Very often people need legal support to help resolve their legal problems or issues. Many people entrust the process to a lawyer, whereas some basic advice is usually a necessity in other cases.
· Law Society of Upper Canada – Lawyer Referral Service
· Legal Aid in Ontario
· Community Legal Clinics
· Family Law Information Centre (FLIC)
· Student Legal Aid Services Societies
· Pro Bono Law Ontario
LAW SOCIETY OF UPPER CANADA – LAWYER REFERRAL SERVICE
If you need a lawyer but you are not sure how to find one, the Law Society’s Lawyer Referrals Service (LRS) will help. It provides a no-obligation lawyer referral service at no cost. Call 1-800-268-8326 or 416-947-3330 (within the GTA), 9 to 5 Monday to Friday. This is a phone-based service only.
When you call the LRS, you will be given a referral number, the name of one or more lawyers and their phone numbers in Ontario near where you live who practice in the area of law that meets your needs. The service can also help you to find a lawyer who speaks your language or accept Legal Aid certificates. You then phone the lawyer’s office and leave a number where you can be reached. Within three business days someone will contact you to arrange a thirty-minute free consultation. This consultation may be over the phone or in person (the choice is up to the lawyer). The lawyer cannot write any letters for you or prepare other documents during this consultation.
You are buying your first home. You are drawing up a will or you are starting a new business. You need a lawyer but you are not sure how to find one. The Law Society’s Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) can help.
The lawyer needs to hear your story. Thus, you have to prepare for your meeting with the lawyer. Think what you are going to say and how you are going to explain your situation clearly and simply. Talk openly, in order to understand how the law applies to you, the lawyer needs to know details and sometimes even very personal information. Write down a few notes during the conversation, this may help you later to remember exactly what the lawyer said. You can discuss how much it would cost to get legal work done for you. After that you will decide whether or not to hire that lawyer or consider other options.
The following website http://www.lsuc.on.ca/public/a/faqs---lawyer-referral-service/ will help you to get more information on this service.
LEGAL AID IN ONTARIO
Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is an independent agency funded largely by the Province of Ontario. It gives low-income people access to a range of legal services for a variety of legal problems including criminal matters, family disputes, immigration and refugee hearings, landlord/tenant disputes and employment insurance.
Eligibility for legal aid is based on financial need and the type of case. The applicant may pay nothing or a portion of the costs of the legal aid, depending on his or her financial situation. When approved and a Legal Aid Certificate received, a person is entitled to hire the lawyer of their choice.
The following website http://www.legalaid.on.ca/en/default.asp provides answers to different questions, including the financial eligibility requirements, the location of the legal aid offices and community legal clinics in Ontario.
You can call 416-979-1446 in Toronto or 1-800-668-8258 elsewhere in Ontario to get needed information or referrals. Their fax number is 416-979-8669.
If Legal Aid Ontario cannot help, they can refer you to someplace that can.
· DUTY COUNSEL SERVICE
Duty counsel are private bar or Legal Aid Ontario staff lawyers who can give immediate, legal assistance to low-income people who appear in court without a lawyer. Duty counsel services are available to low-income people in every courthouse in Ontario. If you have a criminal or family law issue, speak to duty counsel before your court appearance. Please note that duty counsel cannot assist with criminal trials. · ADVICE LAWYERS
· ADVICE LAWYERS
Legal Aid Ontario offers out-of-court support through advice lawyers. Advice lawyers assist people with general advice and reviewing legal documents on issues such as family law.
Call Legal Aid Ontario toll-free at 1-800-668-8258 or 416-979-1446, to find the one in your region. Legal Aid Ontario accepts collect calls.
COMMUNITY LEGAL AND SPECIALTY CLINICS
If you do not qualify for legal aid, you may consider contacting one of the 80 independent community legal clinics, including 17 specialty clinics that provide legal assistance to low-income individuals and disadvantaged communities. They can assist with various legal issues such as: tenant rights, Ontario Works (OW), Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), government pensions, immigration, employment insurance, workplace safety and insurance, Workers’ Compensation, employment rights, criminal injuries compensation and human rights.
Since many of these clinics have their own eligibility criteria, you have to contact a community legal clinic directly to determine your eligibility for their services and find out if they will be able to represent you. One general requirement is based in residency – you must contact the clinic nearest to where you live.
The following website http://www.legalaid.on.ca/en/contact/contact.asp?type=cl will help you to find a nearest community legal clinic.
Family Law Information Centres have been established in most courts that deal with family law matters. They offer free assistance and information related to family law issues, particularly to clients who are not represented by a lawyer and are entering the court system for the first time.
For more information visit the following website: http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/family/infoctr.asp
Each family court location has the following resources and services available:
· pamphlets and other publications on issues related to separation and divorce and child protection matters, including What You Should Know About Family Law in Ontario (available in 9 languages)
· the Ministry's Guide to Family Procedures
· information about legal services, the court process and court forms
· at designated times, an Advice Lawyer from Legal Aid Ontario who can provide summary legal advice
· an Information and Referral Coordinator who will provide information on alternative dispute resolution options, issues related to separation and divorce and community resources
· referrals to family mediation services connected with the court
· information about and referrals to parent information sessions
Need immediate assistance? You can call Legal Aid Ontario toll-free at 1-800-668-8258 or 416-979-1446 to speak to a representative.
Legal Aid Ontario accepts collect calls.
STUDENT LEGAL AID SERVICES SOCIETIES
Student Legal Aid Services Societies (SLASS) is funded by Legal Aid Ontario. They operate out of Ontario's six law schools. With the supervision of full time lawyers or qualified professors volunteer law students provide legal advice and represent clients in cases such as: minor crimes, landlord and tenant, immigration and tribunals, including the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Each clinic may have slightly different eligibility requirements. Please contact the clinic to see if you qualify for their services.
PRO BONO LAW ONTARIO
Lawyers in Ontario are members of a self-regulating profession that bears the responsibility to help ensure that those of limited means are not excluded from the justice system.
http://www.lawhelpontario.org/. Free legal services to the public are available in self –help centres in courthouses on 5 topic areas:
· Civil Litigation – help with your civil matter (suing someone or being sued)
· Appeals – appealing a decision at Division Court, the Court of Appeal for Ontario, or the Federal Court of Appeal;
· Life – employment law matter or other issues that come up in the course of life;
· Children – education advocacy and child and youth advocacy;
· Community and Cultural – advocacy for special interest groups, or non-profit and charitable organizations.
Public information on legal issues is also available from the following http://www.pblo.org