In response to concerns raised in the March 19 edition of Law Times (see “Lawyers skeptical of LAO’s ‘phenomenal’ changes”), when a client receives a Legal Aid Ontario certificate, he or she can take it to one of more than 4,000 private practice lawyers in Ontario who participate in the certificate program.
Of the more than 100,000 certificates issued to clients each year, 93 per cent are acknowledged by a private lawyer, meaning a lawyer has accepted the certificate and started working on the case.
The remaining seven per cent are matters that are often resolved without the need for a lawyer or the clients made alternative arrangements. The acknowledgment rate has remained unchanged over the past five years.
LAO’s client service centre receives more than 1,300 client calls per day and close to 300,000 calls per year. Wait times are below three minutes, which is consistent with industry norms.
Clients who are unable to wait on the phone have the option to use our callback feature that maintains their position in the queue while allowing them to key in their phone number. Clients receive a call from a legal aid representative when their position in the queue becomes available.
A 2011 client survey showed a satisfaction rating of more than 90 per cent from clients who accessed LAO services over the phone and a 95-per-cent satisfaction rate from those who accessed legal aid services at an LAO courthouse location or district office.
Director of communications and public affairs
Legal Aid Ontario