Articling vs. Law Practice Program

While many who read this blog are going through the NCA process or thinking about starting the NCA process, some of you may be thinking about the next step. What happens AFTER I’ve completed all my exams?

In a previous post I wrote about getting your Certificate once you’ve passed all your exams.

I’ve also written a few posts on applying to the Law Society of Upper Canada and writing the licensing exams.

This post will focus on the two options the Law Society of Upper Canada offers to complete the Lawyer Licensing Process. These two options are the Articling Program and the Law Practice Program.

Please note that the following information is for the Law Society of Upper Canada’s licensing process only, if you are thinking about applying to another law society there will be different requirements to complete the licensing process.

First of all, what is the Lawyer Licensing Process?

The Lawyer Licensing Process is the process that all applicants to the Law Society of Upper Canada must go through to become a licensed lawyer in Ontario. For information on the licensing process, please visit the LSUC’s website.

One requirement of the licensing process is the completion of the Articling Program or the Law Practice Program.

Articling Program

Articling is a term with which many law students and lawyers are familiar. Articling in Ontario generally consists of a 10 month placement working for an Articling Principal.

Many law firms, sole practitioners, and organizations hire articling students each year. If you choose this avenue to complete the LSUC licensing requirement, you will need to apply for an articling placement and ensure that you are working for an approved Principal.

Applying for an articling position can be time-consuming and often confusing, especially for NCA students and those who have foreign qualifications. Law students in Ontario often have the chance to meet with representatives from law firms on campus at job fairs and interview days. Foreign trained law students don’t have that luxury. However, finding an articling placement is possible if you are willing to put in some work and do some research.

These are some suggestions to assist you in finding an articling placement, obviously everyone will have different methods to job seeking, so do what works for you and consider some of these tips.

First, it is helpful to do a basic online search for law firms in Ontario based on your interests. For example, if you are interested in criminal law, a search will usually bring up some of the bigger criminal law firms. Most law firms will have a page on their site with information on applying to their articling program.

A search on a job site can also yield good results. Many smaller firms may advertise available articling placements on a third-party site (e.g. Monster or Workopolis), so become familiar with job sites that allow you to view available jobs in Ontario.

Also, don’t be afraid to get creative and be assertive. If you know of a firm or organization that does work that interests you and you can’t seem to find any information on their website about available jobs, a call or an email to the company can often provide you with at least a contact name to send your resume to.

I admit that looking for articling placements is difficult. There are a lot of law students competing for a small number of positions, so don’t get discouraged if you feel like you’ve sent off 50 applications and received no replies. Keep searching for new firms and keep sending out your applications, eventually you will find a placement that is the right fit for you.

Basic information on articling can be found on the LSUC’s website.

Law Practice Program

The Law Practice Program (LPP) is a newer program offered as an alternative to articling.

I admit that I am not as familiar with this program as I did the traditional Articling Program, however I have heard positive things about the Law Practice Program and it is a great option for those who don’t do an articling placement.

The Law Practice Program is an eight month program that consists of a four month training course and a four month work placement.

Currently in Ontario, there are two LPPs: The English program at Ryerson University and the French program at the University of Ottawa.

Information about both those programs can be found on each university’s website and general information on the LPP can be found on the LSUC’s website.


Whether you decide to complete the Articling Program or the Law Practice Program, be mindful of dates and deadlines to put in your applications. Many law firms and organizations will have a date by which all applicants must have submitted their articling applications. This deadline can be a year or more before the actual start of the job, meaning if you were looking to begin an articling placement in August 2017, you may have to submit your application in August 2016 to be considered. Not all companies have these deadlines though so don’t panic if you miss one deadline, many other firms/organizations will likely still be accepting applications.

The Law Practice Program has important dates and deadlines too that should be paid attention to if you decide to take part in the program.

A quick note: whether you choose to article or complete the LPP, remember that you need to have applied to the Law Society of Upper Canada and paid your fees before you can begin your articling or the LPP. Make sure you are aware of how to apply to the Law Society. Look at the Lawyer Licensing Process page and links on the LSUC’s website for information on the admissions application.

A second note: the Articling Program and LPP applies to those who have graduated from a law school in Canada or abroad. If you are already a lawyer in another country, there may be different requirements to getting licensed as a lawyer in Ontario. Check out the LSUC’s website for information on Lawyers from Outside Ontario or call the LSUC if you’re not sure what you need to complete all the components of the licensing process.

Good luck to everyone writing NCA exams next month!

  1. Karen S said:

    Thanks for your post! Can you please clarify when can one start Articling? Whether during the course of writing NCA challenge exams or after all exams are successfully passed?

    • To begin articling you have to be admitted as a member of a law society. For foreign trained lawyers, you should be done or almost done your NCA exams and be ready to apply for your Certificate of Qualification from the NCA before you apply to a law society. If you are applying to the Law Society of Upper Canada, you would: finish your NCA exams, apply to the NCA for a Certificate of Qualification, apply to the Law Society of Upper Canada for membership, then begin articling.
      You cannot begin your articling until you are a member of a law society. However, you should ideally be looking for articling positions during the NCA process as most firms hire their students at least a year in advance.

  2. Karen S said:

    Thanks for your post!can you please specify when the Articling cam be started? Whether during the course of appearing for NCA challenge exams or once all NCA exams are successfully passed?

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