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4 hours ago, FunnyLawName said:

All the lawyers I'm working with right now (all criminal) are actively talking about Ford's possible impact on legal aid funding. How realistic is that fear right now?

In general, it won't be a fun four years. But I don't expect they'll take a sledgehammer to it either. Despite the rhetoric, there are a lot of institutional brakes to prevent drastic and ill-considered changes to existing institutions. Conservatives are right in an least one regard - it's much harder to stop paying for things than it is to start. In this case, that works in our favor. I don't expect new money for a while. But I also don't expect cuts. 

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40 minutes ago, Diplock said:

In general, it won't be a fun four years. But I don't expect they'll take a sledgehammer to it either. Despite the rhetoric, there are a lot of institutional brakes to prevent drastic and ill-considered changes to existing institutions. Conservatives are right in an least one regard - it's much harder to stop paying for things than it is to start. In this case, that works in our favor. I don't expect new money for a while. But I also don't expect cuts. 

I am not in ON, but Legal Aid funding is also a serious issue in my province (where isn't it?) and not cutting, not increasing is essentially the same as a cut. Legal Aid funding has been static here for a while as the cost of running an office goes up (rents, competitive salary for assistants and students, office supplies etc. ) Over time, you work more and make less. Legal Aid management has those same increases to their overhead which then forces them to trim their budget to make ends meet. Police, sheriffs, court staff, Crowns, judges etc all get raises to keep up with inflation. Lawyers in private practice doing defence mostly on Legal Aid do not. So it LOOKS as if they haven't cut anything, but essentially, they have.

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2 hours ago, lioness said:

I am not in ON, but Legal Aid funding is also a serious issue in my province (where isn't it?) and not cutting, not increasing is essentially the same as a cut. Legal Aid funding has been static here for a while as the cost of running an office goes up (rents, competitive salary for assistants and students, office supplies etc. ) Over time, you work more and make less. Legal Aid management has those same increases to their overhead which then forces them to trim their budget to make ends meet. Police, sheriffs, court staff, Crowns, judges etc all get raises to keep up with inflation. Lawyers in private practice doing defence mostly on Legal Aid do not. So it LOOKS as if they haven't cut anything, but essentially, they have.

My salary has been frozen going on three years, thank you very much. <_<

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On 6/7/2018 at 10:35 AM, currywiththeshot said:

Hello all,

I know that empanelment with LAO simply gives you access to potential clients, with no guarantee of files. As a soon-to-be graduate who's interested in working family and criminal legal aid files as a solo, how realistic would it be to make a living by simply getting empanelled and sitting back? Would I also have to hunt for clients in court and heavily market myself, or can I expect a steady inflow of work? I guess an important factor is also where I intend on becoming empanelled; is rural Ontario more significantly starved for lawyers willing to take on legal aid files, than say, the GTA? 

Thanks in advance. 

I wanted to go back to the original post, since I missed it at first.

I was once a pretty fresh graduate (albeit with a firm) in a small Alberta town.  I got some files from my firm, but I did actually get a decent number of files just straight from legal aid with no hustling from me.  I did also get people cold-calling me looking for a lawyer.  So it can happen, at least in rural Alberta when the oil patch was booming.

But there's a real downside to this too.  If you're not out there hustling for work, then you get no say on the kind of work you're doing.  So you're getting the legal clients who have already burned through three different lawyers.  You're getting the clients who can pay, but barely, and you have to chase down for retainers.

No matter what - you want to be hunting for clients.

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That’s exactly it. In private practice, you need to have multiple sources of work because any one is not enough and/or can dry up. So besides referrals from legal aid, you want to cultivate your network with criminal lawyers for their referrals when they are busy/unavailable/in a conflict, non-criminal lawyers for their referrals when people call them about criminal matters, your own clients so that they will return and refer friends and family to you, community organizations so they will refer to you, etc. You ideally want cash files as well as Legal Aid ones. A big part of success in private practice is maintaining a steady flow of work, and you don’t want to completely rely on an outside source for that.

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I know someone mentioned there being books on how to start a sole practice - can anyone give me some recommendations? I'm not necessarily sold on going into sole practice but mainly because I have no idea where I'd start on the business side of things, so I think some books on the matter would be extremely useful.

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