Legal Aid Ontario conducts province-wide consultations to improve its discretion request process

Posted on: Monday, April 30, 2012

April 30 – Between May 7 and May 25, 2012, Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) will reach out to criminal, family and refugee lawyers across the province for their feedback on proposed guidelines to improve the discretion request process.

Discretion is a compensation tool that allows LAO to approve, under exceptional circumstances, lawyers’ written requests for additional compensation above the hourly tariff rate. Lawyers who represent vulnerable clients, manage complex cases or achieve extraordinary outcomes can apply to LAO in writing for discretion pay.

The feedback from these province-wide consultations will help LAO develop guidelines that make the discretion request process clearer for lawyers. By improving discretion, LAO aims to streamline payments and reduce administration, enable LAO staff to provide quick, consistent decisions on requests, and ensure fair and effective stewardship of public funds in providing legal services to legal aid clients.

Fast facts about discretion

  • $50 is the average cost to review and process a discretion request
  • 25% of all discretion requests were for less than three hours
  • 9.5% of certificates have discretion payments
  • 84% of the provincial panel requested discretion
  • Of the approximately $12 million of discretion paid to lawyers in 2010-2011:
    • $6.5 million on criminal certificates
    • $4.5 million on family cases
    • $600,000 on refugee cases
    • $400,000 on civil cases
  • 10% of all non-BCM certificate payments are discretion payments

We welcome all feedback from Ontario’s lawyers

Information about the in-person and live-video consultation sessions is on LAO’s registration page.

Lawyers unable to attend a consultation session can still provide their feedback online.


For questions or further information, please contact:

Kristian Justesen
Manager, Communications and Public Affairs
Phone: 416-979-2352, ext.4782
Email: and/or