Responses to recent media enquiries
LAO corrects assumptions about the future delivery of clinic law services
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
The Clinic Law Services Strategic Direction paper lacked evidence for many of its assertions and does not meet the standard of evidence-based policy and planning.
LAO’s most recent paper isn’t a plan – it’s a set of clear objectives and directives upon which the modernization of clinic law will be based. How these objectives will be achieved will be the topics of significant consultations with stakeholders in the coming months and years.
The Clinic Law Services Strategic Direction paper clearly states that it’s the result of considerable research and consultations on clinic law needs and issues over the last several years – which were all documented in three previously released papers dating back to 2008, 2010 and 2012.
The paper released in May 2012 references and draws upon the research of a number of sources including Michael Trebilcock’s report, the Law Foundation’s “Connecting” report, the Auditor General’s annual report, Stats Can and Census Reports.
LAO is not explicit about its interpretation of a “full continuum of legal services” by community legal clinics.
The term “full continuum of legal services” is clearly explained in the Clinic Law Services strategic direction paper:
“The clinic law needs of low-income Ontarians range across a broad spectrum of areas of law and legal proceedings. These needs can be met through a broad continuum of legal services, including representation, legal advice and assistance self-help materials, public legal information and/or systemic advocacy.” (p.7)
The paper also clearly states that clients could be better served with more points of client access available throughout the province. They potentially include:
- more potential satellite offices
- using telephone and Internet services more innovatively
- expanding the use of legal workers or intermediaries
LAO’s Clinic Law Services Strategic Direction does not consider local needs.
LAO is, in fact, setting up regional and local planning discussions with community agencies, clinics and other stakeholders to determine what works best in specific areas.
The objectives enunciated in the Clinic Law Strategic Direction paper are rooted in the provincial government’s laws and regulations pertaining to ensuring client service and the good stewardship of public funds. LAO believes that these principles need to be the basis of the future development of clinic law and wants to make them clear. How they will be implemented will be the subject of much consultation and discussion with clinics and others in the months and years ahead.
LAO has no intention of using a cookie cutter approach because it is clear that different regions have different needs.
LAO did not consult with other clinic law stakeholders in developing the Clinic Law Strategic Direction paper.
LAO’s perspective is different from that of the ACLCO, as it should be.
LAO’s perspective is shaped by the organization’s legislated responsibility for administering the entire legal aid system in Ontario which includes clinics and its obligations of accountability and transparency for the use of public funds.
For a number of years, LAO has been undergoing a significant modernization process to expand access to services for clients, reduce administration, and increase value for taxpayers. Through this process the organization has developed its own thinking and ideas about the delivery of services and maximizing resources for the benefit of clients.
The ACLCO’s planning documents cover many of the same themes and objectives in LAO’s paper. For example LAO and the ACLCO both identify the need for clusters and mergers, making better use of technology, coordinating law reform efforts, community governance, and offering clients a full range of services – from information to individual representation and test cases.
LAO’s strategic direction paper outlines the key objectives and principles that will underpin how the future of clinic law services will be further developed to ensure the best possible client service in the most cost-effective ways.
The paper outlines four overriding objectives:
- expand access to justice and provide fair and equal access to clinic law services across the province
- provide a continuum of client-focussed, high-quality, cost-effective services, and promote innovation
- meet the highest standards of public administration in Ontario, including the highest standards of transparency and accountability
- provide more and better services in a more cost-effective way
For questions or further information, please contact: