New program for internationally trained lawyers

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​​New program for internationally trained lawyers launched at Faculty of Law…

In response to growing demand, the Government of Ontario has partnered with the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law to launch the first ever bridging program aimed at internationally trained lawyers seeking accreditation to practice law in Ontario.

Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Michael Chan launched the program at a ceremony attended by Mayo Moran, dean of the Faculty of Law, and other legal luminaries: Derry Miller, treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada, Stéphan Rivard, president of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, Chris Pinnington, managing partner with Fraser Milner Casgrain, and Sowmya Vishwanatha, a committee member of the ITL working group and an internationally trained lawyer.

“We have tremendous international talent, a pool of talent here in Ontario for which we already have bridging programs, such as pharmacists, engineers and nurses, who are all internationally trained but are not currently in the job that they want. We are launching this program today for internationally trained lawyers with a $4 million dollar investment so we can convert this international talent to contribute to the labour market in Ontario and gain full participation in our economy,” Chan said.

“Our economic prosperity depends on attracting skilled newcomers from around the world and retaining those people here. This program will help Ontario gain an economic advantage sooner.”

Vishwanatha spoke passionately about her personal experiences and how U of T has already made a difference for at least one internationally trained lawyer – her.

She said U of T “opened doors” and helped her to connect with important agencies, learn intricate aspects of the Canadian legal system and secure a bursary to participate in the Rotman School of Management’s Business Edge for Internationally Trained Women Professionals program. Vishwanatha said the hurdles for internationally trained lawyers go well beyond completing exams, a gap the new program hopes to fill.

The Internationally Trained Lawyer (ITL) Program will serve approximately 100 lawyers each year who come to Canada from around the world and wish to practice law in Ontario. It will operate at the Faculty of Law, in collaboration with stakeholders including the Law Society of Upper Canada, the National Committee on Accreditation, Toronto Regional Immigrant Employment Council, Pro Bono Law Ontario and Pro Bono Students Canada, as well as a number of law firms.

The program will provide a comprehensive continuum of services, including workplace experience, that address the needs of international lawyers from the time they begin the certification process to their successful employment in Canada in their field.

Services for ITL participants will include an information centre, academic training, language referrals, workplace experience (including volunteer and paid job placements), career services (including job search skills, resume writing, interview preparation, career specific language training, and understanding cultural and workplace norms), employment counselling and membership in a centre association.

“We are extremely grateful to the Government of Ontario for its commitment to internationally trained lawyers and for their leadership in addressing an issue that has long challenged our justice system,” said Moran. “We look forward to creating an outstanding program that will benefit internationally trained lawyers, the people of Ontario and the Canadian justice system.”