Canada lawyerO Canada. Are you the next big legal market for American lawyers?

I had to wonder as I read this article regarding the upswing in mergers among U.S. law firms and law firms abroad. As Ashley Post writes:

“Experts are seeing a trend in which more law firms are pursuing cross-border mergers to create megafirms comprising thousands of lawyers. The Wall Street Journal reports that in the past couple months, there have been three deals that will create huge firms with up to 3,800 lawyers.”

She goes on to explain that 2012’s biggest legal merger in the world—in the world!—was one that was just announced in November and will result in a 3,800-lawyer firm. Although that merger involved a Houston-based firm and a U.K. firm, the lure of a welcoming Canadian market may be a strong one for American lawyers.

ASU Law School logoThat’s why the December announcement from ASU Law School caught my attention: The school is creating a “North American Law Degree” to prepare graduates to practice in both the United States and Canada. The school continues:

“The J.D. at the Sandra Day O’Connor 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.”

ASU Law School Dean Douglas Sylvester

Dean Douglas Sylvester

“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.”

The initiative was spearheaded by Dean Doug Sylvester, who is Candian-American.

You can read the whole announcement here.

And here is some background on a few of the trends affecting law firms in Canada (as of 2011).