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Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Arizona State Launches Program to Allow Grads to Sit for Both U.S. and Canadian Bar Exams

Arizona State logoPress Release:  ASU Law School Creates North American Law Degree to Prepare Graduates to Practice in U.S. and Canada:

The J.D. at the College of Law will now prepare students from the U.S. and Canada to seek bar admission in both countries, expanding the job market for new attorneys and creating new opportunities for international law practice. The North American Law Degree will allow students to graduate, within three years, with a J.D. designed to allow them to immediately seek licensure in Canada without further coursework, in addition to qualifying them for bar admission in the U.S., making the College of Law’s J.D. program unique among U.S. law schools. Dean Douglas Sylvester, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada and a graduate of both Canadian and U.S. schools of higher education, believes the degree will be an invaluable opportunity for future attorneys. ...

National Law Journal, Arizona State Hopes U.S.-Canada Program Will Boost Grads' Prospects:

Arizona recently adopted a rule allowing certain students to sit for the state bar exam during the February of their 3L year, which would allow them to sit for the bar in Canada right after graduation, Sylvester said. "I think there's a huge demand for attorneys with the ability to practice in the U.S. and Canada," he said. "With every cross-border transaction, companies need to bring in law firms in both countries. We've been meeting with firms in Canada that are interested in attorneys who are dual-licensed."

Administrators expect the program to draw some U.S. students but mostly Canadians — despite the fact that ASU's $26,267 annual tuition exceeds that at most Canadian law schools. Sylvester noted that the law school admissions process is far more competitive in Canada. Second, it is easier for a U.S. attorney to qualify for the bar in Canada than for a Canadian in most U.S. states.

Finally, Canadians might be attracted by Arizona's warm weather; Phoenix already boasts a fairly robust population of Canadian attorneys, said Sylvester, himself a Canadian national who holds joint U.S. citizenship. The law school has been working with the Canada Arizona Business Council, which promotes cross-border trade. ...

Hurdles remain for U.S. lawyers who want to be licensed in Canada. Lawyers there must complete a 10-month articling period under the supervision of an experienced attorney, and so would ASU graduates. However, provinces including Ontario are discussing alternatives to articling, including legal clinics and practical-skills training.

ASU plans to bring in Canadian attorneys to teach the 3L Canadian law courses, Sylvester said. The school is already talking with Canadian law firms about creating summer associate positions and articling spots for its graduates.

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It does seem odd for ASU to head down this road. If anything, I'd expect law schools in Minnesota, Michigan, New York, and Washington to go down this route. It'll be interesting to see if this takes off and if anyone imitates.

Posted by: HTA | Dec 27, 2012 10:44:09 AM