Duty counsel authorization process: changes effective August 10, 2022

Under Legal Aid Ontario’s new minimum experience requirements for roster members, which took effect on Aug. 10, 2022, all duty counsel authorizations have a time limit of 24 months from the day it is approved.

Upon expiry of the authorization, the roster member can request to renew it for another 24-month period. There is no maximum number of renewals; a duty counsel authorization can be renewed indefinitely. If the roster member does not request a renewal before it expires, the authorization is revoked.

A roster member’s authorization to provide duty counsel services in a specific area of law is subject to a provisional period. LAO reserves the right to revoke an authorization at any time during this period.

Before an authorization is renewed or revoked, LAO may conduct an evaluation of the roster member’s performance during the authorization period. A roster member whose authorization has expired and/or been revoked must wait 12 months before reapplying for authorization.

LAO may refuse to grant or renew an authorization to provide duty counsel services if there are already enough authorized roster members in a particular district. In making the decision to grant or renew an authorization, LAO may consider additional factors, such as the specific needs of clients in a particular district, staffing and per diem requirements of the Court and financial considerations.

Questions & answers

I’m already a member of the duty counsel roster. How does this affect me?

Existing roster members authorized to provide duty counsel services will be asked to confirm their ongoing interest in retaining their duty counsel authorizations as part of the 2022 lawyer self-report, which will be available on Legal Aid Online as of Jan. 2, 2023. 

Roster members may choose to retain their duty counsel authorization for 24 months or resign the authorization. If a roster member chooses to retain their duty counsel authorization, the 24-month period will begin, effective March 31, 2023.

No roster member who submits their annual self-report and chooses to retain their duty counsel authorization will lose their authorization on March 31, 2023.

What happens at renewal?

Prior to the expiry of the 24-month period, LAO will notify roster members whose duty counsel authorization is expiring through Legal Aid Online. Roster members will have the opportunity to request renewal for an additional 24 months in the lawyer portal. Details regarding decisions on renewal are set out in the minimum experience requirements.

What if I joined the roster after Aug. 10, 2022?

Roster members who joined the LAO roster after Aug. 10, 2022, and are authorized to provide duty counsel services, will retain their authorization and are not required to file a 2022 lawyer self-report. However, they will still be required to complete and submit an annual self-report in the future.

For these roster members admitted after Aug. 10, 2022, the date of the duty counsel authorization expiry is 24 months from the date of approval to the roster.

What is the duty counsel provisional period?

All new applications for duty counsel authorizations are subject to a provisional period of four months. The provisional period helps ensure that legal aid clients receive high quality services.

What is the duty counsel conditional status?

Lawyers who do not meet the minimum experience requirements at the time they apply to join the roster will be admitted conditionally. They must meet all requirements within 24 months of receiving the conditional authorization.

For more information, please review:

  1. Minimum experience requirements (Rules amending the Legal Aid Services Rules)
  2. New minimum experience requirements for roster member authorizations, effective August 10, 2022