Legal Aid Alberta Glossary for Roster Lawyers


Administrative Policies

A series of policies established as tools to translate the high-level expectations found in our Governance Agreement, Rules, and Tariff into specific practices. Policies cover:

  • service eligibility
  • financial eligibility
  • fees and payment
  • eligibility decision review and appeal
  • case management for certificate-based matters
  • roster management
  • case management for high-cost cases

Appeals Committee

A committee comprised of Legal Aid Alberta board members, independent lawyers and community members who are not employees of Legal Aid Alberta. This committee is the final level of appeal for refusals and terminations of coverage.


Legal Aid Alberta reviews invoices and certificates on a random basis, and audits may occur at the time of processing or after payment. Audits may also be conducted in response to a client complaint or an unusual charge or disbursement. These compliance reviews are an important part of ensuring that we are good stewards of public funds and that we are protecting the interests of our clients.

Authorization Request

The process used to request additional hours or tariff items beyond the scope of a certificate as issued. These requests must be submitted in advance of undertaking the corresponding work. Guidelines on requesting extra tariff items and special disbursements can be found in Lawyer Portal and on the Support and Resources page for roster lawyers.



The document issued by Legal Aid Alberta to a lawyer, authorizing them to act on behalf of a client.
See also introduction to certificates and certificate definitions.

Certificate and Tariff Officer (CTO)

Front line worker for Legal Aid Alberta responsible for assisting lawyers with certificates and invoicing.

Certificate inclusions

All approved extensions, amendments, extra tariff items and special disbursements.

Change of Counsel

A change of counsel on a certificate can be requested by either the client or the lawyer for a number of reasons including breakdown of client-solicitor relationship and conflict issues. Legal Aid Alberta streamlined internal processes to reduce delays in processing the change of counsel request, if approved. Legal Aid Alberta strives to maintain mutual respect between our roster lawyers and clients and will work with both the lawyer and the client where possible to resolve the issue.

Choice of Counsel

An initiative that allows clients to indicate their choice of counsel within a court district, with Alberta or across Canada (depending on the seriousness of their charges). This allows clients in rural areas, for example, to have access to the same breadth of experience as those in larger centres.

Criminal Trial Group

A unit of staff lawyers whose expertise is focused on particularly vulnerable clients. These clients come to us with challenges and barriers that require specialized skills to ensure they receive the best possible access to justice.


Duty Counsel Crown Disclosure

A joint effort by Legal Aid Alberta and the Crown to ensure that Duty Counsel lawyers now have full access to Crown disclosure much earlier than before. This helps us represent our clients more effectively and, when appropriate, to refer them to services that best match their needs.

Duty Counsel Day

A national day of recognition to raise awareness about duty counsel lawyers whose work ensures that everyone is equal before the law, not just those who can afford a lawyer.


Early Appearance Assistance

Adults charged with a criminal offence can call Legal Aid Alberta to speak with Duty Counsel for legal advice and assistance up to 14 days before their first court appearance. This early access to legal advice streamlines initial appearances and prevents unproductive churning in the court system.


Family law assessment

A Legal Aid Alberta team that reviews all family matters for merit and determines the appropriate number of hours to issue for each family certificate. The team can provide brief legal advice to help clients know what to expect. They are also empowered to provide referrals to Business Resolution Services (formerly RCAS) when that is the best service for a client’s needs.

Filing fees

Fees charged by the Court for the electronic filing of documents. Pursuant to the Alberta Rules of Court – Rule 13.36, clients who are covered under a Legal Aid Alberta certificate are eligible to have these fees waived only if a copy of the certificate is provided each time documents are sent for filing. Neither the Clerks’ office nor LAA will provide refunds or reimbursements for filing or e-filing fees that would have been waived if a copy of the certificate had been provided.

Final account submissions

The final bill that marks the conclusion of matters covered by a certificate. Final accounts must be submitted to Legal Aid Alberta no later than six months following the last step taken to complete a certificate and must include the outcome of the case, the date upon which certificate services were completed, and any other materials required by Legal Aid Alberta.

Financial Eligibility Guidelines

The set of rules used to determine client eligibility based on the ratio of their net income to their family size, with other assets taken into consideration. If a client’s net income is too high compared to their family size, legal aid coverage may be refused. The Financial Eligibility Guidelines are contained in Part IV of the Legal Aid Alberta Rules.


Governance Agreement

An agreement between the Minister of Justice, the Legal Aid Society of Alberta, and the Law Society of Alberta to provide essential and high quality legal services for disadvantaged and low-income Albertans, and other persons specified in the Agreement, to ensure meaningful access to legal rights and the protection of the law.


Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

An automated business phone system used in the LAA Contact Centre that interacts with callers and gathers information by giving them choices on a menu.

Interim invoicing

A requirement by Legal Aid Alberta that roster lawyers submit an invoice on a file every year rather than wait until a matter is resolved, which can sometimes take years. This process helps LAA budget and offers clients more transparency on what they owe.


JP Bail

A Legal Aid Alberta team of bail hearing lawyers that provide a number of services, including:

  • Duty Counsel services to clients in custody via phone, CCTV or in person;
  • Preliminary legal advice and information;
  • Represents clients at Justice of the Peace hearings, including conducting contested and consent release hearings and possible resolution and/or resolution planning;
  • Refers clients to community resources or other recommended programs; and
  • Attends the Alberta Court of Justice as required to perform the duties of a Criminal Duty Counsel.


Lawyer Portal

A secure online tool that serves as a central point of communication on certificate matters between lawyers and Legal Aid Alberta. Certificate offers, invoicing, account management and other transactions can be performed in Lawyer Portal. User guides and videos are also available after logging into the portal.

Lawyer panels

Designated groups of roster lawyers who have significant experience, aptitude and interest in specific areas of law and in working with the relevant clientele. Lawyer panels improve quality of representation by ensuring lawyers who take certain files have specialized training and experience. Membership is by application only; for more information on the panels and to see whether a specific panel is currently accepting applications, please visit the Lawyer Panels page on our website.


Out of Custody Triage

The opportunity for clients who have been charged but not remanded to speak with a Duty Counsel lawyer in advance of their first appearance. Our lawyers can request disclosure from the Crown, help the client resolve their legal matter out of court where appropriate, or refer clients to services including full representation.


Roster Agreement

A contract that helps eliminate any uncertainties about your legal relationship with Legal Aid Alberta. Roster lawyers are required to sign the Roster Agreement in order to be eligible to take legal aid cases.



Shiftboard is an online scheduling tool used by LAA to schedule duty counsel lawyers in courtrooms across Alberta. Staff and roster duty counsel lawyers can easily log into Shiftboard on desktop or mobile to check their schedules in real time.



A document that describes the fees, rates, and guidelines a lawyer must follow when billing for legal aid work. The current tariff (rate schedule) can be found in the Policies section of our website.


Time records must be kept for all steps that are billable on an hourly basis and must reflect the actual time spent by Counsel. Lawyers are required to upload detailed timesheets into Lawyer Portal.

Transfer of certificate

A process by which a roster lawyer who is unable to continue with a certificate can transfer it to another lawyer within the same firm and primary court location. The consent of the client is required, and no invoicing can have been submitted. If any of these points are not met, the Change of Counsel process must be followed instead.

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