Getting legal help
Community legal clinics
Legal Aid Ontario is the primary funder of 74 community legal clinics, which can help with legal matters affecting low income individuals.
Available services vary according to each clinic's resources. Some of the legal matters that clinics cover include:
- social assistance (Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program)
- Housing (issues between tenants and landlords or co-ops and their members; all social housing matters; condo unit rentals; etc);
- Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, Guaranteed Income Supplement;
- Criminal injuries compensation;
- Human rights
- Workplace safety
- Immigration and refugee
- Consumer matters
- Small claims / Debtor-creditor
- Worker's rights (Employment Standards Act, occupational health and safety)
- Elder law
Some clinics provide help in other areas of law, depending on local needs.
There are also speciality legal clinics that focus on marginalized groups or particular areas of law that affect large numbers of low-income people. They represent the elderly, people with disabilities, urban First Nation, Métis and Inuit, and persons with HIV/AIDS, and other groups.
To find a local legal clinic, visit legalaid.on.ca/clinics
About legal clinics
Community legal clinics are non-profit legal centres. They are governed by an independent board of directors who are representative of the community they serve. Clinics employ lawyers, legal workers, paralegals and administrative staff to provide information, legal advice and representation.
Clinics deliver services within a specific geographic area or community, and work at a "grass‑roots" level to help people in their area. Community legal clinics receive most of their funding from Legal Aid Ontario, and provide services that are different from, but complementary to Legal Aid Ontario services.
There are 74 legal clinics across the province, including specialty clinics. Many clinics operate "satellite" clinics in the towns near their main location. These satellite clinics are usually open once a week or month. Contact a community legal clinic near you for more information.
Unlike Legal Aid Ontario, community legal clinics do not issue certificates. Clinics do not usually charge legal fees, but they may ask clients who have the money to pay some or all of the expenses of a case, such as court filing fees and medical expenses.
Some specialty clinics deal with a certain area of law, such as workers compensation, or workers' health and safety. Other specialty clinics represent specific individuals or communities, such as seniors, disabled persons, or urban Aboriginals.
There are 17 specialty clinics, which serve clients from across the province. Most specialty clinics cannot help walk-in clients. You should call the clinic first to see if it can help you.
See a list of specialty clinics.