Fact sheets

Need a lawyer but can’t afford it?

Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) provides legal services for financially-eligible, low-income Ontarians in the following areas: domestic violence, family law, immigration and refugee law and criminal law.

Representation by a lawyer

If you’re financially eligible and have a legal matter that LAO covers, you may be able to apply for a certificate, which is like a voucher that you can use to “pay” a lawyer to represent you for a certain number of hours.

The lawyer must be one of the 3,600 private practice lawyers across the province who accepts legal aid certificates.

How do you qualify?

You will need to take a financial test to see if your gross income from all sources is within LAO’s eligibility guidelines.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, you may be eligible for a legal aid certificate under a separate set of financial eligibility guidelines.

If you have an income or own property, you may qualify for a certificate with a contribution agreement, where you will be required to repay LAO for some or all of your legal fees.

What legal matters are covered?

  • You are charged with a crime. You might go to jail.

  • You need legal help for a family matter. You want to legally separate from your partner. You might lose custody of your kids. You need more financial support from your ex-partner.

  • You are a refugee or immigrant. You are applying to stay in the country, or might get kicked out of the country.

Services for vulnerable groups

  • You are experiencing domestic violence. Domestic violence may include physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse.

  • You identify as First Nation, Métis or Inuit.

  • You are dealing with mental health or addiction issues.

Contact us

Toll-free: 1-800-668-8258

TTY service for the hearing impaired: 1-866-641-8867

Service is available Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Visit legalaid.on.ca/eligibility for more information about whether you’re eligible for a legal aid certificate.

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For more information on this topic contact media@lao.on.ca