There aren’t many places in the world where it’s better to be a lawyer than in Canada. However, if there’s one country where there are more opportunities for up-and-coming attornies, it’s the one directly to the south. The U.S. has one of the world’s most robust legal systems, and lawyers there typically earn six-figure salaries.
One of the things professionals worry about when they consider moving to another country is whether or not their degrees will be recognized in their new country. Can you work as a lawyer in the U.S. with a Canadian law degree? Continue reading to get the answer to that question and others about practicing law in “The States.”
Is a law degree from Canada valid in the United States?
The U.S. and Canada have many things in common, including their legal systems. If you were the senior counsel for a law firm in Ontario, you may have what it takes to fulfill the same role in New York.
A degree in legal studies from Canada can be practiced in the U.S. and vice versa. However, a Canadian lawyer needs to study American law as opposed to Canadian law, and then pass a U.S. bar exam in order to practice law in the U.S.
Malliha Wilson, for example, received her law degree from York University in Canada and went on to practice human rights, labour law, and serve as a special legal advisor for the Investment Management Corporation of Ontario. Furthermore, she was the first visible minority to serve as the Assistant Deputy Attorney General of the Ontario Government where she brought several notable cases before the Supreme Court of Canada.
Now, Malliha is the founder and senior counsel of Nava Wilson LLP where she continues her struggle to secure human rights for all. Her long list of credentials and experience in human rights and corporate law qualify Malliha to practice law anywhere on the planet, including Long Island in the U.S.
What do you have to do to practice law in the U.S.?
Even though you can earn a law degree in Canada and work as an attorney in the U.S., there is a process you have to go through. Before you can practice law in the U.S., you have to pass a bar exam. Furthermore, each state in the U.S. has its own qualifications for admission to the state bar.
You shouldn’t feel bad about having to take the state bar exam. Even American lawyers like Howard Fensterman have to pass the bar to practice law in the U.S. In fact, Mr. Fensterman has been admitted to the bar in three states.
How do you land a job with a U.S. law firm?
The U.S. has plenty of great opportunities for young lawyers, but the competition for top positions is fierce. Landing your dream job will require planning and building your personal profile to increase your standing as a top prospect.
Believe it or not, social media is one of the best tools at your disposal for getting recognized by recruiters. Linkedin is the best platform for connecting with prospective employers as it’s like Facebook for professionals. By posting your resume on Linkedin and creating content that displays your expertise, you can build your personal brand and become someone to whom recruiters pay attention.
The United States and Canada share bonds that go beyond sharing a border that stretches over 5,000 miles. We share many common values, especially democracy and human rights. Furthermore, we have common legal standards and expectations from our legal professionals.
If you earn your law degree at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University and want to work as an attorney for Abrams Fensterman in N.Y., you can pursue that goal. Many attorneys with a law degree from Canada have come to the United States and excelled, from being involved in notable cases to becoming a managing partner of a prestigious law firm. Once you pass the state bar exam, you can follow the footsteps of other Canadian lawyers who’ve had great success in the U.S.