Graduating from an Australian law school and the NCA assessment process

31 May 2023

What is the NCA assessment process after you’ve graduated from an Australian law school?

stack of law books
Learn more about studying at an Australian law school

If you’re considering studying law, you know it can be extremely competitive to get into a Canadian law school—and there are very few places available. Not being offered a coveted place often forces some students to rethink their career goals. For others, it just makes them more determined: they begin to look at other options, like studying law abroad.

Graduate qualifications from an Australian law school are recognized in Canada and internationally.

Understanding the Process of Returning to Canada to Practice as a Lawyer
The basic process when returning to Canada and meeting the requirements to practice as a lawyer is as follows:

1. NCA assessment
2. Complete assigned requirements
3. Obtain Certificate of Qualification
4. Apply to bar admissions
5. Complete provincial licensing process

NCA Assessment, Examinations, and Certificate of Qualification
The National Committee on Accreditation (NCA) assesses the legal education and professional experience of individuals who obtained their credentials outside of Canada or in a Canadian civil law program.

Graduates of Australian law schools must first apply to have their credentials assessed by the NCA. All applications are assessed by the NCA on a case-by-case basis because everyone’s application is unique and based on their own experiences and academic history.

The Assessment Criteria are listed at section 3.2 of the NCA Assessment Policy. NCA assessments will consider pre-law education, legal education, skills competencies, language proficiency in English or French, and consideration of past misconduct finding. An applicant’s legal education needs to include substantive legal knowledge of the core common law subjects in which you will demonstrate competence, including five Canadian subjects, which are mandatory for all applicants.

Most Australian law school graduates who apply through the NCA would be asked to complete challenge exams in the following areas:

  • Canadian Administrative Law
  • Canadian Constitutional Law
  • Canadian Criminal Law
  • Canadian Professional Responsibility
  • Foundations of Canadian Law

You will also need to complete a course in legal research and writing offered either by an approved Canadian common law program or though the NCA legal research and writing module with the Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education (CPLED).

Complete Your Assigned NCA Requirements
Once the NCA has finished your assessment, you will usually follow one of three paths for meeting your assignments:

  • Write and pass NCA exams; or
  • Complete assigned subjects at a Canadian law school; or
  • Complete a combination of 1 and 2—that is, you may meet some requirements by writing NCA exams and the rest by completing related courses at a Canadian law school.

Exams are graded on a pass/fail basis (50% is considered a pass). Exams are computer based on a secure exam platform, proctored online, fact-based, open-book, and three hours long. Results are released approximately 10–12 weeks from the date of the last scheduled exam of each session. See the current NCA exam schedule.

The number of times you can take an NCA exam is 3 plus 1. To write an NCA exam a fourth time, an applicant is required to provide confirmation that they understand that they will be required to take the course at law school if unsuccessful on the fourth attempt.

The NCA exams are self-study, so you must obtain the material on your own. Many law graduates get their texts from law schools/libraries, and from searching on Google. Be sure to consult the  NCA exam syllabus before purchasing the materials as the referenced textbooks can change, and ensure you purchase the correct edition of all texts.

NCA Certificate of Qualification
Once you’ve successfully completed the assigned requirements, the NCA will issue a Certificate of Qualification. The certificate proves that you have finished the work that the NCA required. It also shows that your knowledge of Canadian law is similar to the knowledge of someone who got their law degree through an approved Canadian law school program.

Visit the NCA website for full details about the NCA process.

Request Certificate of Qualification
Once you have your Certificate of Qualification from the NCA, you can apply to bar admission programs in Canadian common law jurisdictions, which include all the provinces and territories except for Quebec. Questions about the bar admission process should be directed to your provincial law society.

Apply to Bar Admissions
You may apply to bar admission programs in Canadian common law jurisdictions, which include all the provinces and territories except for Quebec. Questions about the bar admissions process should be directed to your provincial law society.

For full details, be sure to visit the NCA website.

Apply to Provincial/Territorial Licensing Process
The rules and regulations for admission to practice law in Canada, which often include an articling process, are set by the provincial and territorial law societies. You can get information about articling programs directly from each law society. Try out the self-assessment.

Which law programs do OzTREKK Australian law schools offer?

The following Australian law schools offer either a graduate-entry LLB or JD and most offer an undergraduate-entry LLB:


Would you like more information about law degrees offered in Australia? Please contact OzTREKK’s Australian Law Schools Admissions Officer at