Canada - Alberta International Trade in Legal Services

Canada - Alberta International Trade in Legal Services


Is there legislation governing the legal sector

The Legal Profession Act:

Under what title do lawyers practise?

Barrister and Solicitor

How does an individual lawyer obtain a "licence" to practise law? How often must this be renewed?




To become a lawyer for the first time, a person must: Have a minimum Bachelor of Laws from a Canadian Common Law university (LLB or JD)) or a certificate of qualification from the National Committee on Accreditation of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada certifying that the applicant's academic credentials are at least equivalent to a Canadian common law LLB. Applicants must complete a one year apprenticeship (articling) with a practitioner of the Bar of Alberta; the Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education (CPLED) training program - this is an eight-month program that includes class sessions and online training that must be completed successfully while articling; upon successful completion of all these steps lawyers must register with the Alberta Law Society.

Does this entitle the holder to practise throughout the country? If the law license only permits one to practice on a sub-national level, please explain the jurisdictional limits


The holder can practise in the territory of Alberta and, pursuant to two national mobility agreements, lawyers admitted in any of the provinces or territories of Canada (other than Quebec) may become licensed in any other province or territory without passing an examination. These permanent mobility rights will be extended to mobility to and from the Barreau du Québec under a new National Mobility Agreement expected to come into force before the end of 2014. In addition, lawyers can practise temporarily, for a maximum of 100 days, in any of the following:  British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island.

Are there certain activities that are "reserved" to those who are licensed to practise law in the jurisdiction?

Appearing in court and advising on the law of Alberta is reserved to Alberta licensed lawyers and other Canadian lawyers pursuant to the national mobility agreements.

Do you need to hold local nationality to be eligible to practise law?


What legal forms can lawyers work in? (e.g. self employment, partnership, limited liability partnership, multi-disciplinary partnership, incorporation)

Self-employment, partnerships, limited liability, professional corporation

What other ethical or regulatory requirements must a licensed lawyer comply with? 

Rules of the Law Society of Alberta:
and a Code of Conduct:

Do law firms need to receive a "license" (or permission/approval) to practice law?

If they wish to form an LLP or a Professional corporation they need to apply to the Law Society of Alberta for a permit.

Which authority issues licences? Are there different authorities for individuals and firms? 

Law Society of Alberta



Are there any explicit rules or restrictions other than visas on fly in fly out practice of law? Ie. Do you need to obtain a licence for temporary practice?

Foreign lawyers are required to obtain a permit as a foreign legal consultant. Fly-in-fly-out practice is not permitted without a permit.

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a visa to visit clients or to market but not to practice?

See information for Canada

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a licence to establish and practise as a foreign legal consultant and what is the scope of this limited licence?

A foreign lawyer can obtain a limited licence entitling them to offer advisory services in foreign and international law (ie become a foreign legal consultant).  The foreign lawyer should contact the Alberta Law society for the applicable forms.  

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled once a foreign lawyer has been granted a limited licence (e.g. residency requirement)

For detailed information on foreign legal consultants see 'Part 2, Division 5' of The Rules of the Law Society of Alberta.

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled for a foreign lawyer to qualify for a limited licence? (e.g. prior practice)

Must have practised in own jurisdiction for at least three years.

Are foreign lawyers permitted to undertake arbitration and mediation? Yes
Are foreign lawyers allowed to appear in court under any circumstances?

No - not without becoming licensed in a Canadian jurisdiction.

Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers?



Yes.  In order to obtain a full licence to practise law in this jurisdiction, foreign lawyers must apply to the National Committee on Accreditation for evaluation of their credentials and experience. The National Committee on Accreditation establishes the educational and practising criteria an applicant must meet to be considered for admission to the Law Society. Once an applicant satisfies those criteria, he or she must follow the same process for admission as domestic graduates.


Can a foreign law firm obtain a licence to open an office?

Foreign firms are permitted to establish a commercial presence (a permanent office) to offer advisory services in foreign and international law.  There is no explicit foreign law firm licensing regime which regulates these arrangements.

Even if a foreign law firm does not require a legal licence must they register in some form in order to set up an office? (e.g. with a ministry of company affairs etc)

Foreign investment in Canada by non-Canadians is subject to a regulated review process governed by the Investment Canada Act (ICA), a federal department called Industry Canada and a federal agency called Investment Canada. The ICA provides that every foreign investor (defined by the ICA as a “non-Canadian”) must file a Notification with Industry Canada (unless the investment is specifically exempt under the ICA), every time a non-Canadian begins a new business activity in Canada or acquires control of an existing business in Canada.
Are there different types of foreign law firm 'licence'  (e.g. Joint Law Venture, stand alone foreign licence etc)

Not applicable

Is there a quota on the number of licences available?

Not applicable

Are there geographical restrictions on foreign firm licences or on the number of branches a foreign firm can have?

Not applicable

Are there "scope of practice" rules that apply directly to foreign law firms (as opposed to lawyers themselves)? (e.g. home, host, international law), if so, what are they? They can advise on home and international law.
Are there restrictions on the corporate form a foreign law firm can take?  
Are there rules about the name a foreign law firm can take? The Rules of the Law Society of Alberta, Rule 78(2) provides that a licensed foreign legal consultant when engaging in advertising or other form of marketing activity in Alberta must use the designation 'licensed foreign legal consultant', must state the country where they are qualified to give legal advice and shall not use any designation which might lead a reasonable person to conclude that the consultant is a member of the Law Society.
What entity grants a 'license' to a foreign law firm? If that entity is on the Internet, please provide the URL There is no explicit foreign law firm licensing regime which regulates these arrangements.


Are there restrictions on the ownership share of foreign lawyers in a law firm?

Foreign legal consultants who are not also licensed to practise law in Alberta may not be a partner in a limited liability partnership in Alberta, and foreign legal consultants may not own shares in a professional corporation that is carrying on the practise of law in Alberta

May a domestic lawyer be employed by a foreign lawyer or law firm?


Can a domestic lawyer enter into partnership with a foreign lawyer?


Can a domestic lawyer or domestic law firm employ a foreign lawyer?




Other useful sources or comments or links

The Law Society of Alberta:

Verified by

Federation of Law Societies of Canada (August 2014)