Recognizing National Duty Counsel Day 2022
Published: October 27, 2022
We are proud to take part, with all the provincial and territorial members of the Association of Legal Aid Plans of Canada (ALAP), in National Duty Counsel Day on October 27. This day, which ALAP established in 2021, enables us to raise awareness of the vital work duty counsel lawyers do for Canadians.
In Ontario, duty counsel are legal aid staff, clinic staff or private bar lawyers funded on a per diem basis, who provide legal advice and representation to low income people in courts and tribunals without lawyers in criminal, family, child protection and landlord-tenant law matters. They work under immense pressure and time constraints to protect the rights of our clients, provide them with expert legal help, and guide them through our justice system.
Duty counsel assist Canadians more than 1.2 million times in a typical year, including close to 1 million assists in Ontario. As an example, criminal duty counsel in Ontario resolve 40,000 criminal cases a year through diversion, discharge, withdrawal of charges, or informed and appropriate guilty pleas. They also conduct the majority of all bail hearings in the province. Ontario family duty counsel lawyers settle over 25,000 matters and negotiate family law disputes over the course of a year. Clinic staff acting as tenant duty counsel assist approximately 15,000 clients a year at Ontario’s Landlord Tenant Board. In all this and other crucial work, duty counsel rely on the support of equally dedicated support staff.
The focus of National Duty Counsel Day this year is on educating students about duty counsel, and ensuring our younger generation is aware of their rights should they or their loved ones ever need to turn to duty counsel for legal advice and representation.
Please visit the Duty Counsel Day website at www.knowdutycounsel.ca to find background information on duty counsel, various resources and details on this year’s Duty Counsel Day celebrations, including the full listing of landmarks across Canada that will be lit up in red on October 27 in honour of this special day.
Duty counsel lawyers are the unsung heroes of our justice system and I am very pleased to have this day to celebrate their achievements. I would like to thank all duty counsel, and the dedicated staff who support them, for their hard work, professionalism and commitment to access to justice for all.
David Field (he/him)
President & CEO
Legal Aid Ontario