Interested in doing legal aid work?
Lawyers who represent legal aid clients must be authorized to provide services in the geographic area in which they have an office or established practice, and in the area(s) of law they practice. The standards for each area of law provide the minimum experience and professional development requirements that lawyers must meet. Standards help ensure that legal aid clients receive high‑quality services.
How to become a legal aid service provider
Step one: Submit an application
Before you can do any paid work for a legal aid client you must first be authorized by Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) to provide legal aid services in a specific area(s) of law and in the geographic area that your primarily practice law (if you practice in multiple cities, you must select one area as your home base).
The authorization process can take anywhere from three to six weeks to complete.
To start the process, you must meet all applicable standards. Where an applicant does not meet the applicable minimum experience standards, they may be admitted on a conditional basis as set out in the Rules.
LAO has updated its standards for roster members to ensure they align with the Legal Aid Services Act (LASA 2020) and the Legal Aid Services Rules. For more information, please consult the minimum experience requirements and the rule change.
The following documents must be completed and submitted to the district office serving the region of your law practice via fax or email:
- Completed eligibility checklist
- Completed application form and request for authorization forms for those areas of law in which you wish to practice
- Complex case rate
- Consent and capacity board
- Duty Counsel – Family and CYFSA
- Duty counsel—advice lawyer (domestic violence)
- Duty counsel—criminal
- Extremely serious criminal matters
- Family and CYFSA
- Refugee and immigration—General
- Refugee and immigration—Appellate
- A voided cheque for your business (your name or your firm’s name must be printed on the cheque)
- A completed direct deposit authorization form from your bank
- Your HST number
- A release for information from your professional indemnity company
- A release for information from the Law Society of Ontario
- If relevant, an update of your Law Society of Ontario status to confirm that you are licensed to practice and a member in good standing
Send your application to:
- Central East District
– includes the counties of Haliburton, Bracebridge, Peterborough, Cobourg, Durham, Kawartha Lakes, Orillia, Newmarket and Barrie. Director General: Lisa Banerjee
Phone: 705-737-3400 / 1-888-590-3961 (toll free)
- Central West District
– includes the counties of Norfolk, Haldimand, Brant, Hamilton, Niagara, Halton, Peel and Dufferin. Director General: Matthew Hammond
Phone: 905-528-0134 / 1-877-449-4003 (toll free)
- East District
– includes the counties of Hastings, Lennox and Addington, Frontenac, Leeds and Grenville, Lanark, Renfrew, Ottawa and Carleton, Prescott and Russell and Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry. Acting Director General: Cynthia Harper
Phone: 613-238-7931 / 1-877-314-0933
- North District
– includes the districts of Kenora, Rainy River, Thunder Bay, Cochrane, Algoma, Timiskaming, Parry Sound and Sudbury. Director General: Andreas Asmus
Phone: 807-345-1972 / 1-866-297-5559 (toll free)
- Toronto District
– includes East York, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough and Old Toronto. Director General: Tom Kelsey
- West District
– includes the counties of Essex, Lambton, Chatham-Kent, Bruce, Grey, Huron, Perth, Oxford, Elgin, Middlesex, Wellington and Waterloo. Director General: Kaitlyn McCabe
Phone: 519-255-7822 / 1-877-449-4002 (toll free)
Step two: LAO reviews application
Once all of the application documents arrive at your area’s district office, the director general reviews the application. LAO may contact you to obtain additional information. You will then get a letter from the director general that confirms:
- Whether you are authorized to provide legal aid services
- the areas of law you have been approved for
- the conditions, if any, that apply to your legal aid practice (if you are new to the practice of law or to a particular area of law, these conditions may include achieving prescribed standards in a set period of time, mentorship, or reviewing mandatory substantive law materials).
The director general will forward your application package to Legal Aid Ontario’s Provincial Office for processing.
Step three: Await your Legal Aid Ontario welcome package
You will receive a Legal Aid Ontario welcome package that includes:
- your Legal Aid Ontario roster solicitor number/vendor number
- your tier level (the level at which you can bill; if you are a new call, you will be billing at the Tier 1 level for criminal, mental health, prison law, tribunals and civil litigation)
- your user ID, password and other information about Legal Aid Online (Legal Aid Ontario’s online billing portal for lawyers)
- technical tips for online billing
- contact information for billing questions/concerns
- information about conditions relating to the provision of legal aid services specific to your situation, if any.
- To access Applications forms, Request for authorizations forms, and Release of information forms please visit the following link: https://www.legalaid.on.ca/lawyers-legal-professionals/forms-library/
For more information on standards, please contact your local director general or LAO’s Central Roster Management Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact the Finance Department if you have questions about the following:
- Fully completed applications that have been approved by district offices
- Tier level increases
- Maintaining records (address changes, updating banking information, etc.)
- HST refunds
- Government/legal garnishment
- Electronic fund transfer (bank EFT) rejections
Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday