Treasury Board Portfolio
May 2010


Departmental legal services units (DLSUs) are responsible for providing client organizations with legal advice and assistance to facilitate their operations, and ensuring that DLSU policies, programs, and operations conform to the law. The DLSUs interact with other sectors of the Department of Justice with respect to litigation that their clients may be involved in, and to obtain advice on specialized matters, such as compliance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

A close relationship typically develops between DLSUs and their clients. DLSUs are generally located in the same building as the client’s senior management team. Most DLSU heads regularly attend their client’s departmental management committee meetings.

All DLSU lawyers are Department of Justice employees. Support staff are employees of the client department. The costs of the DLSU’s lawyers are covered by a rate structure formula approved by the TB that applies across government to all DLSUs.

All lawyers working in a DLSU are costed according to this rate structure, whether they are funded by the Department of Justice or funded by the client. This allows a total cost for all lawyers working in each DLSU to be calculated. The DLSU A-Base and any amount recovered from a department other than the client are then subtracted from that total cost, and the client department or agency is billed quarterly for the difference.

The TBP LSU differs from most other DLSUs. It conducts its own litigation regarding labour and employment law since it is the exclusive representative of the Government as employer, representing it before such boards and tribunals as the Public Service Labour Relations Board, the Public Service Staffing Tribunal, the Occupational Health and Safety Tribunal, the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Tribunal, the Federal Court, and the Federal Court of Appeal. The TBP LSU recovers costs for its litigation services from other government departments. It also provides advisory services to other legal service units on the Financial Administration Act.

The client is also billed for services provided via the LSU by lawyers in the Department of Justice’s headquarters units, such as the Constitutional and Administrative Law Section, and regional offices. In addition, the client furnishes office materials, supplies, and accommodation and directly funds the salaries of the support staff.