Back to Navigation
Home About LSO Initiatives Short-term pro bono legal services rules

Short-term pro bono legal services rules

Short-term pro bono rules amended to extend exemption from conflict of interest standard
Convocation amended the lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct to extend the modified conflict of interest standard in the Short-term Pro Bono Legal Services rules to Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) lawyers who provide short-term legal services, such as duty counsel and summary advice lawyers. The modified conflicts standard was also extended to lawyers who provide short-term legal services under the auspices of a clinical education course or program.
 
Lawyers in circumstances to which these rules apply may provide short-term legal services without undertaking a conflicts check. Short-term legal services are usually provided in circumstances in which it is difficult to systematically screen for conflicts of interest. This may result in delays or denial of services. In addressing this problem, the short-term legal services rules promote access to justice for vulnerable members of the public.
 
The Professional Regulation Committee recommended the amendments to Convocation after consulting with the professions and others on whether the rules should be amended to include LAO lawyers and whether they should also be expanded to include other not-for-profit service providers.

Prior to the amendments , the rules extended the modified conflicts standard only to volunteer lawyers who provide short-term pro bono services under the auspices of a pro bono or not-for-profit legal services provider and lawyers providing services under the auspices of a Pro Bono Ontario program.
 
The Paralegal Standing Committee considered whether the Paralegal Rules of Conduct should be amended to include a similar rule. The paralegal rules and guidelines were amended in February 2020. 

Reports