Networking for Internationally Trained Lawyers in Canada. How to Find What Works for you

As an internationally trained lawyer in Canada, you are confronted with a lot of ‘what’s’ and ‘if’s’ as you begin your journey to accreditation and practice.  The first thing you are usually required to complete are the NCA exams or a Canadian LLM.  After the NCA exams/LLM come the Bar exams (or equivalent, depending on the province you choose to practice in). Once you complete the accreditation and licensing process of your journey in Canada, you will most likely be confronted with the daunting proposition of finding work. With time being dedicated to exams and your life outside of the lawyering journey, you may not have given much time or energy toward finding work or networking.

Networking has become such an essential factor in building a personal brand and growing your sphere of influence that you really cannot afford not to do it.  But, as an internationally trained lawyer, how can you?  You might feel as though you are on the outside of the legal profession in Canada, looking in on lawyers in Canada who have ‘made it’.  You may even have reached out to a couple of lawyers on LinkedIn or via direct email and had no reply. Having spoken to countless internationally trained legal professionals at varying levels of the accreditation, licensing, and practice spectrums, I have come up with a few tips and hints on how you can grow your own personal network and reach the right target audience.

LinkedIn:  If you haven’t already, develop and build your LinkedIn profile.  Connect with professionals in your area of interest and get posting.  Contributing to other’s posts are also a great way to get recognized by your peers. You can do this from anywhere in the world. Remember that most firms will do a Google search of you and your LinkedIn profile will likely be examined most closely!

Get out there:  Whether you are in India, Pakistan, Nigeria or Canada, already you can allow others to get a sense of you as a person by blogging or vlogging your experiences and insights. Share these blogs and vlogs on your social media and LinkedIn accounts. Become your own mini brand and remember that there is no shame in starting early.  If you are currently studying in your law program, you can get a head start!

Pro Tip:  A senior level recruiter at a national Canadian law firm told me that video blogging and video interactions is the trend of the future. Law firms love it if they can get a sense of your presentation and communication skills via video.

Join Groups and Organizations: When I went to law school to get my LLB degree, there were very few resources available to NCA candidates here in Canada. Now, thanks to some trailblazing individuals in the NCA community, we have some great and very active networking and mentoring organizations to join and benefit from.  Some examples include:  NCA Network (https://ncanetwork.com/ ), ITLNCA NetworkS (https://itln.ca/)  and Global Lawyers of Canada ( https://glcanada.org/ ).  You’ll be able to participate in regular events with like-minded people by joining these great organizations.

You do not need to necessarily follow all these tips and hints to be successful at networking as an internationally trained lawyer in Canada, but the more you are able to do, the more it can help when your NCA exams and Bar exams are completed and it’s time to find that elusive job.