The Law Society believes that legal expense insurance is a useful insurance product, with the potential to make legal services more accessible and affordable for people who don't qualify for legal aid.
In July 2008, the "Report of the Legal Aid Review 2008," completed by Professor Michael Trebilcock, was publicly released by then-Attorney General, the Honourable Chris Bentley. Although the report focused specifically on legal aid in Ontario, it also made recommendations related to increasing access to legal services and information for all Ontarians.
According to Professor Trebilcock, "[l]egal information and advice for the working poor and middle class of Ontario represent a means of providing limited amounts of service to a very substantial number of people. In many cases, however, limited service simply will not suffice. One underexplored method of providing access to justice is legal insurance."
He concluded that "[t]he Law Society of Upper Canada and LAO [Legal Aid Ontario] should accord a high priority to promoting the role of legal insurance in Ontario."
As a result, the Access to Justice bencher Committee undertook a review of legal expense insurance and insurance providers beginning in 2008. The Committee reported to Convocation several times throughout 2009 (January and April) and early 2010 (January) regarding its review of legal expense insurance in Ontario and in Quebec, where this product is well-established and owned by more than 100,000 households.
The Law Society concluded that legal expense insurance, which affords consumer protection through regulation, is a viable product that can potentially increase access to legal information and services for many Ontario households.
The Law Society actively supports access to legal services through a number of programs and partnerships including our Law Society Referral Service and Pro Bono Law Ontario.