More than just a lawyer: Three in-demand legal career paths for foreign-trained legal professionals in Canada
Published April 4, 2023.
Estimated reading time: 3.5 minutes
- Internationally-trained legal professionals have a number of career opportunities to explore in Canada’s rapidly growing legal sector.
- From paralegals to legal technology specialists, internationally-educated lawyers and other legal professionals can find rewarding and lucrative career opportunities in every part of the country.
- These alternative legal careers can open doors for immigrant and refugee professionals to find work in a variety of settings including law firms, businesses and technology companies, as well as, public and non-profit organizations.
If you're an internationally-trained legal professional interested in working in Canada, you may be surprised to learn about the diverse range of legal careers available in the country. While lawyers are certainly an important part of the legal profession, they are not the only legal professionals in high demand across Canada. In fact, there are many other legal careers that offer exciting and rewarding opportunities for those with the right skills and experience.
From paralegals and legal assistants to court reporters and legal translators, there are a wide range of Canadian careers in law that may be perfect for you.
In fact, according to recent statistics, the legal services sector is one of the largest and fastest-growing industries in Canada, with more than 142,000 people employed in legal occupations across the country. This represents a growth rate of over 13 per cent in the past decade, with many new job opportunities emerging in response to changing legal needs and new technologies.
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In this article, we'll explore some of the most in-demand legal careers in Canada, and what you need to know to pursue a career in these fields. Whether you're looking to work in a law firm, government agency, non-profit organization, or other legal setting, there are plenty of opportunities available to you.
To help you understand some of the alternative (but rapidly-growing) legal career paths available to you in your new country, the Windmill Microlending blog connected with Anton Haswell, Director of Legal Studies at Toronto School of Management. Haswell shares three career opportunities internationally-trained legal professionals should consider as they seek to establish their lives and careers in Canada.
Toronto School of Management’s Anton Haswell highlights in-demand legal career opportunities for internationally-educated legal professionals in Canada.
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Legal Career Option #1: Legal Consultant
Legal consulting is a field that combines legal knowledge with business acumen. Legal consultants advise businesses on legal matters, such as contracts and regulatory compliance. Internationally-trained lawyers are particularly well-suited to this career path because they often have a diverse legal background enabling them to provide valuable insights to businesses. Additionally, they are skilled at conducting legal research, drafting legal documents and helping companies navigate complex legal issues in Canada.
Legal consultants can work in a variety of settings, including law firms, corporations, and government agencies. Some legal consultants also provide training to businesses on legal matters, such as how to comply with regulatory requirements.
Legal consulting may be worth consideration for foreign-trained lawyers because it allows them to apply their legal knowledge in a business context. This career path also offers opportunities for professional growth and development, as legal consultants may have the opportunity to work with a wide range of clients and industries.
LISTEN: Anton Haswell, Director of Legal Studies at Toronto School of Management highlights three alternative legal careers (other than lawyer) for newcomer legal professionals in Canada.
Legal Career Option #2: Legal Technology Specialist
Legal technology specialists assist law firms and legal departments with implementing and managing technology systems. Internationally-trained lawyers with a background in technology and legal systems may be well-suited to this career path because they can use their knowledge and expertise to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of legal processes. Additionally, they can help Canadian law firms to manage their data, implement electronic discovery tools and streamline their document management processes. They may also be responsible for managing technology projects, conducting technology audits and providing training to legal professionals on the use of technology. Finally, you may have the opportunity to work on cutting-edge technology projects in these sorts of roles.
As technology continues to play a larger role in the legal industry, the demand for legal technology specialists in Canada is expected to increase. Legal technology specialists can work in a variety of settings, including law firms and technology companies, as well as, across the broader public and non-profit sectors.
Legal Career Option #3: Paralegal
According to the Canadian Association of Paralegals, a “paralegal” in Canada is defined as an individual qualified through education, training or work experience, who is employed or whose services have been retained by a legal professional, law firm, government agency, private or public corporation or other entity in a capacity or function which involves the performance, under the supervision of a legal professional, of substantive legal work, which may include administrative or managerial duties, requiring sufficient knowledge of legal concepts.
In Ontario, where Haswell is based, paralegals are authorized to provide legal services such as appearing before tribunals, drafting legal documents and providing legal advice in specific areas of law. An internationally-trained lawyer seeking a paralegal diploma in Ontario would need to meet admission requirements like having a university degree or equivalent and meeting language proficiency requirements.
Pursuing this option can help you gain Canadian-specific legal knowledge and skills, which can make you more competitive in the job market and enhance your career prospects. It can also provide you with an opportunity to gain practical legal experience in Canada and build a network of contacts in the legal industry. This is especially valuable if you eventually want to become a licensed lawyer in Canada.
Additionally, pursuing a paralegal diploma can be a more accessible and cost-effective way for internationally-trained lawyers to gain legal credentials in their new country. This route can also provide a straightforward pathway to becoming a licensed lawyer in Canada, compared to pursuing a law degree or completing the articling process.
Learn more about Toronto School of Management’s programs in legal studies by clicking here.
Want to understand how to navigate the lawyer licensing process and become a lawyer in Canada? Download Windmill’s free Educational Pathways for Skilled Newcomers today.