applications from the central system - the viportal?

2 years? No. Not sure where you got that impression (sorry if I caused it inadvertently), but literally no firm will hire articles any earlier than 1 year before. In BC, articles are hired in the July-August timeframe, to start next summer (after graduation).

Yes, most but not all big firms uses viportal.

3 hours ago, themockingjay said:

..., so would it be better for me to apply for summer schemes like those 2L students?...

Summering with a firm will def increase your chances of being hired as an article, but is not necessary.

3 hours ago, themockingjay said:

...,they are reluctant to review/accept your application until you get the NCA cert of qualification?...

Yes, they would likely not waste their time on speculative applications. 

 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, themockingjay said:

I did consider completing my TC and get qualified in HK first but I have been told it won’t help much in finding jobs in Canada with the HK qualification and the 2-year working experience as a trainee. Also I don’t have much to lose to start afresh now (comparing to working two years in HK and with all the connections made in HK legal industry). I am rushing things a bit as things are not optimistic in HK and I intend to take advantage of the new Canadian immigration policy towards HK people - uncertain if this would still be in force two years later if I am to complete my TC first.

Thank you for your reply to my questions and networking suggestions - they are very helpful! I just have two more questions: So when to take the licensing exams would be of my own preference, and firms generally don’t have specific preference/requirement?

Do you know anything about the international arbitration practice in Toronto/Canada? From my research it doesn’t seem to be a popular area of practice - please correct me if I have got the wrong impression. I am very interested in international arbitration and have had some working experience in the field in HK, so I really hope that I can continue with it and build a career in the field in Canada/Toronto.

It will be entirely up to you to decide when to take the licensing exams. In most cases, employers don't really care about when you complete them, although some employers may prefer candidates to have already completed them before they begin their articling placement. 

International arbitration is a really niche field. As you have already guessed, it isn't a really popular area. However, there are some arbitrators that practice in Toronto. I would suggest you to search through Google or LinkedIn and connect with one. Since you have some legal experience in the area, it may help you in the long run.

Edited by timeisticking

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If you are relocating to Canada for good why even bother doing the PCLL? PCLL is not a walk in the park to begin with. I am in a similar predicament as you difference being I am a Canadian-HK dual citizen since birth. I have returned back to Canada in late 2018/early 2019 after living in HK for my entire life because of personal issues, hence my desire to stay here to finish my legal certification is not because of political goal (rather unfortunate in my case) as seen in the year of being back to Canada. On a non-political side of things, Canada provides a much better quality of life than HK that is for sure. However, seeing you are interested in international arbitration HK does provide a better opportunity than Canada on this field because it is still an international finance centre that caters to the mainland market. Like it or not, China is still the 2nd largest market in the world. The better corporate law opportunities in HK (given that the average corporate lawyer in HK after a few years experience earns 200k+ which the Canadian counterpart would not compete) doesn't matter for me personally because I have experienced HK corporate law and I would never wish to return. However given a majority of career posts here on this site caters towards biglaw based on the amount of attention those get maybe the average canadian law student would go to hk to practice there after getting some legal experience under their belt if they are so inclined! 

Now onto the political things, a majority of HKers are "pro-democratic" this I know. I was one myself until I am not recently.

 

[mod edit: removed several lengthy paragraphs]

 

Apologies for being long and ranty i just have to get this thought out there. 

Edited by Hegdis
lengthy rant that derailed the thread removed
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OK. Temporary lock here. The OP isn't interested in a poli sci debate. Thread will re open when people cool down and have more practical advice to the OP. 

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I have edited one post that went into a massive derail, and a number of further derail responses to the edited portions have also been removed.

If people want to have a passionate debate about China and its politics, post in the off topic forum and keep it civil. Don't derail legitimate inquiries from other members.

Unlocked.

