LAO initiative to identify improvements for family and criminal law service in the courts

Posted on: Thursday, February 10, 2011

For the thousands of Ontarians who appear in court each year without a lawyer, Legal Aid Ontario’s duty counsel provide invaluable help.

An integral part of the justice system, duty counsel are staff or private bar lawyers (paid by Legal Aid Ontario) who assist unrepresented people with legal issues including criminal, family, and youth matters.

Legal Aid Ontario is committed to making the duty counsel system as effective as possible, and to that end, completed internal consultations in December aimed at improving family and criminal law duty counsel services.

The enhanced duty counsel project team met with LAO managers and staff from across the province to learn how duty counsel services are delivered in different areas, investigate any gaps in service, and look at how to best use staff and financial resources.

The objectives of the consultations are to develop a duty counsel system that will:

  • offer a streamlined process for clients, resulting in fewer court appearances, and facilitating earlier resolution of legal issues;
  • provide a broader range of services through a variety of positions including paralegals and articling students; and
  • continue to support the Province of Ontario’s Justice on Target initiative for criminal courts, and the Four Pillars of family law objectives.

Legal Aid Ontario will post project updates as they become available.

For further information

For questions, or more information, please contact:

Kristian Justesen
Director, Communications and Public Affairs
Phone: 416-979-2352, ext. 4782
Fax: 416-204-4701
Email: and/or