Legal Aid Alberta adjusting operations in response to escalating job action by criminal defence lawyers

We are focused on continuing to serve clients and to minimize service disruptions.

Communications and Public Relations
September 01, 2022
  • Legal Aid Alberta does not control the rate of pay for roster lawyers. This is solely in the control of the Ministry.
  • We are adjusting operations accordingly to prioritize those who are in the most disadvantaged situations. 
  • At this time, Albertans can access legal aid as they always have. We will keep the public informed if this changes.

EDMONTON – Legal Aid Alberta is aware that as of September 1, criminal defence lawyers who have withdrawn their services are intending to decline new full representation certificates for serious offences and appeal certificates, in addition to stopping work as duty counsel. 

We have said time and again that roster lawyers are integral to LAA. They are our closest partners. LAA does not control the rate of pay. This is solely in the control of the Ministry. We are doing everything within our control to modernize administrative processes for roster lawyers in recognition of the services they provide. Criminal defence lawyers who are participating in job action are not employees of LAA and do not represent all private sector roster lawyers who do legal aid work.

We know this is a concerning time for Albertans in the justice system who are already facing extremely difficult life circumstances. LAA is continuing to take all reasonable steps to minimize service disruptions and ensure Albertans who need legal aid are supported. We are adjusting operations accordingly to prioritize those who are in the most disadvantaged situations. 

How LAA is responding for Albertans

Driving four and a half hours to assist with a court case. Taking on two shifts in mental health court in one week. Working tirelessly to schedule duty counsel lawyers in courtrooms throughout Alberta.  

These are just some of the ways our Legal Aid Alberta community is stepping up to ensure people can access legal aid during job action by some criminal defence lawyers, which began on August 8. 

While the job action has brought its share of challenges, one thing has remained true: when Legal Aid Alberta meets a challenge, we do whatever it takes to meet the legal needs of our clients.

Soon LAA will be providing virtual duty counsel appearances in all Alberta courthouses to ensure as many docket courtrooms as possible can be covered by duty counsel. 

Our lawyers are taking on extra files, added court appearances and last-minute road trips to rural courts. Roster lawyers who are not involved in job action are stepping up and taking on more work. 

The Contact Centre continues to field more than 4,000 calls per week from Albertans in need of legal aid, taking on the important job of being the first point of contact for scared and confused individuals.  

Behind the scenes, employees are working hard to find lawyers for disadvantaged Albertans, coming up with solutions at a moment’s notice. 

Our teams are doing whatever it takes to keep the legal aid system functioning, and they are doing it with integrity and professionalism. 

At this time, Albertans can continue accessing legal aid as they always have. We are committed to keeping the public informed if the situation changes.

Right now, more than 35,000 Albertans are receiving legal aid assistance. We are focused on continuing to serve clients and to minimize service disruptions as best we can. 

We’re here for you. 

New applicants and clients

Roster lawyers
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Partners and media
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Legal Aid Alberta Fast Facts 

  • 35,000 clients
  • 61,000 active files
  • 1,200 roster lawyers
  • 300 staff
  • 75 communities served
  • 50 years helping Albertans


  • Roster lawyers who do legal aid are not employees of LAA but are contracted by LAA to provide legal advice and representation services. Roster lawyers come from the private bar, which means they have their own practice and/or work for a private law firm. Learn more.  
  • Staff lawyers work as employees at Legal Aid Alberta. They bring special knowledge and skills to serve people facing significant legal and life challenges. Staff lawyers practice criminal, family and immigration law and provide duty counsel services in docket and therapeutic courts across the province. 
  • Duty counsel are staff and roster lawyers who help people understand the court process and who give free legal advice to people representing themselves at their first court appearance. Duty counsel is found at the courthouse and most often speak to clients before their court appearance. They do not become involved in trials. Learn more. 
  • Tariff of fees (tariff): The Legal Aid Alberta Tariff of Fees dictates how lawyers accounts should be paid/how much they may bill their clients. Learn more. 

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