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Lawyer

Lawyers serve as advisors and problem-solvers. They study and interpret the law to advise clients of their rights and legal obligations. They represent client interests in legal transactions and proceedings.

Also Known As

Advocate, Barrister, Counsellor, In-house Counsel, Legal Advisor, Litigator, Negotiator, Prosecutor, Solicitor

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used.

Here is how this occupation has been classified over time.

2006 NOC

  • 4112: Lawyers and Quebec Notaries

2006 NOC-S

  • E012: Lawyers and Quebec Notaries

2011 NOC

  • 4112: Lawyers and Quebec notaries

2016 NOC

  • 4112: Lawyers and Quebec notaries

2021 NOC

  • 41101: Lawyers and Quebec notaries

2023 OaSIS

  • 41101.00: Lawyers and Quebec notaries
Duties
Updated Mar 22, 2023

Lawyers advise a wide range of clients on legal matters, including industry, government, businesses, employers, individuals, and not-for-profit societies. They represent clients before courts, tribunals, and regulatory bodies. They provide legal opinions and risk assessments, draft court documents such as pleadings, and draft other legal documents such as contracts and wills. They may also plead cases and conduct prosecutions in courts of law.

In the past, legal practice in Canada was divided into two types of work. Barristers did court work and solicitors did office work. Now when lawyers complete their training, they are called barristers and solicitors because they are qualified to do both.

Today, most lawyers try to help their clients avoid going to court. Going to court requires lawyers to do many hours of preparation, which they then must charge to their clients. It also poses risk for clients, because no matter how well the lawyer prepares, the judge or jury may not decide in their favour.

To avoid the added cost and risk of court, lawyers encourage clients to use out-of-court dispute settlement methods. These include things like negotiation, mediation, and arbitration.

Barristers act as advocates for clients in both criminal and civil (non-criminal) lawsuits. Criminal law involves alleged breaches of the Criminal Code of Canada, such as arson, theft, and murder. It also involves violations of other statutes such as the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Civil cases involve disputes between private parties and include:

  • Personal injury lawsuits
  • Family and divorce actions
  • Insurance claims and business disputes
  • Employment and labour disputes
  • Intellectual property disputes

Lawyers may litigate (argue) criminal or civil cases on behalf of clients or the government. In Canadian law, the government is called the Crown. Lawyers who argue on behalf of the government in criminal matters are called Crown prosecutors.

Whether lawyers practise criminal or civil law, and no matter who they represent, they:

  • Research legislation (laws) and previous judicial (court) decisions for guidance
  • Gather evidence by interviewing witnesses and reviewing documents
  • Advise clients, initiate legal actions, and draft pleadings (a written presentation to the court)
  • Present a client’s case or defence in court or before a tribunal, board, mediator, or arbitrator
  • Negotiate settlements

Some barristers also act as a mediators, conciliators, or arbitrators. This means they represent clients in various types of proceedings that allow them to settle cases out of court.

Solicitors (office work lawyers) may never go to court. They often specialize in areas such as:

  • Real estate transactions
  • Corporate or commercial law
  • Administrative law
  • Patents
  • Probate and administration of wills and estates
  • Some aspects of family law

In very small or remote communities, lawyers may practise in several areas of either civil or criminal law.

Not all lawyers who work for government are prosecutors. Some advise politicians and bureaucrats (government employees who are not elected buy hired) on the law and public policy. Corporations may also have lawyers who work in-house, advising their employers on business law matters.

In general, solicitors act as advisors in legal transactions. They may:

  • Draft legal documents such as business contracts, lease agreements, and purchase agreements
  • Handle the sale and transfer of property
  • Advise on the tax implications of a client’s proposed action
  • Incorporate companies and draft shareholder agreements
  • Negotiate contracts of employment and collective agreements
  • Act as trademark or patent agents

Lawyers are also notaries public and commissioners for oaths under Alberta’s Notaries and Commissioners Act[pdf]. This includes articling students (they have finished law school and are completing a 12-month term of practice). This year of supervised experience is the final step to becoming licensed to practice law.

