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Occupational Profile

Lawyer

Lawyers study and interpret points of law to advise clients of their rights and legal obligations, and represent client interests in legal transactions and proceedings.

  • Avg. Salary $133,603.00
  • Avg. Wage $68.34
  • Minimum Education 6 years post-secondary
  • Outlook Down
  • Employed 9,200
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Advocate, Barrister, Litigator, Negotiator, Prosecutor, Solicitor

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

59%
59%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Regulated
  • Strength Required Strength requirements vary
NOC & Interest Codes
The Lawyer is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Lawyers and Quebec Notaries
NOC code: 4112
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

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 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 More

Duties
Updated Mar 07, 2017

Lawyers advise clients on legal matters, represent clients before courts and administration boards and draw up legal documents such as contracts and wills. They also plead cases, represent clients before tribunals and conduct prosecutions in courts of law.

Legal practice may be roughly divided into two types: court work and office work. In Canada, when lawyers have completed their training, they are called barristers and solicitors because they are eligible to do both.

Barristers (court work practitioners) act as advocates for their clients in both criminal and civil law suits. Criminal law involves breaches of the Criminal Code of Canada (for example, arson, theft, murder) or violations of other statutes (for example, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, Youth Criminal Justice Act). Civil cases involve non-criminal actions and often are settled out of court. For example, civil cases include:

  • personal injury law suits
  • family and divorce actions
  • contract law suits
  • employment and labour disputes
  • intellectual property disputes.

In general, barristers acting on behalf of clients:

  • research legislation, legal precedents and case law
  • gather evidence (interview witnesses, review documents)
  • advise clients, initiate legal actions and draft pleadings
  • present a client's case or defence in court or before a tribunal, board, mediator or arbitrator
  • negotiate settlements
  • may act as a mediator, conciliator or arbitrator.

Litigators are barristers engaged in civil work.

Prosecutors are barristers for the Crown who:

  • research legislation, legal precedents and case law
  • assemble and analyze evidence gathered by police
  • advise police regarding charges and keep crime victims informed about legal proceedings
  • prosecute criminal cases in court.

Solicitors (office work lawyers) deal with those areas which generally do not require courtroom appearances such as real estate transactions, corporate law, commercial law, administrative law, patents, probate and administration of estates, international law and some aspects of family law.

In general, solicitors:

  • act as advisors in legal transactions
  • draft legal documents such as wills and business contracts
  • handle the transfer of property
  • administer estates
  • incorporate companies
  • negotiate contracts
  • act as executors, trustees or guardians in estate and family law matters
  • act as trademark or patent agents.

Lawyers and articling students (students-at-law who are registered under the Legal Professions Act and who are completing the required 12-month articling term to gain experience within Alberta Courts system) are notaries public and commissioners for oaths under the Notaries and Commissioners Act (Alberta).

Subject to the Notaries Public Regulations, a notary public may:

  • administer oaths and take affidavits, affirmations or declarations and attest the oaths, affidavits, affirmations or declarations
  • certify and attest a true copy of a document
  • witness or certify and attest the execution of a document
  • witness or certify and attest deeds, contracts and commercial instruments, if they are a lawyer or judge.

Subject to Commissioners for Oaths Regulation, lawyers and articling students also are commissioners for oaths and may administer oaths and take and receive affidavits, declarations and affirmations in Alberta.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 07, 2017

Legal work can be very demanding and stressful. Lawyers may spend many hours outside the normal working day drafting briefs, researching cases and generally keeping informed about new developments in the legal profession. They usually work as partners or associates in law offices and employ one or more staff members to assist them with their work.

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

  • criminal lawyers may, if required, spend time conferring with clients who are being detained in remand centres or prisons
  • practitioners in international, corporation or taxation law work closely with government officials and professionals such as accountants, economists and business executives
  • family law lawyers meet with families in the course of adoption or child custody proceedings
  • labour lawyers sometimes visit work sites to investigate working conditions or labour disputes.
  • Strength Required Strength requirements vary
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 07, 2017

Lawyers need the following characteristics:

  • the physical and emotional stamina required to cope with periods of stress
  • a sense of public responsibility and a strong code of ethics
  • the ability to communicate persuasively and promote their services
  • the ability to think logically and analytically and respond quickly
  • organizational skills and the ability to balance career demands and outside interests
  • a high tolerance for confrontation and conflict
  • tact and patience in dealing with clients
  • an excellent memory.

