TheOntario Ministry of the Attorney General spent at least $12 million on outsidelegal services last year, according to information disclosed in the 2004-2005public accounts.
exact total however, may be much higher, since the province does not list individual
accounts that are less than $50,000. Overall payments by the ministry for
accounts under $50,000 were $49 million. It is not known what percentage of
this number was made up of legal costs.
top billing firm was Goodmans LLP, which was paid $1.35 million by the ministry
for legal services. It is believed that a large percentage of this total may
have been generated by civil litigator Benjamin Zarnett, who has
been retained by the province. He is currently acting for the government in the
ongoing court proceedings involving Stelco Inc.
spokeswoman for Goodmans said it would not be appropriate for the firm to
comment about any of its retainers, including ones by the province.
second highest total, $639,000, was generated by Toronto firm Hunt Partners LLP. Its senior
partner, Douglas Hunt, was retained by the Ontario Judicial Council in 2004 to
prosecute the Kerry Evans disciplinary proceeding. Evans resigned as a
provincial court judge after a disciplinary panel found him guilty of
than 1,000 lawyers employed by the Ministry of the Attorney General earned in
excess of $100,000 in 2004, according to the Public Sector Salary Disclosure
a spokesman for the ministry said it "must occasionally retain outside counsel."
occurs when "specialized expertise" is required, there is a potential conflict
of interest or it is more cost-effective to hire outside counsel, explained
legal bills included payments, generally ranging from about $60,000 to $80,000,
to dozens of individual lawyers across the province, usually in smaller
Tétrault LLP, the former law firm of Attorney General Michael Bryant, charged
$487,000, the ministry's fourth-highest legal bill. Goodman and Carr LLP, where
Bryant's wife Susan Abram-ovitch is a partner, had the sixth-highest bill at
Crawley stressed that since Bryant was named attorney
general and "at his request," he has been "screened from all matters" where
McCarthy Tétrault or Goodman and Carr have been retained.
information on legal costs, while public, is not available online and is in
volume three of the public accounts.
every provincial ministry has significant outside legal bills, although it's an
arduous process to get an overall picture of the payments without painstakingly
going through the public accounts books.
some of the government's other payouts include $852,000 from the Ministry of
Energy to Osler Hoskin Harcourt LLP in 2004. Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie
LLP billed the Ministry of Health $522,000 and Management Board Secretariat
$104,000. Hughes Amys LLP was also paid $988,000 by
Management Board Secretariat.