Law Times

January 20, 2014

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2014 RESOLUTIONS CLASS ACTION REVIEW No-costs rule among the issues considered Follow LAW TIMES on $4.00 • Vol. 25, No. 3 P5 Try to be nice to opposing counsel this year FOCUS ON P7 Privacy Law L aw TIMes P9 TORONTO | BARRIE | HAMILTON | KITCHENER 1-866-685-3311 | January 20, 2014 cLeish Orlando_LT_Jan_20_14.indd 1 How does Ontario legal aid compare? 14-01-15 3:15 PM U.K. lawyers' strike shows systems under stress globally BY YAMRI TADDESE Law Times W ith legal aid funding cuts sparking a strike by British lawyers, the chairman of the International Legal Aid Group says that country isn't alone as legal aid systems around the world feel the effects of a tough global economy. The British lawyers' strike, the first of its kind in that country, followed a government measure that would see cuts of up to 30 percent to legal fees. Outside the Old Bailey courthouse in London, England, on Jan. 6, protesters decried what they called "savage cuts to funding." According to Alan Paterson, chairman of the International Legal Aid Group, England and Wales spend more money on legal aid than most countries but notes increasing legal needs in an era of austerity have meant tighter budgets for access to justice there as well as in other jurisdictions. "Legal needs tend to grow. We are an increasingly judicialized society and therefore more and more things can be litigated, particularly with our constitutions and the way they've evolved," says Paterson in an interview from Glasgow, Scotland. "That means the demand for legal aid and services . . . just keeps on growing while the ability of the state, and the willingness of the state, to provide it is not keeping pace with that." There are essentially three levers available to rejig the allocation of funds into legal aid, says Paterson: Ontario's legal clinic system 'is one of our really special features,' says Frederick Zemans. reducing fees to lawyers, tightening the eligibility criteria or restricting the scope of legal aid coverage. Although no system is ideal, there are some countries that are weathering the era of austerity better than others, according to Paterson. Comparing legal aid regimes is "far from exact science" due to the differing nature of the systems around the world, he notes, but overall the Netherlands, Scotland, and Northern Ireland fare better than other jurisdictions in terms of the portion of the population that qualifies for legal aid, the scope of the legal issues covered, and how they provide services. According to the Netherlands' Legal Aid Board, approximately 40 per cent of the Dutch population would qualify for legal aid"if circumstances so require." Legal Aid Ontario says 7.1 per cent of Ontarians are eligible for legal aid services. In Scotland, meanwhile, 70 per cent of the population would qualify for legal aid "in practice," Paterson says, noting that a portion of those who would be eligible might have to make "significant" contributions following their representation. Belgium provides what it calls "first-line legal aid" — services limited to information and advice — to every citizen, while a means test applies to representation by legal aid counsel. "If someone is not entitled to second-line legal aid, he has to pay the lawyer himself or if he is insured, the legal costs can probably be covered by his legal expenses insurance," according to a Belgian national Photo: Laura Pedersen See Ontario, page 2 Federal Crowns seeking another big win on salaries Law Times A 49 positions. Last year in the federal tax law section, for example, Treasury Board asked for 30 volunteers from a department of 300 to take buyouts. With attrition, only eight had to step up but the section still lost 30 positions. A March 2012 Senate report revealed salaries for lawyers at the Public Prosecution Section Service of Canada were 40 per cent less than for provincial Crowns. While the gap sometimes leads them to leave the government for private practice, public-sector jobs at least come with attractive pensions and benefits, according to Louise Woollcombe, a senior consultant with the Heller Group Legal and Executive Search Inc. "They can accumulate overtime and take time in lieu. In private practice, it's an expectation you will work overtime. In private practice, you don't get a pension. A consistent salary after age 65 is huge. That's worth something, not to mention the benefits after retirement." LT PM #40762529 terms of our provincial counterparts to third from the bottom over 20 years. Now this deal puts us behind Ontario and year after signing their Alberta," says Blais. first negotiated contract While some are arguing fednetting them a 12-pereral lawyers are going into their cent pay hike for the negotiations in a better position current year, federal lawyers will than their other federal colbe heading back to the negotiation leagues, Blais argues there are table in the next few months as the similar issues at play. Association of Justice Counsel filed "We're working under difficult its notice to bargain on Jan. 9. In 2012, the association, which 'This 2012 deal is only the begin- circumstances. They're asking us to do more with less. They're represents about 2,700 federal ning for us,' says Lisa Blais. heaping on the legislation and lawyers, reached its first negotiated settlement that will expire this May. While the responsibilities and more complex tools to work lawyers got a good result, association president with, such as the mandatory minimum sentence regimes, and they're taking away resources." Lisa Blais says there's more work to do. While lawyers didn't feel the reductions in "This 2012 deal is only the beginning for us. staffing like other areas of the civil service have We had over 20 years of wage restraint, so we stagnated. We went from the top of the list in experienced, the government has eliminated BY JEnnIFER BROWn Recruiting? Post your position on Great rates. Great reach. Great results. Contact Sandy Shutt at for details. JobsInLaw 1-8 pg 5X.indd 1 2/15/11 4:12:27 PM

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