Getting help from Legal Aid Ontario
If you are a low-income person, Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) may be able to provide you with legal assistance. Usually this means that you have little or no money left after paying for basic things like food and housing.
How to get started
Speak to a lawyer, for free, on our toll-free telephone line—When you call our toll-free line, you will learn whether you are eligible to speak to a lawyer. This lawyer can help you prepare for your court appearance, help you complete forms and tell you about your legal options.
Contact information so you know who to call for help if you want to talk to someone about domestic violence, government assistance, finding a lawyer, employment, labour or human rights issues, personal bankruptcy, real estate or a legal matter.
Legal Aid Ontario issues certificates to people eligible for them. These certificates are like vouchers for legal services. You can take a legal aid certificate to a lawyer who takes legal aid certificates and use it to “pay” for that lawyer’s services for a certain number of hours. The lawyer will use that time to represent you in court or help you deal with other legal matters.
Information and referrals to other service providers.
Help if your legal matter happened outside Ontario. We have strong working relationships with legal aid plans in other provinces, and may be able to help you even if your legal matter takes place in another Canadian province or territory.
Areas of law where we provide help
Criminal legal matters - You have been arrested, have done something illegal or are in trouble with the law.
Family - You need help for legal issues such as separation, support, access or custody of children; or you would like to try and solve these or other family issues together, outside of court, through mediation.
Refugee/immigration – You are entering or remaining in Canada as an immigrant or refugee
You may also qualify for help if you are…
Domestic violence may include physical and sexual abuse. It can also include financial and emotional abuse. Some examples of domestic violence:
- hitting, pushing, shoving, slapping or punching
- forced sex
- control over all the family money
- repeated phone calls
- unwanted visits to your home
- threats to harm you, your children, other family members or pets
Anyone in Ontario who is experiencing domestic violence can call Legal Aid Ontario at 1-800-668-8258 for a free two-hour consultation with a private lawyer. This service, along with free advice on immigration and refugee matters, is also offered through many shelters and community legal clinics.
Dealing with mental health or addiction issues
- You may qualify for a certificate if you are financially eligible and need a lawyer to represent you.
- If you are not in a facility, and have to appear in mental health court on a criminal matter, go to the legal aid lawyer in the courtroom for free help. Learn more.
- If you need legal help with a mental health hearing or appeal, speak with the patient advocate or rights advisor in the facility where you are admitted or receiving treatment to find out about your rights or get help choosing a lawyer. Learn more.
First Nation, Métis or Inuit
When you identify yourself as a First Nation, Métis or Inuit person, your lawyer can provide you with help in those areas of law that deal with Aboriginal circumstances or rights. Learn more.
Find out more about why it is important to tell your lawyer you are Aboriginal.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees equal rights to people who speak both of Canada’s official languages—English and French. Learn about LAO policies on French Language Services, related services for Francophones, and how to find a French-speaking lawyer.
LAO funds 76 community and specialty legal clinics throughout the province. Each clinic provides information, legal advice and representation, but their services and the areas of law they specialize in vary by location. Some of the services they provide include:
- help in tenant/landlord housing issues
- help with civil appeals, tribunals and proceedings
- government assistance (such as issues with Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program)
Contact a clinic near you to find out more.