Legal Aid - Lawyer Information for Duty Counsel Panels
Duty Counsel Panels
a) Criminal and Family per diem Duty Counsel panels
- The duty counsel program is managed by the Supervisory Duty Counsel (SDC) and the Area Director in each county, who decide whether additional per diem duty counsel are needed for the proper provision of duty counsel services.
- It is a good idea to talk to the SDC or the Area Director about the need for additional per diem duty counsel. In Toronto, for example, there are an adequate number of per diem family and criminal duty counsel but a list of lawyers who have expressed interest in joining the panel is being maintained. We periodically train or "bring on" new per diem lawyers, as the need arises. Preference is usually given to lawyers with some previous related practice experience.
- Duty counsel panel applications must be sent to the Area Director in each location in which you want to provide duty counsel services.
- It is generally preferred that lawyers providing per diem duty counsel services are also actively practising in that location. For example, lawyers providing duty counsel services in Northumberland should also be practising in Northumberland. In some counties where there is a shortage of per diem duty counsel, it may be possible to get on the per diem duty counsel panel even though your practice is in a different location.
b) Duty Counsel - Advice Lawyers
- Most counties have Advice Lawyer duty counsel panels. Each area office will have a list of the summary advice locations, often called "Summary Advice Clinics" in their area. Private bar lawyers go to various locations in the community for the purpose of providing general advice for about 20 minutes on a number of legal issues to members of the public, either on a "drop in" basis or by appointment. Contact the Area Director in your county about these services. To be placed on to this panel, you need to submit the Duty Counsel General Panel Application.
- In Toronto there are over 20 summary advice locations. The scheduling for the summary advice clinics is undertaken by the community agency hosting the clinic. The Toronto area offices do not provide this function. If you want to provide these services, it is necessary to contact the agency hosting the clinic. There is an exception to this general rule: three of the Toronto area offices host a summary advice clinic for family law clients, for which they do the scheduling. In order to be considered for this work, it is also necessary to be on the family certificate panel.
- There are also specialized duty counsel summary advice panels that have been created in some counties due to special needs. For example, the counties with federal or provincial penitentiaries may have a specialized Advice lawyer-Correctional Institution panel for providing summary advice to inmates in the correctional institutions. Similarly in counties with a psychiatric institution, there may be a specialized Advice lawyer-Mental Health panel for providing summary advice to the residents. In Ottawa there is a specialized Advice Lawyer-Refugee and Immigration panel.
- It is important to check with the area office in the county in which you work about whether these special panels have been created and whether there are any training or other requirements for being accepted on to the panel.
What happens next
- For duty counsel panels, after the SDC has agreed to train you, there is a 3-month probationary period during which your performance as a per diem duty counsel will be observed. At the end of the 3-month period, a decision will be made about admission to the duty counsel panel.
As of April 21, 2008, new Duty Counsel must submit accounts through Legal Aid Online. If high speed internet access is unavailable in your area, with the approval of your AD or SDC, new DC may submit accounts on paper