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Lawyer Licensing Process FAQs

Here you will find several frequently asked questions and answers about the Law Society of Ontario's Licensing Process. Click on the headings below to reveal the questions and answers. 

  • General Information
  • Lawyer Licensing Process Application
    • How do I apply to the Lawyer Licensing Process?

      Please begin part one of the application online.

      Once you complete the online application, you will be notified through your online account to print your online application and submit the paper copy along with the required supporting documents in order to complete part 2 of the application process.  Please be sure to review the “Completing the Lawyer Licensing Process Application”  for further information. 

    • Can I apply to the Licensing Process at any time?
      Yes, you can apply at any time but you will incur a late filing fee if you apply past the due date indicated on the application.  You must complete parts one and two of the application first. Once your application is processed and verified you will be invoiced for your exams and study materials. Once those are paid and any other necessary documents are received, you are fully registered. This must all be done no later than 30 business days prior to the date of your first examination. Please refer to the Dates to Remember page for information on relevant Licensing Process dates and deadlines.
    • Can I apply if I don’t have an articling position?

      Yes, you may apply to the Lawyer Licensing Process without having secured an articling position. You must be registered in the Lawyer Licensing Process and your proof of education must be on file in order to commence and obtain credit for articles. If you are a National Committee on Accreditation candidate you must ensure that confirmation of the completion of your Certificate of Qualification is received prior to commencing articles.

    • Have you received my paper application?
      Once you submit parts one and two of the application, you will receive confirmation of receipt of your application via your Law Society online account.  If you apply by the application deadline, confirmation is typically sent within 30 business days.
    • I want to write my licensing examinations in November or March: when do I apply to the Licensing Process?
      You can apply any time but you must be fully registered and pay all applicable exam and material fees  by no later than 30 business days prior to the examination date. Your official final transcript or NCA certificate of qualification must be on file by no later than 30 business days prior to the date of your first examination. In order to be fully registered, you must have submitted all parts of the application, supporting documents and applicable exam and study material fees.
    • I am completing my National Committee on Accreditation examinations in January. When do I submit my Licensing Process application?
      You can apply at any time once the application is available. The application is typically available on the website in the fall of each year. The deadline is indicated as sometime in December of the same year but you can still apply after the indicated deadline. If you apply past the deadline you will incur a late fee, and you may not be registered in time for your preferred sitting. Your application to the Licensing Process and your National Committee on Accreditation Certificate of Qualification must be received by no later than 30 business days prior to your examination date, along with all other registration and application requirements. Please do not have the NCA forward documents or confirmation of completion to the Law Society if you have not completed the Licensing Process application process.
    • Can I drop off my application in person?
      Yes, the Law Society is open Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. Applications should be addressed to the Licensing & Accreditation Department and can be dropped off at the mailroom at the Law Society of Ontario (main floor).
    • Who can commission/notarize my Licensing Process application and documents?
      Your Licensing Process application and supporting documents must be certified/commissioned by a Notary or a Commissioner of Oaths or any individual who has the authority to certify or notarize documents relating to your Licensing Process application.
    • I am not in Canada. Can I get my Licensing Process application and supporting documents notarized in the country I am presently in?
      Yes, you may have your application and supporting documents signed/notarized in another country as long as the individual has the authority to certify/notarize documents relating to your Licensing Process application.
    • Do you accept foreign documents?

      The Law Society’s Licensing and Accreditation Department accepts certain documents issued outside of Canada. Namely, documents supporting applications for an exemption or abridgement and certain legal name documents such as marriage certificates issued abroad. As part of those and other administrative processes, we often receive documents that are not in English or French. Therefore, we ask that documents not issued in English or French be translated by an Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario (ATIO) Certified Translator. Candidates are solely responsible for ensuring the translation is completed by an Ontario ATIO Certified Translator and is sent to Licensing and Accreditation for review and verification.

       You may wish to refer to ATIO's Directory of Certified Translators on its website at https://atio.on.ca/. Your document(s) will not be reviewed/processed by Licensing and Accreditation unless they are accompanied by a translated document from an ATIO Certified Translator, as well as an affidavit attesting to its authenticity.

    • Why do you need my full legal name?

      You must be registered on the Rolls of the Law Society of Ontario and licensed in your full legal name. If you have legally changed your name, you must submit the Special Petition form (Legal Name Change Request) found at http://www.lso.ca/FeesandForms/, along with proof of the legal name change.

    • What documents are required to prove my full legal name?

      You can find the list of accepted legal name documents on the website in the “Completing the Lawyer Licensing Process application” page.

    • There is a mistake in my name on my birth certificate/Citizenship card. All my other documents show my name correctly. Why can I not use those other documents?