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I know a number of classmates (3 ) who finished HKU LLB / JD but due to whatever reasons returned to/ moved to Canada / left HK, mostly because of lifestyle reasons.  All of them returned with HKU law degrees (one finished PCLL), 1 to Vancouver, 1 to TO, 1 to US, the 2 who went to Canada both completed NCA without studying local LLM , but for the finding of articles, there is a market for Chinese speaking lawyers in those cities (i.e. Vancouver, TO) with large Chinese populations.  Most focus on buying selling properties, clients being Chinese (whether Chinese businesses, or PRC buyers).  If you're happy serving that population then I'm sure there are opportunities, because many Canadian lawyers, can't read/write Chinese (for obvious reasons).  But I must stress again, if you don't like serving PRC businesses in HK, then you might want to have some second thoughts on going to Vancouver / TO market, which I think some law firms would be interested in hiring you due to your Chinese abilities ...

Take the above with a grain of salt.

Edited by Ruthless4Life
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On 11/18/2020 at 6:48 PM, timeisticking said:

Is there a particular reason why you decided not to commence your training contract or pupillage? Considering you are already doing the PCLL, wouldn't it be better to be licensed in Hong Kong first? There's a greater chance of getting articling positions (or abridgment of articles) if you complete your qualifications and gain some prior legal experience before moving to Toronto.

1. Both are relatively the same. The tuition fees for the GPLLM at U of T is prohibitively expensive (approximately $67,228.65 CAD for international students), while the Osgoode Professional LLM is slightly less expensive (approximately $42,314.73 for international students). 

2. No one here can answer this question, but you do meet the minimum requirements. It's better to contact the admissions team for further information. 

3. You can start looking for articles once you start the program. However, many employers are not well-informed with the NCA process, so you may need to explain it to them. Those that know about the process and accept NCA candidates tend to prefer those that have already completed their requirements. When applying to articling positions, you should let them know when you will finish the exams, so you can give them an approximate start date for your articling placement.  

Once you complete your NCA requirements, you will be able to receive your Certificate of Qualification. The NCA will ask you which law societies you want the certificate issued to. When the LSO receives the Certificate, you may start your articling placement and take your licensing exams. Depending on your preference, you may choose to do the exams during or after your articling term. 

4. It is difficult. Probably easier for you if you have international legal experience, but nonetheless an uphill battle.

As you mentioned, you don't know anyone practicing in Canada, so you will need to network and make connections. There are a number of recently created organizations catering to NCA students, so you can check these out: 

5. Depends on the type of firm and area of law you want to practice. 

Having another read at the thread I’m also inclined to think that there is some merit in obtaining HK qualification before returning to Canada. Firstly, poster already studying pcll. No point to study pcll if he / she isn’t going to be HK qualified. Secondly there are a number of lawyers in Vancouver / TO / cities originally from HK and would be more interested to hire a HK qualified student for the sheer hope he / she may serve the HK market( there’s a lot of talk about HKer immigrating overseas and a lot of immigration changes in Canada, I think a HK qualified lawyer can be helpful in that market ). He can always market himself as an immigration lawyer. Poster may think 2 years training (HK’s articling - called “ training contract “ is 2 years long ) may be long but over the long term you’d think back and probably think it was time well spent to obtain the qualification in the grand scheme of things. 

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1 hour ago, Ruthless4Life said:

Having another read at the thread I’m also inclined to think that there is some merit in obtaining HK qualification before returning to Canada. Firstly, poster already studying pcll. No point to study pcll if he / she isn’t going to be HK qualified. Secondly there are a number of lawyers in Vancouver / TO / cities originally from HK and would be more interested to hire a HK qualified student for the sheer hope he / she may serve the HK market( there’s a lot of talk about HKer immigrating overseas and a lot of immigration changes in Canada, I think a HK qualified lawyer can be helpful in that market ). He can always market himself as an immigration lawyer. Poster may think 2 years training (HK’s articling - called “ training contract “ is 2 years long ) may be long but over the long term you’d think back and probably think it was time well spent to obtain the qualification in the grand scheme of things. 

