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.
      • Adoptions.
    • 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.

Learn more

  1. Decide if your legal problem relates to applying for a Legal Aid Certificate.
  2. Read Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to learn more about applying for a Legal Aid Certificate.
  3. Follow the Steps for instructions on how to apply for a Legal Aid Certificate.
  4. Review the Resources to find new and in-depth legal information about applying for a Legal Aid Certificate.
  5. See the Links for news and other helpful websites.

Back to Top

DisclaimerLast updated 07/30/2009