How long does it take to get legal aid

  Apply As Soon As Possible:


If you think you are eligible for Legal Aid, you should apply as soon as possible.


Normally it takes two or three weeks to process your application. Your lawyer cannot officially start working on your file until s/he has your Legal Aid certificate.


When approved, take your Legal Aid certificate to the lawyer of your choice.


Many lawyers do not accept Legal Aid, so you may have difficulty finding one, but you will sooner or later.

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Legal Aid assists low income persons accused of serious criminal offences who are facing jail sentences, and for youths charged, anywhere in Canada

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Legal Aid Will Pay for Your Lawyer if:


What kind of cases are covered?


If you qualify financially, Legal Aid may be able to pay your lawyer for some of these things. This is not a complete list. Please talk to your Legal Aid office about your specific case.


If you are experiencing domestic violence, you may be eligible for a legal aid certificate under a separate set of financial eligibility guidelines. If you have an income or own property, you may qualify for a certificate with a contribution agreement.

Criminal Charges

  • any offense which will likely result in jail time e.g. assault, impaired driving causing bodily harm, robbery, welfare fraud, break and enter

In Family Matters:

  • to get custody of your children or to change custody
  • to get a restraining order against your partner
  • to remove your partner from your home, in cases of physical abuse.
  • to establish or to change support payments for you and your child
  • to establish access to your children where no arrangements have already been made
  • to help with custody and access rights if your partner is likely to move far away so you can't see your children to threatens to take your children away from you
  • to help if your partner denies you access to your child
  • to change access from supervised to non-supervised
  • to stop your partner from selling or destroying your property
  • to negotiate property issues, including RRSP's and pensions
  • In Immigration and refugee matters
  • refugee hearings before the Immigration and refugee Board
  • sponsorship appeals
  • deportation appeals and submissions to the Minister of Immigration for deportation appeals

For Other Civil Cases

  • Workers' Compensation
  • mental health hearings and appeals
  • parole hearings and appeals
  • damage claims

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How you  apply for Legal Aid?


Call and make an appointment if possible. Then go to your local Legal Aid office and speak to a staff person.

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Legal Aid Will Pay for Your Lawyer if:

Your Income Is:





  • You have little or no money left after you pay for basic necessities, like food and housing, and your legal problem is one that Legal Aid covers
  • People with no income or on social assistance almost always qualify financially for Legal Aid.
  • Your legal situation is urgent and serious and you have little or no money left after you pay for the necessities like food and housing.
  • People with no income of on social assistance usually qualify financially for Legal Aid.
  • You may be able to get Legal Aid even if you have some money in the bank and/or a house.
  • The Legal Aid office will look at your personal financial circumstances to decide if you qualify. Every situation is different. It all depends on your family responsibilities and your monthly expenses
  • Legal aid staff will look at your personal financial circumstances to decide if you qualify. Every situation is different. It all depends on your family responsibilities and your monthly expenses.

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Income must be belowSize of Family1$20,0002345$30,500$35,000$42,000$48,000

Do you have to pay anything?

Legal aid is usually free to people with little income or money. People who have a little money but not enough to hire a lawyer may have to pay part of the cost.

If you do have to pay, you will be asked to sign a Payment Agreement which says that you agree to:

  • pay Legal Aid a certain amount every month: or
  • pay Legal Aid a lump sum of money; or
  • have a lien put on your house or property. The lien usually says that you will pay Legal Aid back when you sell or refinance your house, when you renew the mortgage on your house or within five years, whichever comes first.

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Legal aid is the provision of assistance to people otherwise unable to afford legal representation and access to the court system. Legal aid is regarded as central in providing access to justice by ensuring equality before the law, the right to counsel and the right to a fair trial. Source Wikipedia

How long does it take?

It usually takes two or three weeks to process your application. Your lawyer cannot officially start working on your file until s/he has a Legal Aid certificate.

Make sure to tell Legal Aid staff if your situation is an emergency. The staff will help your fill out an application and may be able to tell you right away whether you can get Legal Aid. If you already have a lawyer, Legal Aid will mail the certificate directly to your lawyers. If you do not have a lawyer, you contact one while you wait for your certificate.

It takes two or three weeks to get a Legal Aid certificate. If you will require Legal Aid, apply for it promptly. The process can take time and your lawyer cannot start work on your case until you have a Legal Aid Certificate.

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What do you need to bring with you?


This varies by province so check with your local legal aid office.

  • Identification such as your social insurance card, driver's licenser. birth certificate or landed immigrant papers.
  • Documents relating to your case, such as court orders. separation agreements
  • Proof of income if you have any (3-4 recent pay stubs, welfare cheque stubs or employment Insurance statements)
  • Proof of monthly expenses and bills (rent receipt, mortgage payment, hydro, gas, car payment receipts of cancelled cheques, credit card statements, car insurance bill)
  • Deed for your house.

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Where else can you get help if

you do not qualify for Legal Aid,

Community Legal Clinics may be able to help you. The clinics have lawyers and trained legal workers to give you advice and represent you.

These clinics usually deal with housing, (landlord and tenant) social assistance (welfare), pension, Worker's Compensation, employment insurance and immigration and employment rights issues.

You will have to complete a financial test to make sure you qualify for their service.

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What if you are rejected for Legal Aid?

You can appeal. If you are turned down for legal aid. you can go back to the Legal Aid office and ask to fill out an appeal form.

 After you have filled out the appeal form, you will get an appointment to speak to the area committee, usually in about two or three weeks.

You have to tell the committee, which is usually a group of three lawyers, why you are appealing the decision.

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