Becoming a Lawyer The same process for everyone: Get a CEGEP degree. Do an undergraduate degree in law. (Depending on the program, it can take three or four years.) Pass the bar exams in the province where you want to work. You might have to take bar courses, which take four to eight months. Complete a six-month articling period. Articling students aren’t quite lawyers. They can’t wear a lawyer’s white collar when they go before judges, or call themselves “Maître”, a title for lawyers in Quebec.
Lawyers Wear Various Hats 50 % are in private practice 25 % work in the public or para-public sectors 25 % work for businesses or other organizations
Crown Prosecutor This lawyer presents cases against people accused of crimes. The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty. In Québec the official name for prosecutors is “criminal and penal prosecuting attorney”. Prosecutors do not want to win their cases at all costs. Their priority is to discover the truth. Prosecutors are public servants employed by the Minister of Justice. There are about 450 prosecutors in Quebec.
Defence Lawyer This lawyer represents people accused of crimes. She defends them by presenting evidence that shows they are innocent, or that raises a doubt about their guilt. Anyone arrested has the right to contact a lawyer. Defence lawyers have a system that allows people who are arrested to contact one of these lawyers seven days a week, 24 hours a day to get advice.
International Lawyer Lawyers sometimes work for international organizations, such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund or the International Bureau for Children’s Rights. They also work for multinational corporations. To practice in another country, lawyers must usually repeat at least part of their training in the new country. Lawyers Without Borders: a non-profit group worth knowing! International lawyers often have extra training, such as a master’s degree.
International Lawyer Quebec lawyers are often in demand in other places. Do you know why? Because lawyers from Quebec are at ease in a variety of legal systems. In Quebec, we have a mixed legal system: in some respects, it is a Civil Law system similar to the systems in France and Germany. In other respects, it draws on the Common Law systems of places like England and Australia. Our mixed system is a legacy of the role of France and Britain in our history.
Non-Traditional Lawyers Some lawyers interested in social issues work for community organizations. They defend the interests of minorities, create social assistance programs, inform citizens about their rights and help them with court cases, write briefs for parliamentary commissions, provide legal information in plain language, etc. Lawyers also put their skills to use in business, the arts and social sectors of society. You can find lawyers in universities, management and politics, and in the fields of entertainment and communications.
Training Get a CEGEP diploma in police technology. (This program is offered in a dozen Quebec CEGEPs.) Afterwards, complete the training program at the École nationale de police du Québec. To be admitted to the police school, candidates must meet several criteria: no criminal record a valid driver’s license meet agility and strength standards be in good physical condition
Eligibility for the RCMP To be an RCMP police officer, you must meet these requirements, among others: a Canadian citizen at least 19 years old high school diploma have a valid driver’s license no criminal record willing to relocate within Canada take a 24-week training program in Regina, Saskatchewan The Royal Canadian Mounted Police used to be called the North-West Mounted Police.
Investigator The work of police officers falls into four main areas: crime prevention emergency intervention investigation coordination of police services These police officers are in charge of criminal investigations. They gather evidence about people suspected of crimes. Since they know their files well, they also work with lawyers presenting court cases against people accused of crimes.
Crime Prevention The main mission of police forces is to maintain order, ensure public safety and make sure laws are respected. To do this, they are involved in these activities: organizing information sessions participating in community programs developing partnerships with community organizations and institutions In the movies or on television, we rarely see examples of the police doing prevention work: a chase scene is more likely to make it onto TV than an officer patrolling a park. Despite this, “keeping the peace” is still an important part of the work of police officers.
Judges have authority over the courtroom and are the chief organizers of the courtroom process. They enforce the rules of evidence and make sure trials run smoothly. During criminal cases, the judge explains legal concepts to the jury, if there is a jury. In civil cases and criminal cases without juries, it is the judge who decides the case. Quebec has over 500 judges who sit on the Court of Appeal, the Superior Court and the Court of Quebec. This does not include all the judges working in municipal courts.
