What if you do not qualify for legal aid?

Region: Ontario Answer # 849

If you do not qualify for legal aid, you may be able to get help from a number of other areas.

1. Community Legal Clinics

Community legal clinics have lawyers and trained legal workers to give you advice and to represent you. Clinics deal with housing, social assistance, pension, workers’ safety and insurance, Employment Insurance, employment rights, and landlord and tenant issues. You will have to complete a financial test to make sure you qualify for their services.

2. Duty counsel

If you are in court, on a family law, mental health, landlord and tenant, or criminal matter, and do not have a lawyer, lawyers at the courthouse called Duty Counsel, may be able to help you. In some cases, you may have to qualify financially before getting help. Duty Counsel provide information and advice, as well as representing people in bail hearings and sentencing. Duty Counsel are also available for young persons (under the age of 18) who have been charged with a criminal offence. If you are interested in getting help from Duty Counsel, you should check with the courthouse to see if there is a Duty Counsel available to help you.

3. Student Legal Services Organizations (SLSO)

Student Legal Services Organizations (SLSO) are available at Ontario’s seven law schools. The legal services are provided by volunteer law students, who are under the supervision of a full-time lawyer. Services are available to both full-time students, as well as low-income area residents who qualify financially.

The types of matters covered include: minor criminal offences, immigration issues, landlord and tenant matters, and representation at tribunals, including the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

4. Family Law Information Centres

Family Law Information Centres (FLIC) are available in most Ontario family courts. FLIC provide free assistance and information for people who need help with the court system, or those who don’t have a lawyer. Information and referrals are provided by Information and Referral Coordinators on a number of matters, including: separation and divorce, family justice services, court processes, alternative forms of dispute resolution, and local community resources. For more information, visit the Ministry of the Attorney General website.

5. Pre-paid legal insurance plans

Another alternative to legal aid is joining a pre-paid legal insurance plan. Like a health care plan, these insurance policies provide you with basic legal assistance and advice. Pre-paid legal membership can be in the range of $25 to about $50 per month. Also, some companies pay the legal insurance premiums on behalf of employees as part of its employee benefit plan. Through a “provider law firm” that deals with plan members, you can access fast answers to most legal problems.

There are different plans available depending on the needs of the individual or business. Some basic services include unlimited telephone calls, opinion letters, review of simple leases, calls by a lawyer on your behalf, and Will preparation.

For a list of Ontario community legal clinics or more information, visit Legal Aid Ontario.


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