Is Now A Good Time To Become A Lawyer In Canada?

Published December 31, 2013
Photo credit here.

Photo credit here.

Getting a law degree was at one time considered a guaranteed path to a lucrative career, complete with the fancy cars and multi-million dollar homes. Unfortunately it’s not that simple any longer, with the possible value of a law degree losing momentum against the astronomical increase in tuition fees, leaving graduates with substantial debts instead of wealth.

Although getting a law education in Canada isn’t in the same serious condition as it is in the United States, it is something to address before things get worse. Still, attaining a law degree will be worth the effort and, depending on the type of lawyer, can still be rewarding once you get past the student loans and tuition fees.

The law profession is calling for more attention being paid to experiential learning, skills training and the expansion of practice correlated competencies and their concerns are being well taken seriously by a number of law schools which are expanding on these opportunities for law students; even so there’s much more that needs to be accomplished. The intricate balance between doctrinal training and targeted preparation for the distribution of legal services requires a shift toward acquiring the expertise essential for people that will be delivering services to their clients.

A Task Force report from the American Bar Association released on September 20, 2013 made several recommendations that they hope will improve the future of legal education covering everything from the funding and costs of legal education to improved skills and competencies, innovation and more. While the report is written to address the crisis going on in the United States when it comes to a legal education, Canada it seems is now also at a crossroads in terms of their own system but not at a critical stage; still it helps create a path to ensure that they get it right.

Preparing for Law School and Beyond

Any university degree will help prepare you for law school whether it’s a degree in biochemistry, engineering, political science, economics, etc. Finishing your degree will take three to four years; today, the majority of Canadian law schools requires that you complete a minimum of 3 years of your degree or a completed degree before being accepted into law school.

Even if the law school you choose doesn’t require it, having a degree will make you look much more competitive on your application. The average lawyer salary (in private practice) starts at as high at $105,000 in the first year, ranging as high as $215k in their 7th year plus bonuses.

Another way to get involved in a law related career path is to consider becoming a paralegal whose full time annual salary typically runs between $40,000 to $50,000. With paralegals able to start practicing to some degree, and their degree much easier, and more costly, to obtain than a law degree. Paralegal’s assist lawyers with paperwork, interviewing clients, organizing evidence, preparing briefs, handling small claims court representation, taking depositions, affidavits and more.

Also, fortunately for lawyers, the old Aztec system of “mutual giving and benefiting one another” probably isn’t going to come back anytime soon; there will always be a need for lawyers.

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