Ontario Regional Office
Regulatory Law Section
7.1 Interfaces with Regional Offices, the Business and Regulatory Law Portfolio (BRLP), and the Law Practice Management Directorate (LPMD)
RLS managers maintain effective interfaces with regional offices, the BRLP, and the LPMD.
It is important for managers to maintain strong interfaces with other organizational units in the Department. By doing so, managers are better positioned to be informed of recent changes in policy and procedures, and latest trends in the practice of law such as precedents set as a result of recent court proceedings. In addition, maintaining sound interfaces helps legal practitioners ensure they have explored all avenues for securing the best legal expertise possible, sharing best practices, and fostering consistency in the delivery of legal services.
The RLS is very proactive in terms of maintaining strong ties with key Justice Canada organizations such as other ORO organizations, other regional offices, the BRLP, and the LPMD. RLS legal counsel communicate daily with these organizations (e.g. by telephone, conference call, email) and participate actively in regional and national committees.
The above-noted interaction is supplemented through ongoing participation by RLS counsel in regional and national committees. We found that the RLS’s participation in these committees is effective in ensuring that RLS professional staff maintain sound interfaces with these key Justice organizations.
The RLS Director, Deputy Director, and several legal counsel informed the audit team that maintaining interfaces with key Justice Canada constituents is a vital part of their work. In general, they stated that they are satisfied with the very cooperative and collaborative relationships they had fostered. Our meetings with BRLP and LPMD managers confirmed that RLS’s interactions with them were consistently strong.
It is our view that RLS managers maintain effective interfaces with regional offices, the BRLP, and the LPMD.
RLS managers maintain effective interfaces with the DLSUs in client departments/agencies.
The RLS has a client base of 21 departments and agencies. The RLS has minimal direct interfacing with client departments/agencies located in the Metro Toronto area. The only notable exception is that the RLS does service the RCMP in London, Ontario pursuant to the provisions of a Service Agreement. Consequently, virtually all of the RLS’s interfacing is conducted through client department DLSUs in the National Capital Region and not directly with client department managers.
The audit team interviewed the heads of the DLSUs for Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Health Canada, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which represent three major client departments/agencies of the RLS.
All three heads of these DLSUs confirmed unequivocally that the quality and level of service provided by the RLS were sound. To substantiate their views the DLSU heads provided the auditors with examples of cases that are currently being managed on a collaborative basis with RLS counsel. As a result of our discussions and documentation review, it is clear that day-to-day interaction between legal counsel in the DLSUs and the RLS is effective.
During our interview with the RLS Director, he advised the audit team that interfacing between the RLS and its client departments DLSUs is very much a responsibility that all RLS legal counsel share. He further stated that multiple approaches are maintained to ensure ongoing effective interfaces with the DLSUs. Informal means of interaction used include telephone calls, conference calls, email, and facsimiles. More formal interfacing takes place when the RLS Director attends such fora as national committee meetings, which DLSU management also attend.
It is our view that RLS managers maintain effective interfaces with the DLSUs of their key client departments/agencies.
The RLS is taking reasonable measures to ensure that client departments are satisfied with the legal services provided.
We reviewed the measures undertaken by the RLS to ensure that client departments are satisfied with the legal services provided. Our review consisted of interviews with RLS management and the three aforementioned DLSU heads.
The RLS Director, Deputy Director, and several legal counsel advised that they maintained collaborative working relationships with their counterparts in the client departments and agencies. An integral part of this relationship is ongoing information sharing between the two parties vis-à-vis the specific needs and requirements of the client department managers. This ongoing communication includes feedback on the RLS’s performance in relation to client expectations.
Our interviews with the DLSU heads focused on obtaining feedback regarding the quality of services provided by the RLS. We discussed the means and frequency of interaction, what works well and what requires improvement, and the overall level of satisfaction.
Our interviews revealed that ongoing communication regarding client department needs, service expectations, and results takes place at the legal counsel level. The majority of interactions are related to specific cases. Strong collaborative working relationships have been established in order to provide the client department with the best level of service possible. All three DLSU heads related that communications with the RLS are effective and the level of service received is consistently of high quality, timely, and focused on meeting client needs.
It is our view that the RLS, through ongoing interfaces with DLSUs, is taking reasonable measure to ensure client department needs are being met and satisfaction with services is provided.
Formal client surveys conducted by the Business and Regulatory Law Portfolio revealed a high level of client department satisfaction with services provided.
Formal client satisfaction surveys are important tools for obtaining feedback on client satisfaction and provide information for effecting improvement.
The RLS does not conduct formal client surveys. However, surveys are conducted at the Portfolio level in headquarters. We reviewed two client satisfaction surveys that had been commissioned by the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Business and Regulatory Law Portfolio in 2002 and 2008. Both surveys were conducted by parties independent of the BRLP. Our review of these completed surveys concluded that both surveys were reasonably comprehensive and covered key service criteria such as responsiveness, usefulness, and timeliness. The results of both surveys were very favourable regarding the level of service provided by the BRLP including those related to regulatory law.
It is our view that the formal client satisfaction tools we examined are important tools for assessing the level of client department satisfaction. BRLP management should continue to use formal client surveys to assess client department satisfaction.
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