Tell us what you think about our conflict management program for family law
Monday, April 28, 2014
Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) has developed a pilot program to manage conflicts of interest for family law services. This program allows LAO’s lawyers and staff to meet their ethical obligations under the Rules of Professional Conduct while ensuring that LAO continues to meet its mandate to serve low income Ontarians. We value the opinion of the private bar and ask for your input on this matter by May 20, 2014.
In October 2012, after meeting with the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC), LAO commenced the conflict management pilot program at four locations providing family law services. The pilot program involved:
- informing clients that other staff who work for or on behalf of LAO may assist the opposite side of their matter and
- obtaining the client’s consent to provide service in this circumstance.
In July of 2013, staff reviewed the results of the pilot program and proposed that it be modified and implemented province-wide.
LAO met with representatives of the LSUC to discuss modifying the program and is now seeking your feedback on whether it should be rolled out across the province.
Modified conflict management program
LAO lawyers will still inform clients of potential conflicts and ask clients to sign the consent document, but only for enhanced services, such as:
- preparing court documents for a client
- making efforts to assist the client on each court appearance
- providing assistance that requires meeting with clients between court dates (for example, to prepare additional court documents).
This plan allows LAO to balance the need for efficient brief services with the need to inform clients of potential conflict issues in cases in which lawyers would have substantial knowledge of a client’s case.
As more unrepresented people become involved in the family justice system, LAO believes that the conflict management program will allow LAO to continue to assist as many clients as possible, while ensuring their interests are protected, and while supporting our staff and service providers to meet their professional obligations.
Please provide feedback
If you have any comments or questions regarding LAO’s conflict management program please provide them, via email or fax, by May 20, 2014 to:
Roderick Bennett, Manager, Legal Services Development
Legal Aid Ontario
Fax: (416) 979-8669