Detailed explanation of the process to be followed by Canadian Lawyers who are already licensed outside of the province of Québec and wish to obtain a full permit allowing them to practice law within Québec.

Steps to Obtain a Full Permit to Practice in Québec

To obtain an equivalency certificate to practice as a full lawyer in Québec, a lawyer from another Canadian province must complete each of the following:

Next, we will walk through each of these steps in detail. Continue reading to learn about some things you should know before you begin.

Before you Begin

It is important to recognize that completing the equivalency requirements is HARD. The Québec bar, unlike the Ontario bar for example, is notoriously difficult. So much so, that the failure rate of the regular Québec bar exams is around 15-20% (the statistics on the equivalency exam pass rate are not published).

Don't be discouraged! The Civil I and Civil II exams for Canadian lawyers, known as the “equivalency exams”, are different from the exams taken by regular Québec law students. The equivalency exams cover only provincial material and do not test federal legislation. You are also allowed to bring in your own detailed summaries into the exam, which Québec students are not allowed to do.

The equivalency bar exams are only held once per year – Ethics in September and Civil I and Civil II in December – and if you fail you will have to wait an entire year to re-take the failed exam.

In Canada, the Civil law system is exclusive to the province of Québec. You will be expected to have a basic knowledge of the Civil Code in order to pass the bar exams. If you successfully pass the bar exams, you are also required to pass a French exam within two years (unless you previously attended a French school). For those of you who do not speak French, the test requires a practical knowledge of the French language which will take at least 2 to 4 years to master.

Required Forms

To register for the Ethics and Civil I and II equivalency exams, you must submit the following three forms:

  1. Application for admission to the Barreau du Québec;

The following documents must also be submitted with the forms:

Form - Application for admission to the Barreau du Québec

The form can be found here: Application for Admission to the Barreau du Québec. Completing this form is fairly straightforward, just make sure to select “Member of a Canadian Bar who wishes to practice in Québec” at the top and also complete the appendices following the signature block.

Form 1565 – Application for the issuance of a permit

The form can be found here: 1565 - Application for the Issuance of a Permit. Completing this form is a bit confusing because you are required to submit it even though you have not yet passed the Québec bar. That’s ok, complete it, check the boxes and be sure to include the accompanying documents listed in the application.

Form 1566 – Application for registration to the aptitude assessment examinations

The form can be found here: 1566 - Application for Registration to the Aptitude Assessment Examinations. This form allows you to select which exams for which you wish to register. All three exams (Ethics, Civil I and Civil II) are offered only once per year. You can take the exams at different times across multiple years, as long you pass each exam once. However, it is possible to pass all of the exams in one shot if you prepare in advance. The "collection de droit" materials, which are only available in French, are a good source of teaching material for the exam.

After selecting the exams and materials you wish to register for on your form, send a cheque for the total registration amount, together with the other forms and materials to the Barreau du Québec.

HINT: It is not necessary to purchase the collection de droit if you have a friend who is an existing member of the Québec bar. The collection de droit materials are available for FREE online through their CAIJ account. If you are more comfortable studying in English this is also a better option because you can use Google to translate each PDF.

Dates and Passing Grade

The equivalency exams are held once per year on the dates indicated on the application form. The Ethics exam is generally held in September and the Civil I and Civil II exams in December.

To pass each exam, you will require a mark of at least 60%. This score is actually higher than what is required for Québec law students in the normal Québec bar exam, where students can pass with an average score of 60%. For the equivalency exam, you must score a mark of 60% or greater on EACH exam. A score of less than 60% on one exam will require that you re-take that exam. As a result, you don’t really care about the “weighting” of each exam since you must pass each exam individually.

If you fail an exam, you must rewrite the failed exam within three years. If you don’t do this, you will have to resubmit your application and start fresh.

Preparation for the exams will depend on your background and circumstances. If you are learning Civil law for the first time, and you are working full time while studying, you should study for at least 8 to 10 months before the exam. There is a lot of material to master and the exams are not easy.

To divide your time, you should allocate at least 6 to 8 months to studying for the Civil I and II exams (3 to 4 months for each exam) and 1 to 2 months to study for the Ethics exam. If you are not working, these timelines can be shortened because you can study full time, nevertheless, you should still plan to study for several months before taking the exams.

