Second chair mentoring program update

Monday, July 18, 2016

Legal Aid Ontario’s (LAO) second chair program is supporting refugee and immigration lawyers throughout Ontario by recruiting experienced lawyers to act as mentors.

LAO’s mentoring program

LAO’s second chair program for lawyers puts new or mid-career private bar lawyers working on LAO-funded cases together with senior lawyers, who are rich in knowledge and experience in all areas of law. Funding is available to cover the cost of:

  • a senior lawyer to act as second chair for a new or mid-career lawyer
  • a junior lawyer to act as second chair for a senior lawyer on a complex case.

Helping refugee and immigration lawyers meet panel standards

LAO’s refugee and immigration program may require new calls and refugee and immigration lawyers who need to address quality issues to work with a mentor for six to 12 months as a condition of membership on the general, appellate or both panels.

To meet this condition, mentees work with experienced LAO-approved refugee and immigration mentors through LAO’s second chair program—so long as the mentor does not practice in association and is not in an employment relationship with the lawyer being mentored.

As the chart below indicates, the program has so far provided 49 lawyers seeking membership on both refugee panels with support from 24 experienced refugee lawyers—a tremendous success rate considering that Ontario has 300 refugee and immigration panel lawyers in total.


Number of mentors

Number of mentees

London 0 1
Ottawa 5 11
Toronto 18 34 (not including in-firm mentorships)
Windsor 1 3
Total 24 49


“We are grateful to the many mentors who continue sharing their experience and knowledge in order to ensure that our vulnerable refugee and immigration clients receive high quality service.”

— Jawad Kassab, executive lead, Refugee and Immigration Program — GTA.