Justice Policy Development Branch

Office Snapshot

  • Location: Toronto
  • Lawyers: 12
  • Articling Students: 1
  • Summer Law Students: 1
  • Types of Law: Administrative, Civil, Family

Who we are

The Justice Policy Development Branch is the Ministry of the Attorney General's (MAG's) centre for strategic legal policy advice and support. We develop legal policy to respond to the issues of the day, in diverse areas such as civil, family, human rights, administrative and commercial law, as well as civilian oversight of policing. Policy development involves gathering information, developing ideas to transform them into advice, and developing a course of action consistent with the government's priorities.

We also play an integral role in managing, advising and assisting on the legislative process and the legislative agenda of the Attorney General.

We work closely with the Attorney General's office, Deputy Attorney General's office, other divisions within MAG, as well as Cabinet Office, other Ontario ministries, and other governments.

What we do

Counsel in the Justice Policy Development Branch:

  • Provide legal and policy advice to the Attorney General
  • Identify legal policy issues, options and risks
  • Engage in legal policy research and analysis
  • Develop, draft and coordinate Cabinet submissions
  • Review Cabinet submissions from other ministries
  • Provide policy support and advice to other parts of MAG and other ministries involved in policy development
  • Liaise and consult with the judiciary, the bar, community groups, other parts of government and a wide variety of other stakeholders
  • Liaise with Cabinet Office on the government's justice agenda, policy matters and legislative developments of interest to MAG
  • Interpret legislation and regulations
  • Instruct Legislative Counsel on the drafting of legislation and regulations
  • Advise and assist on the legislative process and agenda of the Attorney General
  • Manage MAG's statutory responsibility for professions
  • Participate in the work of the Uniform Law Conference of Canada
  • Develop family and civil rules of procedure, including membership on the civil and family rules committees

Our major cases

We are involved in the development of key legislation that can have far-reaching impacts on the people of Ontario. Our work on the development of legislation involves developing a Cabinet submission, which means gathering information and identifying issues, options and risks, to form a recommendation about taking a course of action that is consistent with the government’s priorities. We then take the policy decisions made by government and work with legal drafters to make sure that the policy is accurately captured in a bill. Finally, we assist in the legislative process as a bill becomes law. As seen from the examples of work listed, the topics are wide-ranging:

  • Apology Act, 2009: promotes apologies by preventing their use to establish fault or liability of the person who apologizes
  • Human Rights Code Amendment Act, 2006 and implementation of changes to the human rights system
  • Regulation of paralegals through amendments to the Law Society Act and changes to the Limitations Act in the Access to Justice Act, 2006
  • Good Government Act, 2006: technical amendments made to hundreds of statutes to make sure the province’s laws are up-to-date
  • Family Statute Law Amendment Act, 2006: primarily addresses family law arbitrations by making sure they are conducted in accordance with Canadian law
  • Independent Police Review Act, 2006 and implementation of a new system of civilian oversight for police in Ontario
  • Public Safety Related to Dogs Statute Law Amendment Act, 2005: banned pit bulls in Ontario and included other measures aimed at dangerous dogs.

What students do

Students in the Justice Policy Development Branch work closely with senior staff and establish connections with key people in the ministry. Students are actively involved in all areas of work including:

  • Legal research and analysis, including caselaw and statute research, and comparative analysis of law from different jurisdictions
  • Developing presentations on policy options, including background research on policy development files
  • Preparing briefing materials, case summaries, legal memos, and correspondence for senior managers and the Attorney General
  • Analysis of legal issues presented in correspondence, public and private bills, and consultation processes
  • Preparing supporting materials for bills, including committee binders, compendia and communications materials
  • Assisting in preparing Cabinet submissions and/or assisting in the instruction of Legislative Counsel on the drafting of legislation and regulations (depending on the legislative agenda at the time of articling)
  • Participating in briefings of senior staff, Minister's office and Cabinet office
  • Attending interministerial meetings, stakeholder meetings and public events.

Students have opportunities to participate in MAG-wide and cross-ministry committees on legislative and policy initiatives. Students are also included in all MAG-wide educational programs.

Why choose us

Students chosen to work in the Justice Policy Development Branch have a unique opportunity to be involved in shaping public policy and the law. Students work in a collegial environment on priority issues for the current government and influence decision-making on a variety of topics.

Students are also able to examine topical legal issues from a different point of view, resulting in a broader perspective and a deeper understanding of the issues.

Students who work with us have the knowledge and skills to embark on a challenging career in legal policy development.

Join us and become part of a group of students who have:

  • Been rehired within Justice Policy Development Branch and/or the Ontario government
  • Gone on to clerk with different levels of court
  • Gone on to work for Non Government Organizations
  • Gone on to work for the federal government
  • Pursued academic careers.

The Justice Policy Development Branch has an impressive and distinguished group of alumni, including:

  • Justice Joseph W. Bovard
  • Justice Archie Campbell
  • Justice John Cavarzan
  • Michael Cochrane, TV commentator
  • Julia E. Hanigsberg, General Counsel and Secretary of the Board of Governors,
  • Ryerson University
  • Justice Thea P. Herman
  • Patricia Hughes, Executive Director, Law Commission of Ontario
  • Professor Shin Imai, Osgoode Hall Law School
  • Justice Craig Perkins
  • Justice Marc Rosenberg
  • Justice Karen M. Weiler

Contact us

Ms. Sunny Kwon

Mr. Earl Dumitru

Ms. Miranda Gass-Donnelly