LAO studying inter-professional legal teams to increase frontline services for clients
Posted: Thursday, March 13, 2014
Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is studying how inter-professional teams of staff lawyers, paralegals and legal aid workers can work together to provide high quality services in duty counsel offices. As part of the study, LAO will identify promising practices that enable teams to better provide services that reflect the needs of local clients and courthouses.
The study will engage existing paralegal staff in up to four duty counsel offices. Current paralegal staff already provide clients and the courts with valuable services, such as working with clients and sureties to prepare information for lawyers and helping to triage clients.
As part of the study, participating staff with paralegal licenses will make fuller use of their licenses, skills and training to address the needs of local clients and courthouses. Paralegals may provide legal advice, negotiate withdrawals, enter guilty pleas and/or speak to sentence on matters within their scope of practice.
Participating paralegal staff will be supervised and mentored by lawyers and supported with training and new quality performance tools designed specifically for paralegals
Paralegals are licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada to provide services in summary conviction matters where the accused faces no more than six months imprisonment and in provincial offences matters. In accordance, with the Legal Aid Services Act, all non-lawyer staff at LAO work under the supervision of lawyers.
For questions or further information, please contact:
Kirsti Mathers McHenry
Director, Strategic Initiatives & Planning
Corporate Services Division
Legal Aid Ontario
Phone: (416) 979-2352 x6404