LAO Expression of Interest Criminal Litigation Counsel
Legal Aid Ontario has posted on its website an Expression of Interest for service contracts with individual members of the bar to provide legal services for serious cases as needed for clients who cannot find counsel who will accept legal aid certificates.
- These contractors will provide LAO with the ability to fill a range of litigation and representation gaps quickly and with flexibility.
- The expression of interest, that is available on the LAO website, will help to ensure the availability of counsel for low-income people charged with serious criminal offences.
LAO is looking to attract lawyers of mixed seniority (five to twenty years) with practices devoted to criminal law that will contract with LAO.
LAO has a statutory obligation to promote access to justice by providing consistently high quality legal aid services to low-income individuals in Ontario. The Legal Aid Services Act requires LAO to “provide legal aid services by any method it considers appropriate, this includes “entering into agreements with lawyers, groups of lawyers or law firms under which the lawyer, group or law firm provides legal services."
LAO will take action as necessary, within the framework of the Legal Aid Services Act, to ensure we continue to fulfill our legislated obligation to promote access to justice in Ontario by providing high quality legal aid services for low-income individuals throughout Ontario.
Service Agreement Contract - Background
The service agreements with contractors will delineate payment terms, quality assurance, and accountability, define the role of LAO policies and protocols and reflect the following principles:
- Contractors will maintain a private practice;
- Contractors will be available to accept cases, including cases in which Fisher and similar applications are pending, and will have access to clients who may not be able to obtain a lawyer who will accept a legal aid certificate – they will only refuse work because of conflicts, competence or availability within a reasonable period of time;
- Service providers will receive a general retainer of $5000 to cover all of their administrative costs in relation to maintaining availability, meeting with clients looking for counsel, and participating in Fisher applications.
- Service providers will receive a per case administration fee to reflect the impact on his or her practice of having to accept cases on short notice, perhaps delay or refuse other work or retain agents to handle existing cases, and so forth. Only designated cases will be eligible for the fee. The proposed feee for Northwest and Northeast Districts is $5,000. For elsewhere in Ontario it is $2,000.
- The lawyers’ work on LAO cases will be case managed by the Major Case Management Office based on internal criteria and policies;
- LAO will not guarantee annual workload or fees;
- LAO will provide a dedicated case manager for contractors to ensure the efficient processing of all administrative, payment and disbursement matters;
- Lawyers will be obligated to adhere to LAO polices and protocols on cases;
- Lawyers will agree to evaluation of their work through various means; and
- The contract may be cancelled at the request of either party but the contractors obligation to the clients he or she has obtained during the life of the contract will continue.