Amendments to the Legal Aid Services Rules (Schedule 2 – Fees and Disbursements) to come into force on October 16, 2023
Published: September 27, 2023
LAO is working to attract and retain lawyers to provide high-quality services to legally aided clients. This is why, effective October 16, 2023, LAO is improving the compensation structure for private bar lawyers who are paid to do legal aid work.
The compensation structure for legal aid lawyers in Ontario has remained largely unchanged over the past 25 years. In addition, the hourly rates and block fee rates have not increased since 2015, making this the first new investment in improving hourly compensation for private bar lawyers in Ontario in nearly a decade.
“We are pleased to be able to increase compensation to the lawyers on our roster to better reflect the realities of the important work they do. The lawyers who take on legal aid cases provide critical legal representation to people who would otherwise have to navigate the justice system on their own,” says David Field, President and CEO of LAO. “LAO looks forward to working with these committed professionals to continue providing quality legal services to some of Ontario’s most marginalized citizens.”
LAO’s changes to the compensation structure for roster lawyers are an acknowledgement of the increased complexity of providing legal aid services. LAO is increasing the amount allocated for certain proceedings and introducing payment for additional steps in proceedings that were not previously covered by LAO.
LAO is increasing the hourly rate and block fee rates paid to lawyers by five per cent per year over each of the next three years.
In order to support the implementation of key tariff improvements, such as the hourly rate, in a timely manner and avoid delays, LAO is taking a phased approach with implementation. The first phase, to be implemented on October 16, 2023 includes the increase to the hourly rates, increase to the block fee rates, payment of per diem duty counsel services according to the lawyers’ tier rate, and targeted increases to the number of hours allocated under the tariff.
The proposed second phase of implementation is expected to take place in 2024 and would include increases to the number of allocated hours and block fees for certain criminal proceedings, and new areas of coverage under the tariff.
In order to implement the increases on October 16, 2023, LAO will be updating the billing portal the weekend prior to the launch. As a result, Legal Aid Online will be unavailable on October 14 and 15, 2023.
To review the tariff reforms for each area of law, please refer to the following summaries:
- Criminal law tariff reforms
- Family law tariff reforms
- Child, Youth and Family Services Act (CYFSA) tariff reforms
- Immigration and refugee law tariff reforms
Visit the LASA 2020 Rules and Policies section of the website to view the amended rules that come into effect on Oct. 16.