Registration Timing

To register for the exams, you must submit the forms before July 1st for the Ethics exam and October 1st for the Civil I and II exams.

Materials You Can Take Into the Exam

The equivalency exams are open book. This means you can bring into the exam room any summaries or notes you have created with all of the relevant law. It is really important to have a good summary of the material to help you find the relevant answer quickly during the exam. Follow this link to request a copy of the summary I made and used for my exam: Request a Summary.

If you reach out to a few friends who went to law school in Québec, they should also be able to send you summaries from their law school, which is a good place to start.

It is important to remember to actually BRING your law books and summaries to the exam, because nothing will be provided to you in the exam room.

Format of the Exam

The format of each exam is mainly "long answer", which usually requires that you either write a short sentence or paragraph or complete a legal-based math calculation. You will have 4 hours to complete the Ethics exam and 5 hours to write each of the Civil I and II exams. While this may seem like a lot of time, the exams are LONG, and you will likely use all of the time allotted. You don't need to rush while taking them (bathroom breaks are encouraged), but it is important to move through the exam at a reasonable pace and save any questions that you get stuck on for the end.

Common Law vs. Civil Law Exams

Remember that these are Civil law exams. For those with a Common law background, there are a few important differences to keep in mind when you are writing a Civil law exam:

1. Case references are generally not necessary

Civil law is based on the Civil Code and almost all of your answers should reference provisions from the Civil Code or other applicable law and regulations. References to case law are generally NOT necessary or required.

2. Responses should be brief and to the point

Unlike to Common law exam formats, Civil law exam responses should be kept brief and to the point. You may even be docked marks for providing responses which give too much additional or ancillary information.

Each exam question is often looking for one or two specific and relevant provisions from the Civil Code. As a general rule, you should write one sentence for every two marks, but there are many exceptions to this rule.

3. Responses should provide the best legal response (not any correct response)

‍To gain marks on the exam, it is important that the answer be the most relevant law provision related to the question. Responses that are not on the marking sheet will not be granted any marks, even if it can be argued that the response is technically correct.

Exam Content

The required study material for each exam is outlined below. The material for each exam is organized by sections according to the collection de doit, which correspond to specific laws or parts of the Civil Code.

As mentioned above, if you can find a friend who is already a Québec lawyer, you can access the collection de doit online and translate the materials from French to English using Google Translate for purposes of studying.

Ethics Exam

The contents of the Ethics exam covers mainly the following:

  1. Code of Professional Conduct of Lawyers;
  2. Professional Code; and
  3. Volume 1 - Éthique, déontologie et pratique professionnelle (collection de doit).

The proposed study material also includes all of the regulations related to the Barreau du Québec, its formation and election, but you should focus your studying on the three items listed above.

In addition, some of the supplemental laws and regulations, which are discussed in Volume 1 of the collection de doit, that are worth knowing for the exam are as follows:

  1. Regulation respecting accounting and professional practice for lawyers.
  2. Regulation respecting the inspection of Lawyers; and
  3. Act respecting legal aid and the provision of certain other legal services.

You should focus your studying on the Code of Professional Conduct of Lawyers, the Professional Code and Volume 1 of the collection de doit. After you have a firm understanding of the core material, you can review the regulation related to accounting, inspection and legal aid.

Civil I Exam

The Civil I exam covers the following material:

The above list was taken directly from the Barreau du Québec’s website. You should prioritize your studying as follows (in order of importance):

  1. the Civil Code,
  2. the collection de doit,
  3. the code of Civil Procedure, and
  4. calculations and math problems related to inheritance, marriage, separation, family law and support.

The Civil I exam mainly focuses on the Civil law topics as organized by the sections in the collection de doit. In addition, the Consumer Protection Act is discussed in the collection de doit and several practice tests, but is not directly referenced in the above list. In terms of questions, you can expect the majority of questions to focus on the Civil Code, a few questions related to Civil Procedure and at least one question related to each of the following:

  1. calculating the support guidelines,
  2. calculating the separation or divorce amounts, and
  3. calculating the estate inheritance.

You should expect to encounter these calculation questions on the exam and practice a few in advance (using practice tests or other sources).