They should enjoy co-ordinating information, negotiating settlements and advising clients.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 07, 2017

To practice law in Alberta, lawyers must have completed 3 stages of post-secondary education and training requiring a total of 6 to 8 years of study.

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 seeking admission to law school must write the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), an aptitude test administered four times a year at a number of Canadian campuses.

The second stage is a 3-year Juris Doctor (JD) degree from an accredited law school. Admission to law school is based on the Faculty of Law's assessment of the applicant's academic record, LSAT score and general qualifications. The minimum academic requirement is completion of at least 2 years of a program leading to a bachelor's degree or equivalent, but admission after 2 or 3 years of undergraduate study is very unusual. A bachelor's degree generally is required to gain admission.

The third stage of education and training for lawyers is called articling. After prospective lawyers graduate from a JD or combined degree program, they must work for 1 full year as a student-at-law (Law Society of Alberta requirement). This is a form of apprenticeship in which the student enters into an agreement (articles of clerkship) with a practitioner of the Alberta Bar, to provide the graduate with practical training in both barrister's and solicitor's work. Most articling students are paid a modest salary.

It is the responsibility of the law graduate to obtain an articling position. A graduate's ability to secure an articling position depends on a number of factors, including the level of economic activity in the province, transferable assets and skills from their work, volunteer and extracurricular experience and, to some degree, the graduate's grades.

Articling students must attend and successfully complete the CPLED program (Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education), offered several times a year and covering many practical aspects of the law. This bar admission program includes classroom sessions and online learning.

The University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon offers a special law program for Aboriginal people. For more information, contact the Legal Studies for Native People program, located at the Native Law Centre, University of Saskatchewan.


Related Education

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

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 07, 2017

Lawyer

Lawyers study and interpret points of law to advise clients of their rights and legal obligations, and represent client interests in legal transactions and proceedings.

Legislation

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

Education

Registration requires: (1) a Canadian common law degree, (2) one year of articling as a student-at-law, and (3) successful completion of the Law Society of Alberta Bar Admission Course (CPLED). For official, detailed information about registration requirements, visit the LSA website or contact the Law Society of Alberta.

Working in Alberta

Lawyers who are registered by and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for registration in Alberta if registered lawyers in the two jurisdictions have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see What if I am already certified in another province or territory? and the Alberta regulatory authority (below).

To find more information on the certification process for internationally educated lawyers, see Lawyer Enrollment Process on the AlbertaCanada.com website.

Contact Details

Law Society of Alberta
Suite 500, 919 - 11th Avenue S.W.
Calgary, Alberta
Canada  T2R 1P3
Phone number: 403-229-4700
Toll-free phone number: 1-800-661-9003
Fax number: 403-228-1728
Website: www.lawsociety.ab.ca

Law Society of Alberta
Suite 800, Bell Tower, 10104 - 103 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada  T5J 0H8
Phone number: 780-429-3343
Toll-free phone number: 1-800-272-8839
Fax number: 780-424-1620
Website: www.lawsociety.ab.ca

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 07, 2017

Below-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Lawyers may be self-employed or employed by a law firm, businesses or federal, provincial or municipal governments. In the past, most lawyers started their careers in private practice, either as members of firms or on their own. Today, a growing number of graduates are pursuing alternate careers working for government, business, industry, nonprofit groups or post-secondary schools.

Lawyers in private practice sometimes become senior partners in their firms. A few are appointed to the Bench or to administrative tribunals. Government legal advisors may advance to positions as department heads or diplomats, and corporate lawyers may become company executives. Lawyers also may combine their training in law with other professional training (for example, in arbitration, mediation, medicine, business, library studies or political science).

Lawyers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 4112: Lawyers and Quebec notaries. In Alberta, 88% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Professional, Scientific and Technical Services industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 9,200 Albertans are employed in the Lawyer and Quebec notaries occupational group. This group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.5% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 138 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As lawyers form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for lawyers.  

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 07, 2017

Incomes in private practice vary tremendously depending on the lawyer's or the firm's ability to attract and maintain clients.

Lawyers and Quebec notaries
NOC code: 4112

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $17.33 $92.58 $49.11 $45.40
Overall $39.45 $111.22 $68.34 $64.31
Top $45.33 $173.08 $95.80 $76.92

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.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.


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

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

59%
59%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

13%
13%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

2%
2%

2015 Vacancy Rate

N/A
Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Health, Recreation and Human Services
    • Legal Studies
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Social Sciences, Law and Religious Studies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 07, 2017

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

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

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 10, 2016. 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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