      The Law Society accepts specific proof of legal name documents in order to register and verify candidates in the Licensing Process and license them.  You can find the list of accepted legal name documents on the website in the “Completing the Lawyer Licensing Process Application”.

    • I am not in Canada, I do not have my Legal name documents with me. Can I send the application documents later and will I be charged a late filing fee?
      You can submit your Licensing Process application in order to meet the deadline. You can submit your legal name document upon returning to Canada in order to complete your Licensing Process Application. Please note that your application is not fully completed until all required supporting documents have been received.  It is your sole responsibility to submit these documents as soon as possible.
    • Why do you require my “official” final transcript OR my Certificate of Qualification to be sent directly from the Law School/National Committee on Accreditation to the Licensing and Accreditation Department?
      The Licensing Process Policies state that in order for a candidate to be eligible to be registered into the Licensing Process of the Law Society of Ontario, the candidate is required to provide proof of education requirements being met. This is proof of either an LL.B. or J. D.  completion or a Certificate of Qualification. This “official” proof of education must confirm that the candidate has graduated and obtained the required education from one of the accredited Law Schools listed on the Licensing Process website or the candidate has obtained the National Committee on Accreditation Certificate of Qualification.  In order to satisfy this, the document must be requested from the issuing institution by the candidate and the issuing institution must send the proof of education document directly to the Law Society’s Licensing and Accreditation Department. Transcripts submitted by a candidate or anyone other than the Law School or NCA will not be accepted.
    • Can I apply to the Licensing Process even if I don’t have my law transcript/National Committee on Accreditation Certificate of Qualification?

      Yes, you can apply but unless otherwise indicated by the Licensing Process, your official final transcript or NCA Certificate of Qualification must be on file by no later than 30 business days prior to the date of your first Licensing Examination. You do not qualify to write a Licensing Examination or start the Experiential Training program until and unless the official transcript or the Certificate of Qualification have been received and approved by the Law Society.

      Please note that candidates writing a licensing examination in June for the first time and graduating from law school in May/June of the same year may have their institution send the transcript to the Law Society by the August transcript deadline.

      NCA candidates must ensure their CQ is submitted by the National Committee on Accreditation at least 30 business days prior to any licensing examination sitting.

    • When and how do I submit my official final transcript/Certificate of Qualification?

      All transcripts/NCA documents confirming that your degree requirements have been met are due immediately upon completion of the requirements OR no later than the deadline posted on the “Dates to Remember” section online if your program is still in progress.

      All transcripts/NCA documents confirming that your degree requirements have been met are due by no later than 30 business days prior to the date of your first Licensing Examination if you have completed your educational requirements. Please note that first time writers of the June examinations who graduate in May June of the same year may have their law school submit their final transcript by the August deadline (in the same year).

      We do not accept final proof of education documents submitted by you. The Licensing and Accreditation Department must receive the proof of education directly from the issuing institution.

    • Will my criminal record/bankruptcy/youthful indiscretion/driving infraction/ prevent me from obtaining a licence?

      Not necessarily. An affirmative answer to any of the good character questions does not necessarily mean that you will be refused admission to the Licensing Process. The information provided by you is thoroughly reviewed by the Law Society’s Professional Regulation Department, and before an application for a license can be refused, the Law Society Act provides you an opportunity to appear before the Hearing Division if required.  Please see Good Character page for futher information.

    • What types of good character questions do I have to answer on the application?

      To preview the good character questions before you apply online please see this Good Character Amendment Form on the Fees and Forms page, which includes the questions that are asked on the online application:

      If your good character response(s) change after you submit your application, please submit this amendment form outlining the change in your original responses.

    • I have submitted my application, how do I get a Licensing Process Photo Identification Card?

      Once you are fully registered in the Licensing Process and you have paid for your examination study materials, you will be issued a candidate Identification card. You will be notified through your web account on how and when you will receive your identification card?

    • I am having difficulty making the payment deadline. What can I do?

      The Law Society offers support to candidates registered in the Licensing Process through various payment options and financial assistance programs. Please see Financial Assistance page for further information.

    • Can I give you my credit card over the telephone to pay for my Licensing Process fees?

      No, you cannot provide credit card information by telephone. You may pay online through your online web account prior to the deadline or pay in person at the Client Service Centre of the Law Society.

    • Why does my invoice have an issue date and payment due date that are the same date?

      If your invoice due date is the same as the issuing date, this means that your fees are due immediately.

    • Why am I not able to select an invoice to pay?

      If you are trying to submit payment past the posted due date for a licensing examination invoice or a study material invoice you will not be able to pay online. You will need to submit a request to obtain permission to pay for your examination fees past the stated deadlines.

    • I will be submitting my application past the deadline, will you invoice me for the late filing fee or should I be sending in the payment with my application?

