Money Matters: Legal Aid

Legal Aid Ontario is a government-funded organization that pays for legal services for low-income people. Those in need of legal services must apply directly to Legal Aid Ontario by calling 1-800-668-8258.

Upon approval, Legal Aid provides the client with a certificate. The certificate is a voucher that allows the client to hire a lawyer to assist them with 1) specific types of legal matters and 2) for specific amounts of time. For example, most family law certificates permit a client to purchase up to 12 hours of legal services for their family law matter.  Legal Aid may authorize additional hours if it believes there is a good reason for doing so.

Legal Aid sets the lawyer’s hourly rate and it limits the amount of time the lawyer can spend doing work on the client’s matter. As a result, Legal Aid certificates are most appropriate for straightforward matters. A certificate may not be appropriate for matters that involve complicated facts or legal issues, or matters that involve large amounts of documents.

Things Legal Aid will pay for include:

  • Preparing documents
  • Filing documents
  • Attending court
  • A limited number of client meetings
  • Meetings with CAS and third parties that are necessary
  • A limited amount of phone calls and correspondence with clients and third parties
  • Reasonable photocopying and postage expenses
  • Police reports, CAS records, and other documents that are required for the case. There is a spending limit for some types of records.

Things Legal Aid will NOT pay for include:

  • Excessive phone calls, meetings and correspondence with client or third parties
  • Long-distance calls
  • Travel to court, to meet with clients or for any other purpose
  • Experts
  • Work that is not relevant to the court case or that is not necessary to resolve the legal issues in dispute
  • Phone calls or emails to remind/confirm appointments or court dates

Things that require special permission from Legal Aid:

  • Travel expenses
  • Setting down a case for trial
  • Expert witnesses
  • Pre-trial motions or hearings
  • Any other extraordinary expense

We accept a limited number of Legal Aid certificates for child protection, family and criminal law matters. Prior to meeting with clients, we ask for their legal aid certificate information to verify that they have a valid certificate and the services authorized on the certificate. We do NOT acknowledge Legal Aid certificates until we meet with the client and agree to represent them.

The Eglinton West Law Office provides legal services in child protection, family and criminal law to clients across the GTA. Please contact us by phone: 416-554-1411 or email: info@eglintonwestlaw.ca to learn more about how we can assist you with your legal matter.  

By: Renatta Austin

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