If you are a low-income person, Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) may be able to provide you with legal assistance. Usually this means that you have little or no money left after paying for basic things like food and housing.
If you apply for (and receive) a “certificate” from LAO, you can use it like a “voucher” for legal services. You can use it to “pay” for a private lawyer to represent you for a certain number of hours. In general, to qualify for a legal aid certificate, your case must be one that LAO covers and you must be financially eligible.
Certificates are just one of a variety of services that LAO provides to people. These other services include free legal information and advice, support from courthouse lawyers who are there to explain what you need to do and help you when you have to appear, and help for criminal or family matters.
Legal Aid Ontario issues legal aid certificates to people who are both financially and legally eligible. In other words, this means that LAO will consider both your case and your finances, not just one or the other.
You can apply directly to LAO to have your legal fees covered through LAO. You can call Legal Aid Ontario directly at 1-800-668-8258. We are not involved in that process.
KPA represents legal aid clients in family law and criminal defence only.
In family law cases, KPA does not represent clients who have been granted less than 24 hours of billable services in their LAO certificate. Therefore, in order to be represented by one of our lawyers for a family law case, LAO must authorize at least 24 hours of our lawyers’ time in your certificate.
The above minimum requirement does not apply in criminal defence cases. If a client presents a legal aid certificate for a criminal defence case, KPA will almost always accept that case, unless our criminal defence team is at full capacity.
If you have been granted an LAO certificate, congratulations!
There are many ways to get in touch with us. You can do any of the following:
1) Call us at 905 965 6263 (or toll free at 1 877 301 7613) between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday, except holidays.
2) Use the contact form at the bottom of this page.
3) If you have a criminal defence case, then you can book a free phone call by clicking here. If you are calling after usual business hours with a criminal law matter, you can call (289) 201-5816.
4) If you have a family law case, then you can book a free phone call by clicking here.
KPA is a private law firm. Our lawyers are not employed by LAO, and we are not affiliated with LAO other than being authorized to represent people who have been granted a certificate by LAO. We represent a range of clients from all walks of life, from large corporations to low-income persons.
Absolutely. In fact, the vast majority of our clients are private clientele who do not qualify for legal aid due to their income being too high.
This is a myth. “Legal aid lawyers” and “private lawyers” are literally the exact same people. In other words, the same private lawyers who are hired directly by the public for their skill, reputation and experience represent both legal aid clients and high net-worth clients. The difference is who pays the bill.
Moreover, in order for lawyers to receive payment from LAO, lawyers must meet certain standards of experience and quality that lawyers who aren’t authorized by LAO do not necessarily meet. This means that your LAO funded lawyer might actually have more experience and capabilities that a lawyer who does not accept payment from LAO.
Another difference is that LAO will impose restrictions on how many hours of your lawyer’s time they will pay for and what kinds of cases LAO is willing to pay for.