Immigration Detention Representation Program

Panel lawyer participation

LAO will be selecting an initial 15 applicants from the general immigration and refugee law panel to participate in the one‑year Immigration Detention Representation Program (IDRP) pilot.

The IDRP will use a collaborative approach between refugee panel lawyers acting on certificates and LAO’s Refugee Law Offices (RLO) in Toronto and Hamilton. The program will connect unrepresented detained clients with counsel in time to ensure meaningful representation at the 48‑hour review hearing, and subsequent hearings, if the client remains in detention. It will also provide training and mentorship to panel lawyers doing detention work. The aim of this hybrid model is to ensure access to counsel for all unrepresented financially eligible detainees.

In the IDRP:

  • RLOs will communicate with the Immigration Division Registry on a daily basis to connect with unrepresented persons in detention who have detention review hearings the following day.

  • RLOs will coordinate among RLO staff counsel and panel lawyers participating in the IDRP to ensure representation at the next day’s hearings.

  • Detainees will maintain the ability to obtain a legal aid certificate outside of the IDRP if they so choose and retain a panel lawyer who is not participating in the program.

  • Panel lawyers are not required to participate in the IDRP to represent a detainee on a certificate.

  • The IDRP training will also be available to all panel lawyers, whether or not they participate in the program.

How to apply and what to include in your application

Interested applicants should send a resume, including two professional references (name and address only) to by December 11, 2020. The application package should include the following:

  1. A statement of interest in the program;
  2. A description of any past experience with immigration detention matters;
  3. A brief statement outlining why legal representation is important in the immigration detention context;
  4. A detention review transcript at which the applicant provided representation, if available.

Selection criteria

An initial 15 participants will be selected for the launch of the IDRP in January 2021. The number of panel participants may change after the first six months of the pilot, based on feedback from clients, stakeholders, and participating lawyers. Both new and experienced calls are encouraged to apply.

Selection of the 15 panel participants will be based on the following criteria:

  • Demonstrated interest in immigration detention matters
  • Past experience in immigration detention matters
  • Availability to meet program participation expectations
  • Record in good standing with the LSO and LAO
  • Feedback from references provided by the applicants

As the IDRP is being launched on a pilot basis, LAO retains sole discretion to select lawyers for the program and remove participating lawyers if program expectations cannot be met. If the program continues after the one-year pilot period, stakeholders and panel lawyers will be invited to provide feedback on the selection process.

Program participation expectations

Panel lawyers participating in the IDRP should be available for up to three detention hearings per month, typically on very short notice. Scheduling will be based on the lawyer’s availability and the demand for services.

Participants must also successfully complete the IDRP training program, which is eligible for CPD hours.