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Why do legal work for LAO?

Posted on: Wednesday, September 2/09

Choosing to be a legal aid lawyer can be more than just a stepping stone to shaping an admirable and distinguished career. Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) has much to offer new or seasoned lawyers who decide to make a difference by doing legal aid work.

Legal Aid Ontario's ongoing modernization initiatives - from online certificate amendments to faster payment processes - are making it easier for lawyers to do business with LAO.

Certificate lawyers also have access to resources such as LAO LAW, Legal Aid Ontario's research team. The online service is free for legal aid lawyers, and provides facta in addition to a wide range of research memoranda in criminal, family, immigration and refugee, corrections, mental health law, and Aboriginal legal issues.

The site is categorized by area of law to facilitate searches and includes a forensic science resource database to help lawyers with the rudiments of forensic law. Approximately 2600 private bar lawyers currently use LAO LAW for their research needs.

In addition to its research site, LAO LAW offers The Bottom-Line and LAW@LAO for the most current information on breaking developments in case law and legislation. Lawyers have the option of subscribing by area of law - family, criminal or refugee - or keeping updated by logging on the site.

LAO LAW's involvement in training seminars promote further practical education for lawyers interested in doing legal aid work but who need help transitioning from one area of the law to another. Legal Aid Ontario has supports such as its mentorship program, including an online option through LAO LAW, for practice advice from an experienced practitioner. Legal Aid Ontario also offers group and one-to-one mentorship programs.

Legal Aid Ontario is currently working on a strategy to expose lawyers to various service lines and substantive areas of law through a rotation system. LAO's Lawyer Workforce Strategy, still in its early stages, aims to create a more dynamic, flexible lawyer workforce and offer lawyers a career path that allows lawyers to be more rounded in various areas of law.

For practical experience, legal aid lawyers can cultivate and hone their courtroom and analytical skills through the fast-paced, challenging work of duty counsel. Located in every courthouse in Ontario, duty counsel are at the front lines providing legal advice and representation to low-income individuals across the province. They assist over 700,000 people a year.

Duty counsel work also allows lawyers to become an integral part of the legal community as they build professional contacts with other members of the bar, stakeholders and court staff.

Lawyers can also keep updated on legal policies, standards, guidelines and current events with Information for lawyers, Legal Aid Ontario's website section for lawyers. LAO's billing system, Legal Aid Online, has made legal aid administrative work for lawyers easier, as accounts can be processed faster. Certificate information can now be viewed online instead of having to contact area offices, reducing time spent on administrative responsibilities.

Find out more about the rewards of being a legal aid lawyer: Legal Aid Ontario and you - Partners in Justice