Graduate entry law LLB Savio Baptista, Canada

Tell us a little bit about your background...
I am a Barrister and Solicitor Licencing Candidate from Toronto, Canada specializing in real estate law. I graduated from the LLB Scots & English (Graduate Entry) program and have since been working in the legal sector.

Why did you decide to study your chosen subject at university?
The pursuit of a law degree had always been a genuine, life-long aspiration of mine, and I believed that the University of Strathclyde was the right institution to accomplish my dream. Strathclyde's Law School has a strong academic reputation and offers students the opportunity to get involved in a number of student activities such as Strathclyde Law Review.

What advice would you give to someone considering studying your course?
Your degree is earned, not given. So you need to be ready to put in the time and effort as this is the first step towards becoming a lawyer. I also highly recommend getting involved with societies associated with the law school. This is a great way to network with people in the legal industry and build your CV with the right experience and skills.

Can you tell us about the NCA process to become a lawyer in Canada?
In order to become a law society member in a Canadian common law jurisdiction, you must first have your legal education and experience assessed by the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA). After your application is assessed, you are then given a list of requirements to complete within 5 years. Upon successful completion of these requirements, you are issued a Certificate of Qualification. This achievement means that you are now considered to have knowledge of Canadian law at a level similar to someone who graduated from a Canadian law school.

What is the next step after completing the NCA process? Which law society did you apply to for membership?
You will need to apply for membership in the law society of the Canadian common law jurisdiction that you wish to practise law. I have applied to become a Barrister and Solicitor through the Law Society of Ontario.

What are your final steps towards becoming a lawyer?
I have to complete my Articles of Clerkship, which is similar to a traineeship in Scotland, and write my Licensing examinations.

Where are you working now?
I am a Student-at-Law at Schwarz Law Partners LLP in Toronto, Canada. This is also where I am fulfilling my articling requirement for membership into the Law Society of Ontario.

What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is constantly learning new things about real estate law as well as exposure into other areas of law such as residential tenancy law.

As well, I am working with seasoned legal professionals that I can learn from and who also push me to take on more challenging tasks.

What advice would you give to someone completing their Articles of Clerkship?
I would highly recommend completing the following legal research certifications:

  • LexCanLearn Legal Research Certification;
  • Westlaw UK Basic Certification;
  • Westlaw UK Advanced Certification;
  • LexisLibrary Foundation Certification; and
  • LexisLibrary Advanced Certification.

It is crucial to have strong research skills as you be assigned legal research tasks from time to time. By taking the time to develop your research skills beforehand, you will be able to find the answer to the legal scenarios or questions posed by your supervising lawyer with relative ease. 

How did your time at Strathclyde help you prepare for this role?
Quite a number of my assignments in law school were scenario based, so this experience has been helpful whenever I am assigned legal research tasks. As well, I credit these assignments for improving my writing skills. In my role, I am constantly writing emails, memos, and letters, and being able to write in a clear and concise manner is extremely important when communicating with clients, colleagues, lawyers from other firms, and third parties.

Any final points, or words of wisdom?
If you're thinking about becoming a lawyer in Canada with a UK law degree, you should speak to practising lawyers who have completed the entire process and are willing to share their experiences. They can provide you with the right guidance on how to approach each stage.

Finally, from my experience, I highly recommend working in a legal environment while completing your NCA requirements. This will open the door to better opportunities once you are ready to begin articling.