"Secondly there are a number of lawyers in Vancouver / TO / cities originally from HK and would be more interested to hire a HK qualified student for the sheer hope he / she may serve the HK market( there’s a lot of talk about HKer immigrating overseas and a lot of immigration changes in Canada, I think a HK qualified lawyer can be helpful in that market )"

I am not sure about Vancouver, but I don't recall 'a number of lawyers in Toronto originally from HK".  

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On 11/19/2020 at 12:41 AM, themockingjay said:

I did consider completing my TC and get qualified in HK first but I have been told it won’t help much in finding jobs in Canada with the HK qualification and the 2-year working experience as a trainee. Also I don’t have much to lose to start afresh now (comparing to working two years in HK and with all the connections made in HK legal industry). I am rushing things a bit as things are not optimistic in HK and I intend to take advantage of the new Canadian immigration policy towards HK people - uncertain if this would still be in force two years later if I am to complete my TC first.

Thank you for your reply to my questions and networking suggestions - they are very helpful! I just have two more questions: So when to take the licensing exams would be of my own preference, and firms generally don’t have specific preference/requirement?

Do you know anything about the international arbitration practice in Toronto/Canada? From my research it doesn’t seem to be a popular area of practice - please correct me if I have got the wrong impression. I am very interested in international arbitration and have had some working experience in the field in HK, so I really hope that I can continue with it and build a career in the field in Canada/Toronto.

Hi I have similar background as you do (prolly the same university as your max. gpa is 4.0 not 4.3 lol), difference being that I'm now doing my TC and will get qualified next year. One thing to share with you - I also applied for Canadian LLM during my PCLL but I was not admitted. The impression I got was that they were more willing to accept mature students with some work experience. There're actually some stats on the background of students admitted to the GPLLM on UofT's website and you could see that on average they had more than 10 years work experience. 

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4 hours ago, Ruthless4Life said:

Having another read at the thread I’m also inclined to think that there is some merit in obtaining HK qualification before returning to Canada. Firstly, poster already studying pcll. No point to study pcll if he / she isn’t going to be HK qualified. Secondly there are a number of lawyers in Vancouver / TO / cities originally from HK and would be more interested to hire a HK qualified student for the sheer hope he / she may serve the HK market( there’s a lot of talk about HKer immigrating overseas and a lot of immigration changes in Canada, I think a HK qualified lawyer can be helpful in that market ). He can always market himself as an immigration lawyer. Poster may think 2 years training (HK’s articling - called “ training contract “ is 2 years long ) may be long but over the long term you’d think back and probably think it was time well spent to obtain the qualification in the grand scheme of things. 

This is why I'm confused about the OP's decision not to go through with their training contract or pupillage and become licensed in Hong Kong. There is some value in hiring a lawyer with knowledge of Hong Kong law from an employer's point of view. By having connections in Hong Kong, the potential for referring clients interested in making the move to Canada would bring a lot of business to immigration law firms. On top of that, there is growing demand for lawyers that are fluent in Cantonese and Mandarin, allowing them to tap into the Chinese market.  

Edited by timeisticking

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3 hours ago, Luckycharm said:

 

I am not sure about Vancouver, but I don't recall 'a number of lawyers in Toronto originally from HK".  

I am originally from Vancouver.  But I can name at least 2-3 classmates who graduated from HKU and now practicing in TO.  I also did a quick search from the Ontario bar list of a few popular HKer last names, and quite a few popped up, showing their ability to speak Cantonese/Mandarin (meaning likely to be from HK).  Besides, TO has the highest Chinese population in Canada (Vancouver 2nd I think).

