Updated features for duty counsel on Legal Aid Online
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Effective March 30, 2015, duty counsel will need to provide more information when billing on Legal Aid Online. This new information will help LAO improve service for clients and enhance the quality of data LAO collects.
Mandatory court location
When submitting accounts, duty counsel will now be required to indicate, from a drop-down menu, the court location. Courts available for immediate selection will be based on the location in which duty counsel is scheduled to provide duty counsel services and the respective purchase order. For example:
- If you provide criminal duty counsel services in Owen Sound, you will only see court locations for Owen Sound in the drop-down menu.
- If you also provide services in Walkerton, your billings made under the Walkerton duty counsel purchase order will only list courts in Walkerton.
An "other" option is also available for when you provide services outside an Ontario court. This could include:
- Services under the domestic violence program that are provided at a shelter or in the lawyer's office.
- Any other location, such as a general advice clinic, which is not available.
Sometimes we receive duty counsel accounts for services that have already been billed. If the account is not caught immediately, it could lead to a double payment which would result in us requesting a recovery of the overpayment, sometimes months later.
To eliminate this issue, our billing system will now:
- Identify any account submitted that has the same date and time as a previously submitted and approved one; including accounts with overlapping times
- Flag the account as a duplicate and require manual intervention by an LAO staff member.
- Provide options to reject or request an account revision
- Accounts that are duplicates will be rejected while accounts with overlapping times will be returned with the requirement that revisions be made prior to a payment is processed.
Financial eligibility status
When services provided require a financial eligibility test, the "newly eligible" option should be selected to identify clients who became eligible after the threshold was increased in November 2014.
This new field will allow us to gain a better understanding of how many additional people are eligible for duty counsel services as a result of the recent increases to the thresholds.
Further information about using this field will be made available shortly through the district offices and online.
This duty counsel general advice entry shows the new financial eligibility field with the options of eligible, newly eligible, no test and not eligible.
Amending service types
It is now possible to amend the duty counsel service type prior to submitting an account, or after it is sent back for revision. For example: changing the account type from "DC Criminal Adult" to "DC Criminal Youth".
Reminder: changing the account type from criminal to family or family to FLIC may require you to change the service codes.
Additional time fields
The number of fields in which to track time has been increased from two to four. This will allow for better tracking of hours worked by staff and per-diem duty counsel.
The new hours and fees billed form contains four rows available for time tracking as opposed to two.
If you have any questions about any of the changes, please speak with your local Supervisory Duty Counsel or contact the Lawyer Service Centre.