What are duty counsel?

Duty counsel are lawyers provided by Legal Aid Ontario who can assist you on the day that you are in court.

If you do not have a lawyer and you are in court, duty counsel may be able to help you by:

  • Giving you advice about your legal rights, obligations and the court process;
  • Helping you in the courtroom with asking for an adjournment, conducting a bail hearing; assisting with a guilty plea; or making submissions at a sentencing hearing;
  • Holding a resolution meeting (Crown pre‑trial) with the Crown;
  • In some courthouses, assisting you with an unrepresented judicial pre‑trial;
  • Referring you to another form of legal aid assistance, such as LAO’s toll‑free telephone service or a legal aid worker in the courthouse

Duty counsel may have to ask you some questions about your financial situation to see if you qualify for certain services. You may not qualify for all duty counsel services.

Duty Counsel will not have ongoing responsibility for your case. If you come back to court more than once, you may speak to a different duty counsel each time.