Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.Stephen R. Covey
Every year, hundreds of foreign-trained lawyers immigrate to Canada, along with hundreds of Canadian citizens returning to Canada after acquiring law degrees from overseas. Many of these internationally trained lawyers will face hurdles and obstacles in the pursuit of establishing their legal career.
From language barriers to challenging conversion exams, internationally trained lawyers work hard to be able to integrate into Canadian society. However, despite their hard work and dedication to their profession, internationally trained lawyers are often faced with prejudice and stigma, and are made to feel unwelcome in a country that prides itself in diversity and inclusion.
We are here to provide internationally trained lawyers with a voice, and to show that we all succeed when we embrace our differences.
For more detail, please read the report by Lauren Heuser which highlights the key barriers foreign-educated lawyers face in Canada’s licensing and employment processes, and makes recommendations for how unnecessary barriers can be mitigated or dismantled (read here).
Global Lawyers of Canada (“GLC”) is a national professional association that seeks to promote a diverse and competitive legal market in Canada by representing and supporting foreign-educated and globally minded legal professionals through advocacy, community engagement and professional development.
The aim of the association is to represent internationally educated and trained lawyers that wish to practice law in Canada, and also Canadian lawyers that wish to pursue a career internationally. We believe that by providing a forum for international and Canadian trained lawyers to engage, all lawyers in Canada will be able to realize the inherent value and skills that each of us can bring to the Canadian legal market, and in turn allow us to excel in global legal markets.
In a time of technological disruption and the ever increasing global footprint of law firms and corporate in-house departments, the value of what a foreign-trained and globally minded legal professional can bring has never been greater.
Our organization is a professional network of internationally trained lawyers and friends that are interested in diversity and inclusion. We provide opportunities for members to network and socialize, and also provide a platform for advocacy initiatives on behalf of members.
We do not provide advice on NCA exams and assessments as that is not within our scope. We do encourage those with NCA questions to consult our Practicing in Canada page for more information.
GLC was founded in Calgary, Alberta, by three foreign-trained lawyers, each coming from a different common and civil law background. They had met in 2014 in Calgary during their articling year to discuss the need for supporting and connecting internationally trained lawyers. Finding more similarities than differences in their journey to qualify as lawyers in Canada, they were eager to give back to the community. Through continued dialogue with the business industry, law firms, governmental organizations, educational institutions, non-profit associations, representatives of the legal industry and the wider community, strong support for GLC began to spread.
GLC’s founders are:
Along with the founders, GLC’s founding board of directors include: Andrew Duran, Philippa Kentish, Bill de Jong, Ejeme Okhiria, Lara Pella, Shana Wolch and Roland Hung.
GLC’s inaugural launch was on November 5, 2015 in Calgary. Our keynote speaker was Chima Nkemdirim, Q.C., and was sponsored by McCarthy Tétrault LLP, Imperial Oil and Perkarsky & Co. There were over 150 attendees from the business industry, legal community and the wider community.
Through continued dialogue with the Canadian business industry, law firms, governmental organizations, educational institutions and non-profit associations, strong support for a platform for internationally trained lawyers to advocate for diversity and inclusion began to spread.
Currently, we have more than 300 members with over 31 nationalities represented. We have chapters in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario, and are proud to serve in Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Vancouver.