Applying for a legal aid certificate
Legal Aid Ontario helps low-income individuals and disadvantaged communities get legal assistance through a broad range of services. For the most serious cases, LAO offers a Legal Aid Certificate program, which allows clients to receive legal aid services from their lawyer of choice.
- Legal Aid Ontario Area Offices receive and process client applications for Legal Aid Certificates in 48 communities across the province.
- Eligible people will receive a certificate from the LAO area office where they applied.
- You may apply for legal aid remotely if you or someone you know is already detained in jail or a psychiatric facility.
- If you qualify for a Legal Aid Certificate, LAO may be able to pay your lawyer for some of these services:
For Criminal Charges:
- An offence which would likely result in jail time (for example: assault, impaired driving causing bodily harm, robbery, welfare fraud, break and enter, etc.).
For Contested Family Law matters related to:
- Child custody.
- Children's Aid Society (child protection matters).
- Access to children.
- Child or spousal support.
- Property concerns.
For Immigration and Refugee matters:
- Hearings before the Refugee Protection Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board.
- Detention reviews.
- Sponsorship appeals.
- Appeals of deportation orders.
- Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA).
- Admissibility or Examination hearings.
- Humanitarian and Compassionate claims (rarely).
- Judicial Reviews of certain decisions.
For some civil cases and final appeals:
- Workplace Safety and Insurance Board decisions (WSIB and WSIAT).
- Social Benefits Tribunal matters.
- Financial Services Commission of Ontario (mediation only).
- Parole and prison law matters (revocation hearings, temporary absences, post suspension reviews, gating and independent chairperson proceedings).
- Landlord and tenant issues.
- Employment Insurance appeals.
- Mental Health Act issues (Consent and Capacity Board).
- Professional or University discipline proceedings.
- Board of Education expulsion hearings.
- Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.
- Ontario Human Rights.
- Judicial Review of administrative decisions.
- Responding to applications for disclosure of confidential records in criminal proceedings (O'Connor/Mills applications).
- Test cases.
- Civil litigation certificates are not available for:
- Wrongful dismissal.
- Civil fraud.
- Real estate or mortgage actions.
- Personal injury or medical malpractice.
- Actions for damages against a lawyer.
- Actions against LAO.
- This is not a complete list. To find out more about your specific case, please talk to your local LAO Area Office.
- For Criminal Charges:
- Decide if your legal problem relates to applying for a Legal Aid Certificate.
- Read Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to learn more about applying for a Legal Aid Certificate.
- Follow the Steps for instructions on how to apply for a Legal Aid Certificate.
- Review the Resources to find new and in-depth legal information about applying for a Legal Aid Certificate.
- See the Links for news and other helpful websites.