Subject to the Notaries Public and Commissioners for Oaths Regulations, a notary public may:

  • Administer oaths. A person under oath promises to tell the truth. They can be charged with perjury and sentenced to pay a fine or spend time in jail for lying under oath.
  • Take affidavits (a written statement taken under oath), affirmations, or declarations.
  • Attest the oaths, affidavits, affirmations, or declarations (confirm they’re genuine).
  • Certify a copy of a document is genuine by applying a notary’s stamp or seal to it.
  • Witness certain types of legal documents (attest that those signing have proven their identity with government-issued identification such as a driver’s license or passport).

However, only a licensed lawyer or judge can witness, certify, and attest deeds, contracts, and commercial instruments.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 22, 2023
  • Strength Required Strength requirements vary

Legal work can be demanding and stressful. Lawyers often work long hours to meet deadlines. For example, they may need to draft briefs (write up legal arguments to present to a judge). Or they may need to research cases (gather evidence and review previous judgments on similar cases). They must also stay on top of new developments in both the law and the legal profession.

Some lawyers work as partners or associates in law offices and employ staff to help with the workload. Many lawyers work within government or for corporations.

Other working conditions depend on factors such as the size and type of the employer. For example:

  • Defence lawyers may spend time conferring with clients who are being detained in remand centres or prisons.
  • Corporate or taxation lawyers work closely with government employees, politicians, and other professionals such as accountants, economists, and business executives.
  • Family lawyers meet with families to assist with adoption, divorce, or child custody proceedings.
  • Labour lawyers may visit worksites to investigate working conditions or labour disputes.
  • Lawyers in the military work overseas, as do lawyer-diplomats working for government.
  • Immigration lawyers work with people from other countries who may have to argue why they should be allowed to stay in Canada.
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Lawyers and Quebec Notaries

2006 NOC: 4112

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
METHODICAL

Interest in co-ordinating information to perform administrative and management functions related to the practice of law

INNOVATIVE

Interest in negotiating settlements of civil disputes (lawyers only), in applying principles of civil law as it pertains to notarization of legal documents and in researching legal precedents and gathering evidence

DIRECTIVE

Interest in mentoring in order to advise clients of their legal rights and all matters related to law; may act as an executor, trustee or guardian in estate and family law matters; may act as mediator, conciliator or arbitrator

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 22, 2023

Lawyers need:

  • Tact and patience in dealing with clients
  • Communication and organizational skills
  • Analytical and logical thinking
  • Strong writing skills
  • Quick thinking
  • Physical and emotional stamina and resilience to cope with periods of stress (such as deadlines or difficult clients)
  • Tolerance for confrontation and conflict
  • Integrity and a strong code of ethics

They should enjoy:

  • Researching and coordinating information
  • Negotiating solutions
  • Advising clients
  • Public speaking and making presentations

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Lawyers and Quebec notaries

2016 NOC: 4112

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 17 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Jul 25, 2022 and Apr 14, 2024.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Construction Specialization: Team player
Certificates, Licences, Memberships, and Courses : Membership in a provincial or territorial law society
Construction Specialization: Client focus
Construction Specialization: Organized
Construction Specialization: Excellent oral communication
Construction Specialization: Accurate
Construction Specialization: Dependability
Construction Specialization: Values and ethics
Computer and Technology Knowledge: MS Outlook
Computer and Technology Knowledge: MS Word
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 22, 2023
  • Minimum Education 6 years post-secondary

To practice law in Alberta, lawyers must complete 3 stages of training. This requires a total of 5 to 7 years of post-secondary study plus 1 year of articling (a type of practicum or apprenticeship).

The first stage is 2 to 4 years in an undergraduate (bachelor’s) degree program. Undergraduate degree programs and university transfer programs are offered by post-secondary schools throughout Alberta. Students can be admitted to a law degree without completing their first degree if they have an exceptional academic record. Most students, however, go to law school after finishing their first degree. These days, many law students also have a master’s degree.

Students who want to enter law school must write the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). This aptitude test is given 4 times a year at several Canadian campuses.

The second stage is a 3-year Bachelor of Laws (LLB) or Juris Doctor (JD) degree from a law school at a Canadian university or equivalent. Admission to law school is based on the applicant’s academic record, LSAT score, and other markers of potential success. For example, assessors may consider time- management skills by looking at past work experience or extracurricular activities.

