Alternative Fee Arrangement (AFA)

Benefits for lawyers

Why choose an alternative fee arrangement?

Benefits for lawyers

  • Simplicity. An AFA is an annual contract that takes into account the total sum of all fees, disbursements and discretion requests.

  • A simplified administrative process. You do not need to make requests for discretion. Automatic amendment authorizations are issued for certificates through Legal Aid Online, for example, travel, bail reviews, written submissions to the Refugee Board, substantive custody and access authorizations. Reporting is streamlined and LAO is working on reducing the administrative processes even further for AFA lawyers.

  • Predictable income. The predictability of having regular income from Legal Aid Ontario is a good fit for many lawyers in private practice. The monthly payments help to smooth the variability of case-by-case billing. Furthermore, with a regular stream of income, you can more easily make decisions about hiring and expanding your practice.

  • More autonomy. You determine the best way to support legal aid clients with LAO funds. We recognize that your case costs vary with the complexity of matters and that you prefer to have more autonomy with time management. Under an AFA, you decide among your legal aid files how much time to give to each particular case.

  • Flexible contract. AFA contracts are not universal, cookie-cutter documents on the contrary, you and LAO will build your individualized AFA contract together, based on the specifics of your practice. Furthermore, your AFA is flexible, with built-in features to address unanticipated adjustments if your caseload increases or decreases, or if illness or other family emergencies occur. After more than a year of experience with the AFA pilot project, our contracts are even better designed to support your practice.

  • A dedicated case manager. LAO will appoint a senior official (typically the director general for your district) as your single point of contact. This eliminates many of the multiple interactions currently necessary with LAO departments. This senior official will work with you to make the AFA arrangement mutually beneficial and successful.

Benefits for your clients

  • Efficient, timely and high quality legal services.
  • No change in legal aid services, rights or eligibility requirements.
  • No delays in proceeding due to the need for authorizations and approvals.

Benefits to LAO

  • Reduces LAO administrative time and costs.
  • Helps LAO to use funding effectively to support lawyers who are committed to legal aid clients.
  • Helps LAO to address service gaps and underserviced areas.