      If you submit your licensing process application past the deadline, you can either include the late filing fee payment or you can wait for the invoice to appear in your account and pay the fee through your online account. Please note, if you do not pay these application fees, you will not be invoiced your examination, Experiential Training and material fees. This will delay your registration in the process.

    • I have submitted my application and supporting documents. How soon can I receive the study material?

      Once you have registered for your licensing examinations, you will be invoiced for the examination and study material fees.  Both the examination and the material fees must be paid in full by no later than 30 business days prior to your examination date in order to be fully registered for the examination. The material becomes available in late April to all candidates who have paid for the study material fees by the April deadline. You will receive information on how to pick up or request a shipping order for your material.  You will also receive the study material in electronic format via your online account once payment is received.  After the April/May in person pick up dates, the material is only available by way of a shipping request at an added fee to be paid online to the shipping company. No in-person pick up will be available after the posted distribution period each year.

  • Articling
    • When am I eligible to begin articling?
      Candidates registered in the Lawyer Licensing Process may begin the Articling Program with an approved Articling Principal at any time upon completion of a J.D or LL.B or receipt of an N.C.A Certificate of Qualification.
    • What are the fees associated with the Articling Program?

      The Articling Program/ Law Practice Program fee is currently $2,800 (plus applicable taxes). It is our practice to make the Articling invoice due date the same as the date that the invoice is issued. The fee must be paid in full in order for you to be eligible to be called to the bar.

      Articles of Clerkship, Joint Articles of Clerkship, Part-Time Articles of Clerkship and Certificate of Service forms must be completed and filed by or on behalf of a candidate who is registered in the Lawyer Licensing Process, no later than 10 business days after the start/end of the articling placement. Late filing of the aforementioned forms, results in a late filing fee of $100 (plus applicable taxes).

      The Articling Program Fee applies to all candidates who complete the Articling Program regardless of whether the articling placement is abridged for any length of time.

      Candidates who apply for an articling abridgment, exemption, or national/international articling placement will be invoiced an application fee of $160 (plus applicable taxes).  A detailed Lawyer Licensing Process Fees Schedule is available on the Law Society website and will be updated with any changes annually in/or around January.

    • How is the 10 month articling placement calculated?

      An articling placement that starts on January 9, ends 10 months later on November 9. If the anticipated end date of a placement falls on a weekend or statutory holiday, the candidate's last day will be the Friday prior. Please refer to the table below for the 10 month Articling terms.

      Start

      End

      January

      November

      February

      December

      March

      January (Call to the Bar)

      April

      February

      May

      March

      June

      April

      July

      May

      August

      June (Call to the Bar)

      September

      July

      October

      August

      November

      September (Call to the Bar)

      December

      October

    • When do I need to start my placement if I want to be called to the bar in June of the following year?
      The 10 month placement must begin before the scheduled August deadline in order to be called to the bar in June of the following year and the candidate must take advantage of the Early Filing option. 
    • Something has changed during my placement. What does The Law Society need to know?

      The following changes during the placement should be reported to The Law Society as soon as possible:

      1. Consideration of withdrawal or termination of the placement
      2. Changing from one Principal to another, within or outside of the law firm/organization
      3. Temporary Assignment of the Articling Placement
      4. If a full time placement changes to a part time articling placement or to a joint articling placement
      5. A candidate's extended leave of absence
      6. Request for Abridgment to the Articling Placement, based on compassionate grounds  
      7. Request for Abridgment to the Articling Placement, based on prior legal experience
      8. When a candidate would like to continue working after the placement ends and before their call to the bar. See Supervision Agreement
      9. Change to Principal or candidate contact information
    • What if I am absent from the articling placement?

      The Law Society will recognize a maximum of 10 days off within the 10 month articling placement. These days can be used for (but are not limited to) vacation, study, exams, or sickness. When more than 10 days are taken by an articling candidate during the placement, this time must be added in business days to the end of the articling term. 

      For example, if the student takes 15 days, 5 days will need to be added on to the end of their articling term. You may not shorten the length of articles by not taking time off during your placement. 

    • Exam Study Policy

      If you are taking your first attempt at writing the Solicitor Licensing Examination or the Barrister Licensing Examination during the articling placement, you are entitled to be provided with up to a total of 7 Study Days free of articling placement duties per Licensing Examination.

      This consists of: 5 days of uninterrupted study time, 1 day to write the Licensing Examination, and 1 free day.

       

      Example #1:

           7 Barrister Study Days                                                   14 days uninterrupted Study Time
      + 7  Solicitor Study Days                                                 - the 10 allowable days off for the articling term   
      14 days uninterrupted study time                       therefore  4 days must be added to the end of the placement

       

      Example #2:

      10 allowable days off for the articling term  
      - 7 Examination Study Days for one exam    
      3 days remaining (for vacation day, sick day etc..)

