Historical overview

The history of legal aid services in Ontario dates back to the 1950s:


Province establishes the Law Society Amendment Act to fund a small range of criminal and civil cases. Lawyers provide legal help on a volunteer basis.


Ontario government finances the Ontario Legal Aid Plan based on England’s and Scotland’s models. The Law Society of Ontario (then the Law Society of Upper Canada) manages the plan.

Early 1970s

The Ontario Legal Aid Plan establishes community legal clinics to address the needs of low‑income and disadvantaged Ontarians.


Law professor John McCamus leads a review of the Ontario Legal Aid Plan and recommends the creation of an independent body to govern the plan.


Ontario government introduces the Legal Aid Services Act, 1998 to create Legal Aid Ontario, an independent but publicly funded and publicly accountable non‑profit corporation providing high quality legal aid services to low‑income people throughout the province.