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Working as a Lawyer [NOC 4112]

Job Description

Lawyers advise clients on legal matters, draft legal documents and represent clients before courts, tribunals and administrative bodies.

As a lawyer, you perform the following duties:

  • tell clients about their legal rights and all matters related to law
  • research legal precedents and gather evidence
  • argue clients’ cases before courts of law, tribunals and administrative bodies
  • draft legal documents such as real estate transactions, wills, divorces and contracts and prepare statements of legal opinions
  • negotiate settlements of civil disputes
  • do management tasks related to the practice of law
  • may act as mediator, conciliator or arbitrator
  • may act as executor, trustee or guardian in estate and family law matters

Source:  WorkBC Career Profile [4112]

Industry Overview

Over 11,000 lawyers practise law in British Columbia. In BC, lawyers are qualified as both barristers (who work primarily as counsel in court or before tribunals) and solicitors (who do varied office work for clients, including giving corporate or tax advice, handing real estate transactions, drafting contracts and preparing all types of documents). You may choose to practise as a barrister, solicitor or both.

The Lower Mainland currently has a possible over-supply of lawyers. As such, you may increase your chance of finding work if you are willing to relocate to other areas of the province. High grades from a recognized law school also improve your job prospects.

There is a need for lawyers with a specialization in areas such as:

  • Aboriginal rights
  • international law
  • intellectual property, patents and trademarks
  • environmental law
  • Internet law
  • entertainment law
  • immigration law
  • construction law
  • mediation

Downturns in the economy may cause a decline in demand for some legal services such as estate planning and real estate transactions.

Sources: WorkBC, Law Society of British Columbia

Job Outlook in BC

Lawyers

job outlook for lawyers

Chart from WorkBC

WorkBC provides job openings in BC regions from 2015-2025:

Region Expected # of
Job Openings
Average Annual Employment Growth Expected
Increase in Employment
Vancouver Island 460 0.5% 55
Lower Mainland / Southwest 2,810 1.3% 1,040
Thompson-Okanagan 210 1.0% 65
Cariboo 80 1.9% 30
North Coast & Nechako 110 -2.9% 100
Northeast 100 -1.8% 90

You can learn more about working as a lawyer in BC from:

Types of Employers

Lawyers work in many settings including:

  • law firms
  • prosecutor’s offices
  • federal, provincial and municipal government departments
  • various business establishments

You may also be self-employed.

Salary

In BC, the median annual salary for lawyers is $106,638 a year.

You are typically paid a salary if you work for government agencies or large companies. If you work for law firms you are usually paid according to the number of hours you work.

Partners at law firms usually get a percentage of the firm’s profits as well.

Job Bank Canada provides annual wages for lawyers in BC regions:

annual wages for lawyers in BC regions

Source: Job Bank, Wage Report

Sources: Career Cruising database (Profile for Lawyer), WorkBC

Working Hours

As a lawyer you often work long hours, typically between 8 and 11 hours a day. During trials or big negotiations, this can stretch to 15 or 16 hours a day. Weekend work is also common.

You may have more regular hours if you work for government agencies or businesses.

Skills, Education and Experience

Skills

  • excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • ability to demonstrate logical thinking, with enjoyment of arguments and complex ideas
  • strong negotiation skills
  • interest in researching legal precedents and gathering evidence
  • excellent ability to work well under pressure
  • excellent attention to detail
  • analytical
  • excellent people skills
  • ability to demonstrate and maintain high ethical standards

Sources: WorkBC & Career Cruising

Education and Experience

To practice law in British Columbia you must:

  • Complete a law degree from a recognized institution, which is generally three years of graduate study
  • Complete the Law Society of British Columbia’s admission program
  • Be registered as a member of the Law Society of British Columbia

Qualifications

This occupation is regulated in British Columbia.

In order to practice law in British Columbia you must be a member of the Law Society of British Columbia.

All applicants to the Law Society are required to complete the Law Society Admission Program, which includes a 10 week Professional Legal Training Course, two qualification examinations, and nine months of articles.

The Law Society must also be satisfied that you are of good character before being permitted to practise law. For more information, contact:

For further information on licensing and membership see:

Internationally trained and accredited Lawyers

If you have a law degree from a country other than Canada you must first obtain either a Canadian LL.B. degree or a Certificate of Qualification issued by the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA).

With either of these qualifications, you may then apply to enrol in the Law Society Admission Program (LSAP).

To apply for a Certificate of Qualification, contact the National Committee on Accreditation. Upon review of your completed application, the NCA will advise you whether you must complete further study at a Canadian law school or pass certain examinations set by the NCA. It is your responsibility to arrange for completion of the NCA’s requirements.

For more information:

Finding Jobs

You’ll find job advertisements in local newspapers, trade journals, and electronic sources, as well as through professional associations’ publications.

Local Newspapers

You can look at the Vancouver Sun & The Province at Vancouver Public Library for free. Check the job postings daily and the careers section in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesdays and Saturdays and in The Province on Sundays.

Job Freeway

  • Available online or in print at the Central Library
    NOTE: You can only access this database from the Central Library or VPL branch libraries. Access is NOT available from home or outside the Library.

Online Job Postings

  • Indeed.com
    Find jobs posted on a multitude of company career sites and job boards.

Professional Associations’ Career Resources

Identifying the Right Position

When you browse job advertisements, you’ll find a range of different job titles that are relevant.

For lawyers, look for these related job titles:

  • Advocate, Legal
  • Attorney
  • Crown prosecutor
  • Barrister
  • Corporate counsel
  • Legal advisor
  • Legal Aid Lawyer
  • Solicitor
  • Defence Counsel
  • In-house Legal Counsel
  • Litigator
  • Queen’s Counsel

Source: NOC 4112

Creating a List of Potential Employers

You can use directories to produce lists of employers in the legal sector in Vancouver or the Lower Mainland. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring.

  • British Columbia Legal Telephone Directory
    Available at Central Library 340.05 B86
  • Directory / The Canadian Bar Association British Columbia
    Available at Central Library 340.09711 C21b
  • Reference Canada
    Click on “Start Search” beside Canadian Businesses, then select the “Advanced Search” button.
    Select both “Keyword/SIC/NAICS” under Business Type and “City” under Geography.
    In the top search box enter “law” and click LOOKUP.
    Select the appropriate headings.
    Lower down, select the Province, choose the cities, and click the “View Results” button.
    NOTE: You can access this database from a Library computer. If you are using a computer from outside the Library, you will need a Vancouver Public Library card to login to this database. After clicking on the database name, you will be asked to enter your library card number and PIN (usually last four digits of your telephone number).

Applying for a Job

In Canada, employers usually expect to receive a resume or curriculum vitae and a cover letter. These should identify the position you are applying for and summarize your relevant experience.

Use the library catalogue to find books on writing resumes and cover letters specific to your industry.

To learn about applying for jobs in Canada, use the following guides:

Getting Help from Industry Sources

Industry Associations

Associations for lawyers in BC and Canada can provide information and assistance. Registration and fees are required for membership.

Industry Journals

Search the Vancouver Public Library catalogue for journals related to your profession. Examples at the Central Library and online:

  • BarTalk/ Canadian Bar Association BC