Second chair program
March 2021 update: second chair expansion for equity-seeking groups
Hands‑on training for junior lawyers, paid mentorship opportunities for senior lawyers
The second chair program allows new or mid‑career lawyers to benefit from the knowledge and experience of senior lawyers. With one lawyer serving as the ‘second chair’ on a case, new or mid‑career lawyers have an opportunity to obtain hands‑on training from more experienced counsel to allow them to better serve the needs of low‑income clients. The program is directed exclusively to private bar lawyers working on Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) funded cases. As program funding is limited for each fiscal, please submit your application as soon as possible.
There are two possible options for second chair opportunities:
1. Case-by-case program
Some second chair opportunities are approved on a case-by-case basis.
Who can apply:
A new or mid‑career lawyer who is tackling an interesting legal aid case for which he/she needs assistance can submit a mentee application form asking for a senior lawyer to act as a second chair. Acceptance to the program would allow for a more senior lawyer to work on the case as second chair and be compensated.
A senior lawyer working on an interesting legal aid case that he/she believes would provide a useful learning opportunity can submit a mentor application form. Acceptance to the program would allow for a more junior lawyer to work on the case as second chair and be compensated.
Approval for the case‑by‑case program will be based on:
- Whether the case provides a good learning opportunity
- Whether the mentor has experience in that particular area of law and as a mentor
- Commitment of the junior lawyer to legal aid work.
See the mentor, mentee and case criteria for more specific details.
To apply for the case‑by‑case program, please fill out the mentor or mentee application form
2. Pre-approved mentor program (for small to medium sized cases in various areas of law)
As an expansion to the second chair program, senior lawyers can obtain pre‑approval for a pre‑determined number of mentoring hours.
This program is open to lawyers working on small to medium‑sized legal aid funded cases in areas such as family, refugee, mental health and criminal law. For Big Case Management applications, please see the case‑by‑case program (above).
Senior lawyers can be sole practitioners or senior members of firms who are prepared to mentor less experienced lawyers from outside their firm.
Selected senior lawyers can be pre‑approved for a defined number of second chair hours. The senior lawyer can use these hours on a number of different cases, without having to re‑apply to LAO for approval on a case‑by‑case basis.
Pre‑approved senior lawyers will enjoy significant autonomy in mentoring legal aid cases. They will decide:
- what certificate cases will provide the best mentoring opportunities
- how the mentoring should be provided
- who amongst LAO lawyers would most benefit from mentoring.
Who can apply?
A senior lawyer who is experienced in providing mentoring or continuing legal education, and is working on legal aid cases that he/she believes would provide a useful learning opportunity for less experienced lawyers.
How are lawyers paid?
For a certificate to be issued and payment made, the pre‑approved mentor will report to LAO the type of case and the number of hours that will be dedicated to mentoring. LAO will issue a “second chair certificate” with set authorized hours based on this report. The second chair certificates will be issued to the lawyer who does not already hold a certificate in the matter.
It is expected that pre‑approved second chairs will be providing assistance on cases before a second chair certificate is issued. However, Legal Aid billing rules require that a pre‑approved second chair mentor produces a report and has a certificate issued within 30 days of commencing that hands‑on training.
For LAO to issue a certificate, the mentor submits a completed reporting form.
To apply, please fill out the pre‑approved mentor form.
- Mentor application form
- Mentee application form
- Pre-approved mentor application form
- Pre-approved mentor payment report
For more information on either program, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lawyers interested in the program can contact:
- Marcus Pratt, Deputy Director, Policy at PrattM@lao.on.ca
- the district director general
- the executive lead for LAO’s Refugee Services Transformation for refugee/immigration opportunities
- a case manager for Big Case Management support.