Independent legal advice certificates available province-wide
Posted: Thursday, July 3, 2014
Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is expanding the availability of independent legal advice certificates for mediation clients across the province. This service can now be provided by any family panel lawyer, and in some cases, may be available to both parties.
Starting July 3, 2014, when one of the mediation clients is financially eligible for a lawyer, the other mediation client may also be eligible, as long as they earn up to a maximum of $50,000.
Family panel lawyers retained by mediation clients may now bill through Legal Aid Online up to six hours for independent legal advice before, during and after a client enters into any legal agreement based on mediation. Clients can receive advice from a lawyer about the mediation process, assistance in preparing for the mediation, or information and advice to help them develop a better understanding of their options. A lawyer can also assist with obtaining a court order or binding agreement to enforce the terms of the mediation agreement.
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.
This service is one of a number of programs that LAO is developing with the use of $30 million over four years in additional provincial funding. LAO’s family law strategy aims to reduce the number of unrepresented family litigants, provide an avenue for consensual dispute resolution, expand the early resolution service sector and provide holistic and integrated services.
Each year, LAO helps more than 125,000 low-income Ontarians through a wide range of family law services, including summary legal advice, mediation, assistance from lawyers at family law information centres and family law service centres, representation by private practice lawyers, and settlement conferences.