A criminal charge can be life altering, like a catastrophic accident or sudden serious illness. But much can be done to control the outcome. Mr. Clark understands the predicament that criminal justice thrusts accused persons and their families into; and the flexibility required to ensure a full defence within your means. In most cases the retainer can be based on a payment schedule by which fees are deposited over time as the case makes its way through the courts.
The stress of a criminal prosecution impacts family, career and social life. Payment plans are part of a structured response to the stress allowing both client and counsel to stay focussed on the greatest stress-reliever of all: winning the case.
Mr. Clark’s office is sensitive to clients’ particular financial situations and prepared to take extenuating circumstances into account. Mr. Clark has on many occasions worked for reduced rates where the client’s financial means and access to justice are real issues.
In serious cases where accused persons are really unable to pay for their own defence, Mr. Clark does consider taking cases through Legal Aid Ontario (“LAO”). A legal aid certificate does not simply entitle clients to a ‘free lawyer’. As the LAO documentation cautions, there are real limits on the time that a lawyer is allowed to spend on a case. That said, if Mr. Clark accepts your case through LAO you will be fully and fearlessly defended because there is no other way to handle a case.
LAO is staffed by good and dedicated people with the best of intentions, but the organization is on a fixed budget. And it is doubtful that any government ever won a single vote by promising to increase legal aid funding. So LAO is always under pressure as to how to distribute its limited funding. Inevitably, some people who need legal aid will not qualify for it. In some of those cases, an application for court-ordered funding may be possible.
Also inevitably, spending innovations by LAO from time to time may reduce the amount of compensation that lawyers receive for services provided and costs incurred in a particular type of case. Counsel should not accept LAO certificates if they cannot accept that, because the client’s legal interests must come first.
The ethical and professional rules, and the solemn duty of defence counsel are not negotiable; nor is Mr. Clark’s reputation as counsel who puts his client’s interests above all else.
All of the above notwithstanding, Mr. Clark acknowledges some truly great successes for clients throughout the years that were made possible only because the clients’ defences were funded through LAO.
For a free consultation please call 416.531.7321.