Vision & History

The Challenge

Each year, hundreds of internationally-trained lawyers immigrate to Canada, and hundreds of Canadian citizens return to Canada after completing law degrees abroad (collectively, “ITLs”). 

Many of these ITLs face unique obstacles in trying to establish their legal careers in Canada. They may have to become proficient in a second language, complete law exams while working full-time jobs or establish a professional network from scratch — to name but a few common challenges.

In addition, ITLs are sometimes made to feel unwelcome or unwanted in the legal profession. You can read more about the barriers that ITLs face gaining entry to Canada’s legal profession in this 2017 report

Global Lawyers of Canada exists to provide ITLs with a voice and a community, and to celebrate the strengths that ITLs bring to Canada’s legal community. 

Our Vision

Global Lawyers of Canada (“GLC”) is a national professional association that promotes a diverse and competitive legal market in Canada by representing and supporting internationally-trained and globally-minded lawyers through advocacy, community engagement and professional development.

GLC serves ITLs that wish to practice law in Canada, as well as Canadian lawyers that wish to pursue careers abroad. Our association is open to all individuals who are supportive of diversity and inclusiveness in the legal profession. 

GLC provides its members with opportunities to network and socialize, and also advocates on behalf of its members at provincial or national bodies. We believe that our work of convening ITLs and Canadian-trained lawyers and creating opportunities for them to engage will help change perceptions of ITLs in the Canadian legal profession and broader economy. 

We are excited about the possibilities that ITLs’ increased integration will create for lawyers and the Canadians who are served by them. We firmly believe that firms, employers and clients all stand to benefit from a legal community that includes more ITLs — who tend to have experience working abroad, knowledge of foreign best practices and access to personal and professional connections in and outside of Canada. 

Please note that we do not provide advice on NCA exams or assessments. If you require further information about the NCA process, please consult our Practicing in Canada page to be directed to useful resources.

Our History

GLC was founded in Calgary, Alberta, by three internationally-trained lawyers, each coming from different common and civil law backgrounds.

Agnes Bielecki, Ximena Espana and Daniel Lo met in 2014 during their articling year and quickly bonded over the similarities in their journeys to qualify as lawyers in Canada. They soon recognized that they were all eager to give back to the ITL community, and discussed the need for an association that would support and connect ITLs. 

The founders started a dialogue with law firms, businesses, governmental organizations, educational institutions, non-profits and the wider community.

They were also supported in their efforts by members of GLC’s founding board: Andrew Duran, Philippa Kentish, Bill de Jong, Ejeme Okhiria, Lara Pella, Shana Wolch and Roland Hung. In no time, support for GLC spread!  

GLC’s inaugural launch was successfully held in Calgary in November 2015 at McCarthy Tétrault LLP’s offices in Calgary.

The event attracted 150 attendees from business, law and beyond, and was sponsored by McCarthy Tétrault LLP, Imperial Oil, and Perkarsky & Co. Chima Nkemdirim, Q.C., was our keynote speaker. 

Nowadays GLC has countless members representing more than 31 nationalities (both in Canada and abroad).

Also since 2019, GLC begun a carefully planned expansion within Canada, with current chapters in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario.

Each chapter hosts its own local professional development and networking events, facilitates mentoring opportunities for our members; all while advocating under one overarching national ITL umbrella, for the interests of ITLs in all provinces/territories in Canada.

Last but not least, we are open to consider future expansion locations in Canada on a case by case basis (including Quebec), as well as any related sponsorship opportunities. Please email us anytime to discuss details, as well as the minimum requirements to be met for our approval.