Internationally trained lawyers or law graduates who would like to practice in Alberta must have their degrees evaluated by the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA). Once the NCA has assessed a student’s degree, they may need to complete one or more exams or specific law school courses within a certain time frame.

The third stage is called articling. After students obtain a law degree or receive a Certificate of Qualification from the NCA, they must article (work) for 8 to 12 months as a student-at-law. This is a form of apprenticeship. The student must have an articling position before applying for student-at-law status with the Law Society. Once they start articling, their Principal Lawyer (qualified supervisor) provides them with practical training in both barristers and solicitors. Articling students receive a salary based on area of specialization. This can vary depending on location and employer.

Law graduates must find their own articling position. Securing a position depends on several factors. These include:

  • The level of economic activity in the province
  • The graduate’s transferable assets and skills
  • The graduate’s volunteer and extracurricular experience
  • The graduate’s grades

Students-at-law must also complete the Practice Readiness Program (PREP) during their articling term. This is a 9-month course given by the Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education (CPLED). It consists of 4 phases during which the student develops the competencies required to be admitted to the bar (licensed to practise) as an entry-level lawyer. PREP is offered twice a year, with course start dates in June and December.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 22, 2023
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

Certain professional titles or duties within this occupation are protected by provincial legislation. Requirements vary if you use these titles or perform these duties.

The related legislation is shown below. If there are multiple related legislations, select a certification heading to learn about each one.

Lawyer

Lawyers serve as advisors and problem-solvers. They study and interpret the law to advise clients of their rights and legal obligations. They represent client interests in legal transactions and proceedings.

Legislation

Under Alberta’s Legal Profession Act [pdf], you must be a registered member of the Law Society of Alberta (LSA) to practice law in Alberta or call yourself a Lawyer.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Lawyer.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 22, 2023

Aside from practising law, law graduates may pursue careers in government, business, industry, not-for-profits, and post-secondary institutions. Lawyers may also be self-employed.

In private practice, lawyers may move into senior partnership with their firms. A few are appointed judges or to administrative tribunals. Government legal advisors have opportunities as department heads, trade negotiators, or diplomats. Corporate lawyers may become company executives.

Lawyers also may combine their law training with other professional disciplines. For example, they may become arbitrators or mediators, research medical or business policy, or enter politics.

Lawyers also work in the legal departments of large corporations as in-house counsel. In this capacity, they perform legal work directly for the business or organization employing them.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 4112: Lawyers and Quebec notaries occupational group, 76.6% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 4112: Lawyers and Quebec notaries occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 231 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2019-2023 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 22, 2023

Incomes vary widely according to factors such as:

  • The type of law they practice. Corporate lawyers may earn more than environmental lawyers.
  • The demand for their type of law. For example, there is always a need for real estate lawyers.
  • The economic status of their clients. Wealthy clients can and will pay more for any type of legal service than low-income clients.
  • Who they work for. Incomes will vary widely for lawyers who work on a large, in-house team, as the sole in-house counsel for a smaller organization, or in their own private practice.
  • Their location. Lawyers in urban centres often earn more than those in rural communities.
  • Their ability to attract and maintain clients. This could depend on factors including their courtroom skills, their reputation for negotiating good settlements out of court, their ability to empathize with clients, or their abilities with marketing and self-promotion.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Lawyers and Quebec notaries

2016 NOC: 4112
Average Wage
$76.94
Per Hour
Average Salary
$145,690.00
Per Year
Average Hours
37.1
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 4112 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $29.45 $87.42 $48.78 $43.96
Overall $35.71 $111.50 $76.94 $78.02
Top $46.70 $164.84 $105.20 $96.14

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

ALL INDUSTRIES
Oil & Gas Extraction
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services
Health Care & Social Assistance
Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
42%
42%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
12%
12%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
4%
4%
Vacancy Rate
N/A
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Social Sciences, Law and Religious Studies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 22, 2023

Law Society of Alberta website: www.lawsociety.ab.ca

Legal Education Society of Alberta website: www.lesaonline.org

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 22, 2023. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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