       

      There is no such requirement to provide Study Days for a candidate’s subsequent attempt(s) at writing either Licensing Examination.

      Principals are not required to provide any minimum number of vacation days during the course of an articling placement. The provision of vacation days, sick days and personal days is a private matter to be agreed upon between a Principal and an articling candidate. These should be discussed when negotiating the terms of the articling placement employment. 



      Should you exceed these 10 days as a result of illness, you may choose to extend your articling placement by the requisite number of days to ensure that your articling term is a full 10 months, or you may choose to apply for a Compassionate Abridgement.

    • How many Lawyer Licensing Process Candidates may a lawyer supervise at any one time?

      Lawyers may directly supervise no more than two candidates at any one time. This includes articling candidates, candidates under a Supervision Agreement and Law Practice Program candidates.

    • May I continue to work in a legal capacity up until my call to the bar? What do I need to file?

      Yes, candidates who have completed the Experiential Training Program requirement are permitted to work under the direct supervision of a lawyer, provided they have filed a Supervision Agreement which has been approved by the Law Society. Supervision Agreements will generally be approved for a period of up to four months or until the next applicable call to the bar ceremony.

    • What should I do if I have any concerns with my articling placement?

      You may send a message through your online account or call an Articling Administrator at 416-947-3315 or 1-800-668-7380 ext.3315 for further assistance. Our office will make best efforts to assist you and direct you to all available resources to address your concerns.  

    • How can I become a Commissioner of Oaths?

      An articling candidate or summer law student seeking to become a commissioner for taking affidavits should apply prior to the start of the articling placement, or before commencing employment.

      For more information, you may visit: https://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/courts/notary_public/

  • Enhanced Reporting Requirements for Articling
  • Licensing Examinations
    • How do I prepare to write the Licensing Examinations?

      No external material or information is required for preparation to write the licensing examinations which are open book. You are provided access to the online study materials that support all examined competencies. In addition to the study materials, which you will receive approximately six weeks in advance of the examinations, the Law Society offers on-line resources on how to study for and write the competency-based Licensing Examination.

    • Can I write the Licensing Examinations if I have not yet secured articles?
      Yes.
    • Can I write one examination at a time, for example, the Barrister Licensing Examination in June and the Solicitor Licensing Examination in November?

      Yes. You may write both Licensing Examinations at one of the scheduled sessions or you may write one at a time in any session you prefer.

      If there are circumstances that prevent you from attending the examination session you have registered for, you must notify the Licensing Process, Licensing and Accreditation Department in writing and in advance of the examination date that you wish to defer writing the examination(s).

    • What happens if I fail one or both Licensing Examinations?

      You will be able to rewrite the Licensing Examination(s) at any scheduled session in the same licensing year.

      Please note that if you write the examinations for the first time in March and you fail, your next opportunity to write will be June which falls into the following licensing year. You will be into the next licensing period and are therefore required to purchase the updated study materials for that new licensing year in order to study for the examinations. Please refer to the Lawyer Licensing Process Policies for further information, the maximum number of permitted attempts, or see question further below.

    • If I am articling, will I be entitled to the same amount of study days to prepare for a second write of a Licensing Examination, and will that constitute an amendment to my articling contract with the articling employer?
      No, you will not be entitled to any formal uninterrupted study days during your articling placement to prepare for a rewrite. You will be responsible for studying on your own time and to make personal arrangements to do so either independently or in conjunction with your articling employer.
    • How many times am I permitted to write one or more failed Licensing Examination(s)?

      You are required to complete all components of the Lawyer Licensing Process within your Licensing Term. Your Licensing Term commences on the Date of Commencement of your Licensing Cycle which is May 1 of the year in which you submitted your Application to the Society or May 1 of the following year as stipulated by the Licensing and Accreditation Department when you were registered into the Licensing Process and ends three years from that date. During your Licensing Term you may not write either the Barrister Licensing Examination or the Solicitor Licensing Examination more than three times, or, if you have been authorized by the Executive Director, Professional Development and Competence pursuant to section 12.20 of the Lawyer Licensing Process Policies, more than four times. 

      The Executive Director, Professional Development and Competence will approve your request to write a Licensing Examination a fourth time during your Licensing Term if you establish to the satisfaction of the Executive Director, Professional Development and Competence that there exist extraordinary circumstances that would affect or could be expected to affect your ability to successfully complete the Licensing Examination.

      If you are rewriting a Licensing Examination in a subsequent licensing year, you will be required to purchase the study materials for that new licensing year. 

  • Medical Absence Form