News Release Archive

Justice Minister Bill Gillis and Glen McDougall, chair of the
Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission today released the report of the
Legal Aid Review Team.

The review was struck to examine the structure and practices of
all aspects of legal aid to identify the most appropriate means
to deliver services in light of fiscal restraints. The mandate of
the review team was not to make cuts, but rather to recommend
opportunities to redesign delivery so that appropriate services
can be effectively provided.

The review team suggests that much of the targeted spending
reduction, about $1 million over the next two fiscal years, can
be accommodated without a cut in service. The review team
suggests this can be accomplished through reduced spending on
certificates (or referrals to the private bar). Savings can also
be achieved if the commission reduces administrative costs and

Another key recommendation put forward is one that will allow the
Legal Aid Commission to handle conflicts of interest internally,
rather than through referrals to the private bar. This could be
accomplished through the hiring of additional lawyers and the
establishment of new offices.

Other measures include the reduction of insurance premiums (which
has been agreed to by the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society). The
team recommends that NSLA cooperate with the barristers society,
the Department of Justice and the judiciary to rationalize
library holdings and participate in a cooperative collection
model. The review team also recommends that the budget provided
to Dalhousie Legal Aid from the NSLA receive a proportionate
funding cut.

The review team also recommends that government take a more
integrated approach to setting policy and priorities regarding
the administration of justice, and to ensure adequate funding
levels for the effective operation of the justice system.

The team also recommends that the NSLA should develop and
implement a clear policy on eligibility. The policy should
address the consistent application of the criteria, the use of
support staff to determine financial eligibility, the
consideration of family income in the case of young offenders,
and contributions to service in the case of divorce settlements
and judgement awards. It also recommends that the components of
the justice system meet regularly to further identify ways they
can cooperate and improve effectiveness and efficiency.

The team also suggested that the staff lawyer model, through
which legal aid is delivered, is a good one, and that clients
receive effective service from a dedicated and capable group of
people. The team also recommends that the independence of Nova
Scotia Legal Aid be recognized and strengthened, and that any
general direction given by the minister to NSLA should be in
writing, and made public.

"The review team has made it clear that they are very impressed
with the dedication of staff lawyers and support staff in the
service they deliver," said Dr. Gillis. "I believe the Commission
now has an opportunity to further improve service delivery, and 
I want to thank the review team for their efforts in preparing
this report."

Glen McDougall, the commission chair said: "The review team has
put forward a number of recommendations that offer challenges for
the commission in the months ahead. I believe we can meet these
challenges and continue to offer Nova Scotians the quality of
service we have enjoyed in the past."

The review team also makes recommendations to the commission and
to the management of the commission on those measures that should
be adopted immediately, and those that may require further

Members of the review team included Gordon Murray and Mark
McCrea, representing the Legal Aid Commission; Clarence Guest and
Doug Keefe who represented the Department of Justice; and Ramsay
Duff, from Priorities and Planning; Don Murray, who served as
chair, and Darrell Pink, representing the Nova Scotia Barristers'
Society. Judge Moria Legere and Judge Michael Sherar participated
in discussions to ensure consideration of the judicial


NOTE TO EDITORS: Copies of the report are available at 5151
Terminal Road, 4th floor, or by contacting Michele McKinnon at

Contact: Michele McKinnon  902-424-6811

         Glen McDougall    902-539-2425

trp                      May 06, 1996 - 2:50 p.m.