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The Legal Profession:

There are over 11,000 lawyers in BC, 55% of the membership is based in Vancouver.

Regulation of legal profession:

The Law Society of British Columbia is the regulatory body for the British Columbia legal profession. The primary responsibility of the Law Society under the provincial Legal Profession Act is to protect the public interest in the administration of justice.

The Canadian Bar Association British Columbia Branch is the voluntary bar association for lawyers in British Columbia.

Regulatory compliance:

Foreign lawyers wishing to practice in British Colombia must first obtain from its Law Society of British Columbia a permit to act as a practitioner of foreign law. A permit is valid for one year from the issue date shown on it, and a practitioner of foreign law may act in that capacity only while the permit remains valid.

To be eligible for a practitioner of foreign law permit, you must be a member of the legal profession in one or more foreign jurisdictions. You must have practised the law of such a foreign jurisdiction for at least three of the past five years, or undertake in writing to act as a practitioner of foreign law in British Columbia only under the direct supervision of a practitioner of foreign law who has practised law in that foreign jurisdiction for at least three of the past five years.

A practitioner of foreign law holding a valid permit may provide legal services in British Columbia respecting the law of the jurisdiction in which he or she is fully licensed to practise law, and respecting trans-jurisdictional or international legal transactions.

A practitioner of foreign law must not provide advice respecting the law of British Columbia or another Canadian jurisdiction, or deal in any way with funds that would, if accepted, held, transferred or otherwise dealt with by a lawyer, constitute trust funds, except money received on deposit for fees to be earned in the future by the practitioner.

To apply for a permit to act as a practitioner of foreign law in British Columbia, you must submit to its Law Society of British Columbia an application with proof of educational and professional qualifications.

Full information on the rules on foreign practice in British Columbia and the application process can be found on the Law Society of British Columbia’s website.

Solicitors who require a certificate of good standing to confirm date of admission and disciplinary records should contact the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Requalification:

A solicitor qualified in England and Wales who wishes to requalify as a lawyer in British Columbia must first apply to the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA). The NCA evaluates the credentials of lawyers qualified in foreign jurisdictions who wish to become a member of the bar in Canada. For further information on this stage see the main practice rights guide for Canada.

Once a person has been granted a Certificate of Qualification from the NCA, he or she can apply to the Law Society of British Columbia’s Admission Programme. This includes nine months of articles in a law firm or other legal workplace, a 10-week Professional Legal Training Course and examinations.