A School for Judges? To become a judge, you must first be a lawyer for at least 10 years. Judges are named by the federal and provincial governments, which each have a different process for naming judges. Candidates must have these qualifications: professional skills required for the job an unblemished record as a lawyer high standards of conduct since, in the eyes of the public, judges are a reflection of the justice system
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This could be the motto of notaries. Like lawyers, notaries act as legal advisors in many different areas of law. But unlike lawyers, notaries don’t present cases in court. Their special skills come in handy at many key moments in people’s lives. Take a look at some examples… There are about 3,800 notaries in Québec. 60% are women.
Documents for Life Events Notaries prepare the legal documents that go along with important life events. Here are some documents notaries prepare: marriage contracts contracts for people who live together without being married wills mandates in case of incapacity (instructions about who should look after people who cannot make decisions for themselves due to illness or other circumstances) an inventory of a person’s property Documents prepared by a notary are official in the eyes of the law. This means it is very difficult to challenge a notarized document in court.
Real Estate Transactions Banks and credit unions lending money to home buyers usually want the house be used as a guarantee that the loan will be paid. This guarantee is called a hypothec. The document containing the hypothec must be created by a notary. This is why notaries almost always play a role in real estate transactions.
Other Services Notaries also act for clients in these areas: adoption marriage immigration end of a civil union (a civil union is a kind of marriage) business matters Notaries can also act as mediators to try to help two people reach an agreement. Some notaries are also involved in financial and tax planning. These notaries know about Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs), Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) and other financial matters.
Training To become a notary, you must first earn a law degree. Then, you must follow a graduate program in notarial law. After graduating, you have to complete a 32- week training program. Finally, you have to be admitted to the professional order of notaries, called the Chambre des notaires du Québec.
Court clerks are like stage directors for the court process: they make sure everything happens smoothly and on time. The tasks of a court clerk are divided into three time periods: before, during and after a court hearing.
Before a Court Hearing At this stage, the court clerk acts as an assistant for the judge. The court clerk might also have the following responsibilities: deciding the date and time of a hearing, after consulting with lawyers for both sides planning any meetings that need to take place before the hearing making sure the court files are complete and meet all legal requirements (A court file is made up of documents. Often there are enough documents to fill several boxes… and the clerk has to make sure they are in order!)
The Day of the Hearing The clerk sits at a desk in front of the judge and does the following : announces the name of the case and the parties calls the lawyers to come forward fills out a form describing what happened at various stages of the hearing takes notes for the judge on the most important information mentioned in court calls the witnesses and asks them to swear to tell “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” notes the nature of documents and objects the lawyers want to present to the judge, gives them an identification number and hands them to the judge
Training There is no specific training to become a court clerk. However, a diploma in paralegal technology is often required, whether the job is with the ministry of justice or with a court in Quebec. Paralegals who want to become court clerks must take training programs offered by their employers. These programs give them the additional skills and knowledge required for the job.
Who is knocking on the door? It might be a bailiff delivering a court document. But the work of bailiffs is varied: they don’t just deliver court documents and seize property! Bailiffs do a variety of tasks for their clients, who are often lawyers: deliver court documents make sure court decisions are respected write official reports of certain events collect money owed
Training In Quebec, there are legal requirements about who can be a bailiff. An organization called the Chambre des huissiers de justice du Québec oversees the profession. Here are the requirements: a CEGEP diploma in paralegal technology a four-week training program of the Chambre a six-month internship passing a professional exam
Ushers make sure that courtrooms are ready for court cases to be heard. When a judge arrives, the usher asks the audience to be quiet and says the famous phrase: “The court is now in session”. Training There is no particular program to become a court usher. However, the ministry of justice and municipal courts in Quebec require at least a high school diploma. To learn the skills for this job, candidates complete a training program offered by their employers.
There are lots of other exciting legal careers… Paralegal Legal Translator Stenographer Correctional Officer Probation Officer …