Mentoring opportunities at Legal Aid Ontario

Criteria: Mentor, mentee and case

Criteria for mentors (senior lawyers acting as second chair or seeking a junior lawyer to act as second chair)

  • In good standing with the LSUC
  • Member in good standing with the courts or administrative panels in front of whom they appear
  • No history of discipline or substantiated complaints by LSUC or LAO
  • Experience and expertise in the particular area of law at issue
  • A history of mentoring junior counsel or leading continuing legal education opportunities in their legal area of expertise
  • Active panel member with a consistent case load, a well-developed legal aid practice, good administrative history with LAO, and a reputation for high quality services
  • While membership in specialized panels such as those for Extremely Serious Matters, Complex Case Rates and Gladue matters are relevant, they may not be the determining factor in an additional second chair authorization
  • Women and members of other minority groups may receive special consideration

Criteria for mentees (junior lawyers seeking a mentor)

  • In good standing with the LSUC
  • Member in good standing with the courts or administrative panels in front of whom they appear
  • Potential for addressing problems underlying a history of disciplinary problems or substantiated complaints by LSUC or LAO
  • Commitment to a particular area of law, and to a legal aid practice in general
  • Lack of mentoring opportunities in their employment, such as working for a firm that does not have more experienced counsel  
  • Conditionally admitted to a legal aid panel and in the process of seeking permanent admission  
  • Women and members of other minority groups may receive particular consideration

Case criteria for second chair opportunities

Cases suitable for the Second Chair program should include features that would allow a mentee to learn and develop, through “hands-on experience,” the skills necessary to act as counsel on such cases in the future. Such features include:

  • legal issues currently underserviced by legal aid (such as child protection law)
  • issues relevant to particular vulnerable client groups (such as Aboriginal clients and clients with mental health issues)
  • the number and kind of required pre-trial motions
  • novel legal questions
  • complicated factual scenario(s)
  • the need to handle expert evidence
  • heightened need for strategic judgment
  • opportunities for meaningful cross-examination
  • Involvement of a high-needs client with mental health issues
  • high profile elements
  • large amount of material for review to prepare for a proceeding
  • an appeal or judicial review of a judgment

The above list does not preclude, in appropriate circumstances, authorizations for short trials through the program, or hearings not overly complex or challenging that would provide the mentee with a valuable learning experience.


More information

Lawyers interested in the program can contact:

  • secondchair@lao.on.ca
  • Marcus Pratt, Deputy Director, Policy and Strategic Research at PrattM@lao.on.ca
  • the district director general
  • the executive lead for LAOs Refugee Services Transformation for refugee/immigration opportunities
  • a case manager for Big Case Management support.

For more information on the case-by-case application process see second chair program Q&A page. Q&As for the pre-approved program will be added as the program develops.