Legal Aid

LEGAL AID ONTARIO CLIENTS

Clients have three common misconceptions about Legal Aid.

Misconception 1 – Legal Aid lawyers are second rate.

Nothing is further from the truth.  I have worked on Legal Aid files with other Legal Aid lawyers throughout my 23 years of private practice.  The lawyers that accept clients funded by Legal Aid Ontario (“LAO”) are in my experience very settlement oriented, extremely experienced and knowledgeable about the Judges and court process. They are often found at training and skills development lectures.

Misconception 2 –You can’t treat me differently just because I am on Legal Aid

This is not true, at least at our firm.  While Legal Aid clients are entitled to the same degree of attention and professionalism as paying clients, there are differences.  When you are not paying for our services we have an obligation to LAO not to waste their money on things that a paying client of modest means would not normally do.  Legal Aid clients that call every day and have instructed us to bring wasteful and unnecessary (in our opinion) court appearances are not welcome here. Paying clients that do the same thing are very welcome.  They will be paying us (and likely the opposing party) large legal fees. LAO will not pay us for your daily telephone calls and wasted appearances / meetings.

As a legal aid client you should also be aware of two other things:

  1. If we suspect that you are lying to LAO about your financial situation, we will tell them; and
  2. We may (against your wishes) set up a settlement meeting with very experienced LAO officials and the other party (even if they are not on legal aid). If you do not settle on reasonable terms, LAO may not wish to continue funding your case and we may wish to stop representing you.

Misconception 3 – I have no money or Legal Aid, calling you is pointless

We do not take cases “for free” or on a contingency basis. We will refer you to any LAO Clinics or other resources that we know of and in some cases intervene on your behalf to LAO.  We do so without charge.

What Legal Aid services do you provide?

Areas in which we accept Legal Aid certificates include clients with mental health issues that are charged with criminal offences, or facing Ontario Review Board hearings; parents or family members involved in Children’s Aid Society cases; and parents or spouses fighting over custody, child support or restraining orders.  LAO does not cover the costs of obtaining the divorce order itself. Areas we do not accept Legal Aid include immigration law, extremely serious criminal matters, and consent and capacity board matters.

How and why should I apply for Legal Aid?

The preferred method of applying for Legal Aid is by phone at 1-800-668-8258.  It is recommended that you call either early in the morning before 11:00am or after 3:00pm.  Calls are taken between 8:00am and 5:00pm.

You need a lawyer and the worst they can say is “no”. Even then you can appeal their decision to a body called the “Area Committee”. The area committee will consider your appeal and ensure that Legal Aid is correct in refusing your application and even if it was, they may offer you other options to obtain coverage, usually involving some contributions on your part.

Legal Aid Ontario has many clinics and other resources to assist clients of modest means. Their web address is www.legalaid.on.ca .

 

Before using you as my lawyer

Once your LAO certificate is acknowledged by us, LAO may refuse your request to change lawyers. Prior to using us, we expect that:

  1. You have called LAO and confirmed your certificate # (a number beginning with the letters CE as in CE123456) is in good standing (not expired, accepted by another lawyer, or cancelled).
  2. You have read and understand our LAO policies, and we have agreed on what you feel is an acceptable resolution of your case; and
  3. You have (if applicable) sought and obtained LAO’s permission to switch lawyers.
Ramsi LGH
Ramsi LGH
14:37 26 Aug 19
Arya Aboosaidi
Arya Aboosaidi
11:48 16 Sep 18
Great law firm!
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