LAO Newsroom

Responses to recent media enquiries

LAO Newsroom

LAO top billers

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Legal Aid Ontario recently responded to an enquiry about the top 10 lawyers in terms of billing LAO.

Response


Thank you very much for your request. I always welcome an opportunity to tell the media about the great work going on at Legal Aid Ontario.

Legal Aid Ontario recognizes transparency and openness are fundamental principles for public funded agencies who demonstrate accountability for the use of public funds. With this principle in mind, LAO has implemented policies over the past several years to increase transparency including:

  • Proactive Disclosure: Beginning in April 2008, all Legal Aid Ontario Senior managers expenses were made available for viewing by the public on the LAO website. (LAO implemented this policy two years prior to its wider implementation across the Ontario Public Service in 2010.)
  • Consultant and Contracting Disclosure: LAO has a new initiative underway to post all consulting and contractors fees paid to external suppliers. Beginning this spring, all external fees and contracts will be available on the LAO website.
  • LAO Board Minutes: A public version of the LAO Board of Directors Meeting Minutes is posted to the website.

Your request for the names and monetary amounts paid to the ten highest billers based on the amount of hours billed to Legal Aid Ontario is an interesting and unique request for us. As far as we can tell, LAO has not had this kind of request before. While working on responding to your request, we learned of a Court of Appeal for British Columbia decision that speaks directly to this type of media request. (I have attached a copy of the decision.)

LAO needs to assess this decision and understand it better before we can address your request. Moving forward, we will also consult with the Privacy Commissioner, the Law Society of Upper Canada, and other justice sector partners about which lawyer information is appropriate for public disclosure.

As we engage in this process to determine what we can disclose, I will follow-up with you in six weeks to let you know our progress. In the meantime, I can share with you the ten most hours billed by lawyers, without names.


For more information

For more information please contact:

Kristian Justesen
Manager, Communications and Media Relations
Email: justesk@lao.on.ca