Exceptions Committee Call for Applications

Interested in becoming an exceptions committee member?

Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is looking for Exceptions Committee members. If you're interested in advising LAO on complex criminal matters and making a difference to low-income Ontarians across the province, read on to find out what's involved in being an Exceptions Committee member.

What is the Exceptions Committee?

LAO created the Exceptions Committee in 2001 as an advisory and risk management body on cases anticipated to be unusually expensive or factually or legally complex. It consists of experienced criminal private bar lawyers who review written materials, including budget requests, hear oral submissions from lawyer applicants, and make budgetary recommendations to LAO. The meetings often also assist lawyer applicants develop and focus strategy.

Time commitment

Exceptions Committee members must be able to dedicate approximately two to five hours preparation time per meeting and attend a minimum of one meeting every two months.


Exceptions Committee members will be compensated at LAO's Complex Criminal Rate.

Primary function

Members will be responsible for reviewing written materials and budget requests for complex criminal cases. They will be required to prepare for, and attend at least one meeting every two months, to hear informal oral submissions with questions and answers from lawyer applicants. Meetings are usually held on Tuesday evenings from 4:30 to 7:00. Members must be able to engage, inform, challenge and guide lawyer applicants constructively. After deliberating with fellow Exceptions Committee members, budget recommendations are made consistent with LAO's reasonable private-paying client of modest means. LAO will make a final decision based on the Exceptions Committee's recommendations. The lawyer applicant is advised of the final decision by management of Big Case Management (BCM) Program. In addition, members may be required to serve as mentors and help less experienced counsel by providing advice and guidance on complex motions or difficult issues. Occasionally, LAO may ask members for legal opinions on sensitive issues.

Required skills/qualifications

  • Member in good standing with the Law Society of Ontario
  • Member of LAO's Extremely Serious Matters panel
  • Currently practicing and demonstrated experience in criminal law
  • Experience with LAO clients and with LAO's BCM program
  • Demonstrated ability to manage BCM and jury cases in a cost-effective manner
  • Demonstrated experience, understanding of and compliance with LAO policies and procedures
  • Demonstrated professional judgment
  • Willingness to mentor junior lawyers
  • Well-established reputation for ethics and integrity
  • Able to work together in a team of other Executive Committee members

Preferred skills and experiences

  • Member of the Complex Case Rate panel is an asset
  • Criminal appellate experience is an asset
  • Expertise in particular areas of criminal law is an asset (i.e defence of not criminally responsible; wiretaps; search and seizure; etc.)

Please note that LAO will conduct an internal review of an applicant's history with LAO and may contact references. LAO retains discretion to refuse membership to applicants based on Committee needs. Only those candidates selected for the Exceptions Committee will be notified. LAO will keep applications on file and may contact unsuccessful applicants if future positions become available.

Please note that all applicants are encouraged to provide a valid email address for communication purposes. Applicants may receive written correspondence regarding this job posting directly to the email address provided in their application. As an applicant, it is your responsibility to ensure that you check your email regularly.

LAO values integrity, respect, responsiveness, excellence, independence, accountability, openness and consistency. Our recruitment process reflects our commitment to diversity and inclusion. Accommodation is available under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Are you interested? If so, please complete the short application.