The 12th Week

How to Get Legal Aid Service

If you need legal help
It is possible that in the first few months in Canada you may need legal assistance. This may be a conflict with the landlord where you live, or perhaps you did not receive some money owed to you or you may be in a car accident, or there are problems with the police. Lastly, there may be problems in your family.
Legal advice is not cheap. Here is a joke.
After a dinner where two friends met at a restaurant, one of them, a lawyer, sent the other friend an invoice for $100 for advice. "What kind of advice?” asked his friend, "We did not even talk about business!” The lawyer replied, "You asked me for advice about which wine to order and I gave you advice. Any my advice is not for free!”

Where can you find information on the laws of Canada
In Canada, there is a proper legal system which you will gradually get to know during your adaptation in this country. In the province of Ontario, for example, there is an organization called Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO), which aims to acquaint Canadians and, in particular immigrants, with the basic laws of the country. CLEO has published small booklets which are available free in libraries and online at Check out this site or ask for these brochures in libraries and you will find out a lot of useful information about Canadian law.

Can you get free legal assistance?
In Canada, there is free legal aid for those who do not have sufficient funds to pay for a lawyer. You can learn if you are eligible for this help by applying in Toronto to the organization of North York Legal Aid Office, 45 Sheppard Avenue East, Suite 106, phone 416-730-1588 or by looking over site:
Bring the necessary documents: identity card, SIN card, bank book and statement of wages if you have a job, or a notice of the receipt of unemployment benefits if you receive it. Upon receipt of welfare or other financial assistance, also bring the relevant documents. You also need to show tax returns for the last year. If you are not sure that you can freely converse in English, invite an interpreter.
You will be interviewed about your problem and your financial condition. If you have your own house, you may be asked to sign an agreement that you will pay for the service given to you if you sell your house.

What a Legal Aid Certificate?
If it is decided that you really need a lawyer and you have the right to apply for free legal service, you will get a Legal Aid Certificate. You can then seek advice from a lawyer whose services will be paid by the government (although not all lawyers accept such a certificate). Sometimes, this certificate will be not issued to you, but sent directly to your lawyer. It is necessary to use the Legal Aid Certificate as quickly as possible because its duration is limited.
If you doubt the correctness of the actions of your attorney, discuss your doubts with him/her, and if you do not achieve mutual understanding, you have the right to replace the lawyer. You can find the addresses of lawyers speaking your language in your local newspapers.
Where to find Community Legal Clinics
Another way to get free legal assistance is to contact one of the Community Legal Clinics. These organizations serve the residents of the surrounding area. You can discuss your situation and find out how to get help. To solve the simple questions, you will not need your own lawyer and you will not be asked about your income. By the way, you can contact the Community Legal Clinic to complain within ten days in cases where you are refused a Legal Aid Certificate. Addresses of Community Legal Clinics in Ontario are on the site:

Are you required to answer police questions?
At the request of the police, you must provide proof of your identity. However, to the questions of the police, you can say that you will only respond in the presence of your lawyer. If you do not have a lawyer, the police must offer one to you. If you think that the police have no reason to come into your apartment, you can refuse to open door but you cannot do it by force. You can appeal on the grounds of police misconduct.