The Legal Aid Trade


  • Christopher Dudley Evans



Members of the Law Society of Alberta have undertaken to provide compre hensive legal aid service in order to enable Albertans of insufficient means to be represented by counsel in court. Mr. Evans feels the present legal aid system, while founded on strong theoretical basis, has not accomplished its objectives. The author points out that the system has experienced rising costs coupled with diminishing quality in the legal aid provided. Various abuses of the legal aid system are presented and Mr. Evans notes that the essential weakness of the system lies in its failure to provide defence counsel "approximating the ability of the Crown Prosecutor". To alleviate this inequity the author submits that Public Defenders Office should be established to operate on much the same basis as the Crown Prosecutors Office. This would consistently provide competent defence counsel who are acceptable to the court. Mr. Evans suggests, after review of the costs of the present system and of several Public Defender systems in the United States, that such counsel can be provided at less expense than the current legal aid system.