Please note that all Legal Aid Ontario offices, as well as our toll‑free number, will be closed on Monday, Feb. 18 for Family Day. All offices and the call centre will resume regular business hours on Tuesday, Feb. 19.
Posted on: Monday, May 5 /2008
Testing on the new Simplified Online Application Process (SOAP) was successfully expanded to a pilot group of third party users in early May. More than 20 bar lawyers and eight agencies with a total of nearly 50 new users can now submit SOAP applications on behalf of their clients 24/7.
In addition to submitting SOAP applications, third party users have access to a new library real time training about the SOAP application process. The LAO Communications and Innovations Department developed a series of online video "podcasts", each of which addresses a separate topic from basic client intake specific certificate type applications.
The roll-out to third parties builds on the success of the Toronto Area Office pilot in April 2008. Users in the area office pilot were pleased with how quickly straightforward applications could be processed and approved.
Processing time for SOAP reduced intake time by 62 per cent on these types of applications and the average time to review them decreased from seven to four minutes. These valuable time savers enable staff to dedicate more time to complex applications, and reduce decision wait time for clients.
Based on positive feedback from users in the Toronto Office pilot, SOAP is being rolled out for use by all area offices across the province. Although originally designed for third party users, the pilot identified significant benefits for front line staff.
Using SOAP in area offices supports quicker decisions and fewer court delays. Because of its online virtual platform, it's accessible from anywhere with the proper passwords and permissions and it is conducive to expanding legal aid applications in courthouses, a priority initiative at LAO.
SOAP will be rolled out gradually to area offices across the province and is currently being implemented in Brampton, London and Etobicoke. A detailed rollout plan for all of the area offices is in the works.
Use of the new Online Lawyer Acknowledgement portal is growing with the private bar. More than 7600 certificates have been acknowledged. More and more lawyers are taking advantage of the time savings and simplicity OLA has to offer.
The OLA application recently underwent a significant upgrade with the launch of version 2.0. The enhanced version provides a number of features, acknowledging change of solicitor certificates and providing individual lawyers with hardcap status information.