Lawyers bill Legal Aid Alberta (LAA) for the work they have done on your case based on the fees, rates, and guidelines described in a document called the Legal Aid Alberta Tariff.
The lawyer’s bill to LAA shows all the time they spent working on your file. This includes meetings, court appearances, telephone calls, emails, preparing documents and research, etc. Lawyers will also bill LAA for expenses such as courier fees, postage, photocopying and use of experts (example: doctors, psychologists, etc.). You can ask LAA for copies of the bills your lawyer submits to us for payment.
A common misconception about legal aid is that it is a free service. Legal aid in the province of Alberta is not free. LAA expects clients to repay the costs of their legal representation. Any services requiring full representation by a lawyer are not free. However, it is important to know that legal services provided by a lawyer through LAA are significantly less costly than hiring that same lawyer privately. As soon as you have applied for coverage with LAA, your personal client account is automatically set up. Payment arrangements can be made that will accommodate your financial situation.
Note: You may be asked to start making small payments right away or provide us with a bail assignment or security agreement against property that you own (such as a car or a house), even before a lawyer is assigned to your case.
Client payments are in the form of scheduled monthly payments. LAA currently operates on a 60-day billing cycle. This means that you should expect to receive your statement every other month. (This statement comes from LAA, not your lawyer.) Your statement will include the amount that is due that month, along with the balance remaining on your account. The following options are available to pay your bill:
- Pre-authorized withdrawals; payments come out of your bank account each month (you have the option of selecting the date and amount of the payments).
- Online/telephone banking
- Cash, cheque or money order paid in person, at any LAA office.
- Interac/debit, which can be made at Calgary and Edmonton offices only.
- Mailing a cheque or money order to any LAA office.
When making a payment, please be sure to include:
1. Your LAA account number
2. Your full name (first, middle and last)
If your lawyer is able to get a money settlement in your case (example: funds are divided from the sale of a home in a divorce case, seized monies, court costs, etc.), he/she cannot automatically release that money to you without LAA’s permission, as we may ask that some of the money be held back to pay your LAA bill.