Clearer billing processes, faster payments,
more support


Our progress

LAO met with CDLPA, the FLA, the CLA, the Mental Health Bar, the RLA, and the OBA in August and September 2013 to ask for their suggestions on how we can improve our administrative processes and communications. They told us what they want us to do to:

  • simplify and expedite the certificate billing process,
  • speed up payments to the private bar,
  • clarify and improve our communications,
  • provide more support for lawyers.

Together we identified more than 60 specific concerns. LAO is committed to resolving all of them and to sharing the valuable feedback we received, timelines on when we plan to implement resolutions, and success measures.

Progress reports

September
2014

28 resolved    36 in progress


Resolved solutions

Item 1

The level of knowledge and customer service from the Lawyer Service Centre (LSC) is inconsistent.

All LSC staff were provided refresher training on the LSC role

Training material in included on our Intranet Site for reference

We are piloting dedicated LSC Staff to provide services to lawyers only, to ensure focus on LSC roles and responsibilities


Item 3

The rules for disbursements authorizations are not well understood, i.e.:

  • photocopying
  • what is the definition of a client of modest means
  • cost of health records and interpreters

Interim solution: Invoices will be paid to tariff max if disbursement pushes account over limit. See:


Item 4

LAOs administrative processes take up too much of lawyers time.

LAO has provided how to bill videos to assist lawyers in the billing process.

See: How to bill videos

As an ongoing commitment to the bar LAO is continuing to hold billing sessions across the province to provide ongoing training.


Item 5

LAO questions the timing of hearings before the Consent and Capacity Board (CCB) when in fact hearings are scheduled at any time of the day or week, and on very short notice.

LAO has informed staff that CCB hearings may be scheduled at atypical times, and on short notice.


Item 6

The process for opting out of a block fee is not understood by private bar lawyers.

LAO has provided further communication to the bar about the process for obtaining from the district area director an exception to bill under the tariff rather than as a block fee.

See block fee FAQs
Q: Can individual certificates be excluded from the block fee program?

In addition, revised Block Fee training is set to be rolled out in the Fall of 2014.


Item 7

LAO should establish a single point of contact for CCB certificate matters in the GTA to make it easier to resolve scheduling and other conflicts.

Bar receives weekly communication from designated representative in the GTA in support of this request.


Item 8

The processes for requesting payment on accounts more than 30 days prior to the issuance of the certificate is not well understood by the private bar.

LAO has provided further information to the bar about the process for backdating certificates to obtain payments for work conducted more than 30 days prior to issuance of certificate.

See:
How to backdate your account
Monday, February 3, 2014


Item 9

Deadlines for billing outside the billing period need to be better communicated.

LAO has provided additional information to the private bar about how to bill on time.

See:
New feature on Legal Aid Online to help lawyers submit bills on time
Friday, November 22, 2013


Item 10

It is unclear to panel lawyers who they should contact at LAO for a variety of matters and issues.

LAO has prepared a message for the bar on who does what at LAO.

See:
Contacts for lawyers


Item 11

Information about the mid-level case management program is not widely known.

LAO has provided further information to the bar on how to submit requests for mid-case management.

See:
Submitting requests for mid-level case management budget on the portal


Item 12

Lawyers cannot reset their passwords outside of regular business hours.

LAO has provided a message to the bar on how to reset passwords.

See:
How to change your password

In addition, LAOs IT department is developing solutions for lawyers who are locked out of their accounts in the Summer of 2014.


Item 13

Adequate notice should be provided to lawyers about lawyer billing portal outages. Regular portal maintenance should be scheduled for non-peak times.

LAO has created a new message on the portal clarifying when the site may be down.

See:
Portal


Item 14

LAO should review and make forms on the LAO website more user-friendly.

As a short term solution, LAO has provided a new search function to find the right form.

LAO is continuing to review ways to make our forms more helpful to the bar.

User testing to commence this quarter.


Item 18

Timelines for getting case budgets approved can be lengthy.

LAO has reviewed processes within the BCM program timelines and has made improvements to improve response time.


Item 21

LAO should be more responsive to lawyers needs and provide training opportunities for billing.

LAO has started a library of videos to help lawyers learn LAO billing practices.

LAO will continue to expand the video library and other training material for lawyers.

Billing seminars are also being scheduled across the province to support lawyers.


Item 22

LAO does not fund concurrent refugee and/or immigration services.

LAO will fund concurrent refugee/immigration matters based on merit assessment policy.

See:
Concurrent refugee/immigration service coverage


Item 25

Codes on lawyer deposit slips do not always align with actual reasons for billing decisions or are inconsistent with staff explanations.

LAO has completed a review of systems and processes to identify the issue and has retrained staff on the use and questions regarding payment messages.


Item 26

There can be discrepancies between information received electronically on deposit slips and the information contained in the system.

LAO has completed a review of systems and processes to identify the issue and has retrained staff on the use and questions regarding deposit notices.


Item 27

The unbundling for Refugee Protection Division (RPD) certificates doesnt reflect actual distribution of work.

LAO will redistribute (RPD) certificate tariff hours 7 hours for Basis of Claim (BoC) up from 5 hours and 9 hours for hearing preparation down from 11 hours.

See:
RPD certificates


Item 28

Parking should be allowed as a disbursement.

LAO has reviewed this request. A link to the existing policy has been provided to clarify on currently policies. LAO may review this issue at a later date.

See:
Link to existing LAO policy


Item 30

Correspondence from the Audit and Compliance Unit to lawyers is unsigned. Lawyers should be able to communicate directly with the authors of correspondence related to their accounts.

LAO has reviewed the process and developed standard letters. Requirement for lawyers to contact the ACU only through the portal has also been removed. The letters now include one central phone number for general inquiries; as well the general ACU email address.


Item 31

LAO recovers funds for accounts which have been closed for a long time.

LAO should provide lawyers with sufficient information to be able to dispute recovery of funds on a closed account.

Random examinations are current and final billed within the last year. Examination of multiple accounts with high risk of recovery can go back to 2011 as these relate to noncompliance with double billing or with high potential for recovery of funds.


Item 34

LAO should take responsibility for all other elements for assignment of costs once its signed.

LAO is currently analyzing feasibility and a communication to be done in next B3 targeted for summer 2014.


Item 46

Lawyers requests to Lawyer Service Centre (LSC) to fix mistakes made on the portal are not always completed.

LAOs has reviewed this issued and developed a 48 hour turnaround process to address this issue.

Updates on unresolved issues are provided weekly to Lawyer by LSC Staff.


Item 47

Lawyers would like somebody to call if they feel they arent getting properly served.

At this time LAO does not anticipant the role of an ombudsman for Lawyers.

Improvements to the LSC is expected to resolve lawyer concerns.


Item 50

There are concerns about Lawyer Service Centre representatives knowledge as well as its tone and client service.

A dedicated LSC staff plan has been implemented.


Item 55

Funding is not available for lawyers to make post-hearing submissions to the Federal Court regarding certified questions.

LAO will fund time required to make post-hearing submissions to the Federal Court on certified questions through discretion.

See:
Discretion available for submissions on Federal Court questions for certification


Item 56

LAO no longer issues Judicial Review (JR) opinion certificates.

Interim Solution with the addition of staff services (March 24, 2014)

See:
Judicial review


All solutions

Lawyer feedback and LAO solutions
September 2014
PDF, 132 KB