Justice Québec has a lot of great material on calculating the support amounts found here: Child Support

Justice Québec also has a good section which explains the Québec Civil law marriage regime rules: Marriage and Civil Union

Regarding the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, you should be familiar with the Québec Charter, but you do not need to focus on it too much for purposes of the exams.

Civil II Exam

The Civil II exam covers:

The format of the Civil II exam is similar to the Civil I exam except of course that it tests different material. The Civil II exam aims to test primarily on hypothecs, corporate law, proof in the Civil Code and Civil Procedure.

The exams are two days apart, so please make sure you study both the Civil I and Civil II material at the same time. Honestly, you will want the one day to recover from the first exam, so don’t plan on doing more than a light review during the short period between the exams.

You should prioritize your studying as follows (in order of importance):

  1. the Civil Code,
  2. the collection de doit,
  3. Corporate law (QBCA and CBCA),
  4. the Civil Code.

It is also important to also study the provisions related to the Register of Personal and Moveable Real Rights and you should expect technical questions related to the registration and filings for hypothecs. Similarly, there may also be questions related to the registration and filings for enterprises, so it is worth studying these provisions as well.


If you have a common law background, in order to prepare for the exam, you should:

  1. ‍Read through the relevant parts of the Civil Code (the sections that will be on the exam).
  2. ‍Read the collection de doit materials and make summaries for each exam.
  3. ‍Review the ancillary regulations and material, including how to do specific calculations related to inheritance, separation and support.
  4. Do as many practice exams as you can.

It is very important that you actually read the Civil Code and not only the collection de doit, as most of the test will require that you navigate within the Civil Code itself. The collection de doit provides helpful context for interpreting the Civil Code, which material should be added to your summaries.

It is VERY IMPORTANT that you become adapt at navigating and reading through the Civil Code quickly and efficiently to answer questions. In order to do this properly, a basic knowledge of the Civil Code is required.

Sample study binder

In addition to your summaries, you can bring the actual law to your exam. The best strategy is to bring your civil code and make tabbed binders which contains the rest of the required law. Your should create an index within your law and Civil Code which allows you to quickly find key chapters and provisions (see below). In addition to the Civil Code, this strategy is particularly useful for the law of Civil Procedure which is more complex and worth tabbing each chapter/topic.

Sample notes

A side note on studying: I know, I know, you passed law school in another province and have spent most of your life in school so you know how to study. Given the amount of material on this exam I caution you not to be a “lazy studier”, which just means you just read the material over and over again. It is very important that you do practice tests, try to complete the calculations beforehand and make your own summaries, all of which I call “active studying”. Reviewing the material is important, but active studying will really show you what you are missing and need to fully understand before you walk into the exam room.


Please click the "Summaries" tab at the top of the page to access the summaries I used for my equivalency exam. I am sharing the the summaries I made and used when studying for the equivalency exam so that they may help you in your journey. I note that these will become outdated as the law continues to change and evolve. I also encourage everyone to make their own summary for the exams because I find the best studying is usually in actually making the summary, rather than reviewing someone else’s summary.

Exam questions are very specific and usually looking for a single provision or subparagraph of the Civil Code. Even with a large summary it is unlikely that you will quickly find the exact answer or section in the Civil Code that the question is looking for. Summaries are helpful because they give you the approximate location or section of the Civil Code to look in. After checking your summary, it is best to open the actual Civil Code to read the relevant section and try to find the answer which may be lurking nearby.

I took the equivalency exam in 2020 and my summaries of law can be found in this Excel sheet. The sheet summarizes the collection de doit, the Civil Code, the Code of Civil Procedure and relevant corporate law. The sheet is organized by volume of the collection de doit and each row is numbered to allow you to make your own legend to easily search within the summary (with only a little Excel work).

If you have any questions, comments or you wish to suggest updates, please feel free to send me an email using this contact link.

French Exam

The information for the French exam can be found at the link below (but you can worry about this after you pass the equivalency exams). Unless you have gone to secondary school or university in French, you will be required to pass a French examination within two years after you pass the bar exam. The exam is free and takes about 3 hours. If you fail the exam, you must wait three months before taking it again.

Here are the Exam Details.

The exam is intended to test your ability to communicate basic legal terms and situations in French. It requires an intermediate understanding of the French language, which would equate to a B2 (or higher) on the DELF scale. If you do not speak beginner level French, this may present the greatest challenge to becoming a lawyer in Québec.