iacobucci-frank-cp-5985236

Retired Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci negotiated a settlement between the government and former students at Indian residential schools. ((Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press))

The lawyer who negotiated a settlement for aboriginal residential school students was paid more than $2.5 million for the work, according to documents obtained by CBC News.

Frank Iacobucci, a retired Supreme Court justice,was appointed in June 2005to negotiate with the government, the Assembly of First Nations and the various churches involved to reach possible settlement packages.

According to documents obtained through access to information requests, Iacobucci was paid up to $200,000 per month, plus expenses, for his work. The money was for his expertise and the assistance of two junior lawyers in his office.

The rate is more than the "standard" range Ottawa pays, according to the documents. Alawyer with more than 20 years experience is normally paid between $150 and $200 an hour.

Calls to Iacobucci's Toronto law firm were not returned.

'Significant amounts'

Regina lawyer Tony Merchant, who represents many former students, called the amount surprising.

"But certainly nobody knew about this — or nobody within the First Nations community knew about this. These are just significant amounts."

Merchant'slaw firm has been promisedbetween $25 million and $40 million under the terms of the settlement for its work. Merchant said his firm spent10 years on casesand had more than 100 lawyers working on them.

Deal reached in May

An estimated 100,000 aboriginal children lived in the once-mandatory system of residential schools from 1930 to 1996. Many were forced to leave their families and attend the schools, and many suffered physical and sexual abuse while there.

For more than a decade, former students of Indian residential schools were pursuing lawsuits against Ottawa and churches for damages relating to their experiences. However, litigation was slow and only a few cases were settled.

The former federalLiberal government appointed Iacobucci in 2005 to helpreach a compensation package. Part of his job was also to study the creation of a national truth-and-reconciliation forum to give survivors a chance to tell their stories.

A deal announced in Mayoffers any former student a lump sum of $10,000 each, plus $3,000 for each year spent in the schools.Statistics Canadaestimates there are 80,000 people alive today who attended residential schools.