LAO pilots special authorization for independent legal advice
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Under a new pilot aimed at reducing unrepresented family litigants and improving outcomes, Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is using special family authorizations with Family Law Information Centre duty counsel panel lawyers to provide independent legal advice (ILA) for mediation clients.
Mediation clients in select locations can call LAO’s toll-free line to learn if they’re financially eligible for up to six hours with a lawyer, who can then help the client before, during and after entering into any legal agreement based on the mediation. Clients can receive advice from a lawyer about the mediation process, assistance in preparing for the mediation, or develop a better understanding of their options. The lawyer can also assist with obtaining a court order or binding agreement to enforce the terms of the mediation agreement.
The pilot will be available in the following locations:
- North York
- Barrie and Simcoe County
- Owen Sound
Duty counsel panel lawyers who are retained by eligible mediation clients must notify LAO by completing the authorization form found on the LAO website (under Forms library in the "Information for Lawyers" tab) and faxing it to the district offices of the participating pilot location. To be paid the full six hours, the lawyer will need to provide a copy of the mediation agreement and a final order where appropriate.
The pilot is the result of valuable feedback from various stakeholders that LAO consulted with. It is one of a number of family law projects that LAO is undertaking thanks to $30 million over four years in additional funding from the provincial government. LAO is investing the majority of this funding into making sustainable improvements to family law programs and services.
If you have further questions, please contact the Lawyer Service Centre at 416-979-9934 or toll free at 1-866-979-9934.