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23 hours ago, Ruthless4Life said:

I know a number of classmates (3 ) who finished HKU LLB / JD but due to whatever reasons returned to/ moved to Canada / left HK, mostly because of lifestyle reasons.  All of them returned with HKU law degrees (one finished PCLL), 1 to Vancouver, 1 to TO, 1 to US, the 2 who went to Canada both completed NCA without studying local LLM , but for the finding of articles, there is a market for Chinese speaking lawyers in those cities (i.e. Vancouver, TO) with large Chinese populations.  Most focus on buying selling properties, clients being Chinese (whether Chinese businesses, or PRC buyers).  If you're happy serving that population then I'm sure there are opportunities, because many Canadian lawyers, can't read/write Chinese (for obvious reasons).  But I must stress again, if you don't like serving PRC businesses in HK, then you might want to have some second thoughts on going to Vancouver / TO market, which I think some law firms would be interested in hiring you due to your Chinese abilities ...

Take the above with a grain of salt.

Sorry if I am straying away from the topic, but would you mind clarifying any problem when serving PRC business. 

Edited by Franknku

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1 minute ago, Franknku said:

Sorry if I am straying away from the topic, but would you mind clarifying any problem when serving PRC business. I personally do not like CCP. Will that be a problem for serving PRC business? 

Given the nature of PRC , virtually all big businesses in PRC are either pro-CCP, or indirectly owned by CCP or state-backed.  Otherwise, they can't do business there. ..

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7 minutes ago, Ruthless4Life said:

 

Given the nature of PRC , virtually all big businesses in PRC are either pro-CCP, or indirectly owned by CCP or state-backed.  Otherwise, they can't do business there. ..

I think every single big business in PRC is pro-CCP, or at least apparently not against CCP, no matter where it does business....

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1 hour ago, timeisticking said:

This is why I'm confused about the OP's decision not to go through with their training contract or pupillage and become licensed in Hong Kong. There is some value in hiring a lawyer with knowledge of Hong Kong law from an employer's point of view. By having connections in Hong Kong, the potential for referring clients interested in making the move to Canada would bring a lot of business to immigration law firms. On top of that, there is growing demand for lawyers that are fluent in Cantonese and Mandarin, allowing them to tap into the Chinese market.  

Well...I wouldn't make the decision to complete a 2-year training contract solely on the prospect of bringing immigration work later on. Personally, I don't think it is as profitable as one might think. If OP wants to do immigration work/serve the HK niche market in Canada, he/she can do so with whatever he/she has right now in terms of connection and language skill. To my understanding, most Canadian employers won't care about the HK qualification unless they actually need someone to advise on HK law (but why would the client hire someone in Canada to do that, when they can/should just hire someone from a law firm in HK). I am also not aware of anyone practicing HK law in Canada. The HK qualification will be just a one-line marketing material that have no relevance to 99.9% of the legal work being done in most Canadian law firms.

That being said, I think there is still some value in completing the training contract, particularly if it is with a large/international law firm. It might provide lateral opportunities/connections. It also signals that OP has competencies/skills that Canadian large firms might be interested in. But then again, I wouldn't sweat about getting the qualification if OP is dead set on bailing HK.  

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On 11/25/2020 at 11:36 AM, GFHK said:

Hi I have similar background as you do (prolly the same university as your max. gpa is 4.0 not 4.3 lol), difference being that I'm now doing my TC and will get qualified next year. One thing to share with you - I also applied for Canadian LLM during my PCLL but I was not admitted. The impression I got was that they were more willing to accept mature students with some work experience. There're actually some stats on the background of students admitted to the GPLLM on UofT's website and you could see that on average they had more than 10 years work experience. 

Hi!! LOL I totally forgot only our school's max gpa is 4.0 haha

May I ask which programme at which school did you apply to back then?

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On 11/19/2020 at 4:58 AM, timeisticking said:

It will be entirely up to you to decide when to take the licensing exams. In most cases, employers don't really care about when you complete them, although some employers may prefer candidates to have already completed them before they begin their articling placement. 

International arbitration is a really niche field. As you have already guessed, it isn't a really popular area. However, there are some arbitrators that practice in Toronto. I would suggest you to search through Google or LinkedIn and connect with one. Since you have some legal experience in the area, it may help you in the long run.

I see! Thank you very much for your advice!

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