Finding Legal Help in Ontario

 Finding Legal Help in Ontario

(updated September 2017)

 This guide has been prepared by the Bora Laskin Law Library to help people find a lawyer or other legal support to help resolve legal problems.

The staff at the Bora Laskin Law Library cannot provide legal advice. We will provide some direction to thosepatrons conducting their own legal research. Due to our limited resources, there may also be times when we cannot help members of the public directly

People sometimes come to the library with problems that cannot be resolved by research alone. Successful resolution of these problems involves additional steps, and each step may require technical know-how. Because experience in these steps is a great asset, most people entrust the process to a lawyer. At the very least, some basic legal advice is usually a necessity for anyone preparing for court.

Lawyers, of course, can be expensive, but this is not always so. Many government programs offer legal help for free or at reduced rates for people on a budget. If you have a legal problem and need legal help, please consider taking advantage of one or more of the following services.

Provides information on over 1,000 legal topics, in all 40 different areas of law specific to each province in Canada, in 107 languages.  

 

A 24 hour touch tone version of this service is available by phone at (416) 929-8400.

The Law Society of Upper Canada provides a no-obligation lawyer referral service.

The Lawyer Referral Service will provide the name of a lawyer who will be able to help you. Once you have completed the online form, you will be referred to a lawyer who will provide a free half-hour consultation before you decide whether you would like to hire that lawyer to work for you. The web site will walk you through the appropriate procedure to be followed. You can also call  1-855-947-5255 or 416-947-5255  if you are in the Toronto area.

Legal Aid Ontario provides legal assistance for low-income people in the province.

In Metro Toronto, call 416-979-1446, elsewhere in Ontario call: 1-800-668-8258.

    • to get free help from a lawyer—also known as summary advice—to help you deal with your legal problem
    • get information about legal aid services
    • learn the legal aid services for which you qualify

Pro Bono Ontario provides a Free Legal Advice Hotline for those who cannot afford a lawyer. You can receive 30 minutes of free legal advice from lawyer volunteers on the following topics. 

    • Going to court (civil matters only – no family law or criminal law)
    • Employment
    • Housing
    • Consumer issues, such as consumer debt and consumer protection
    • Creating Powers of Attorney
    • Corporate law for charities, non-profits and small businesses

Call toll free at 1-866-466-7256 Monday to Friday from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm

Community Legal Clinics

If you do not qualify for legal aid, you may wish to consider contacting the applicable community legal clinic from the list below. Many of these clinics have their own eligibility requirements, so you will need to check directly with the clinic to see if they will be able to represent you. One general requirement is based on residency — you must ordinarily attend the clinic nearest to where you live.

U of T Student Legal Clinics

There are a number of legal clinics operated by University of Toronto law students under the supervision of qualified professors or other staff. Each clinic may have slightly different eligibility requirements. Please contact the most applicable clinic to see if you qualify for their services.

Downtown Legal Services
Fasken Martineau Building
655 Spadina Avenue
Toronto, ON
M5S 2H9

Appointments are required, and can be made by calling (416) 978-6447


Downtown Legal Services is a community legal clinic operated by the University of Toronto's Faculty of Law. Free legal services are provided by law students, who are supervised by lawyers. The clinic offers legal advice and representation for problems in a number of areas of law, including criminal law, tenants' rights, family law, refugee law, and university affairs. Other legal services include public legal education, test case litigation and law reform activities. DLS also has three satellite clinics in the community at Evangel Mission, Fort York Food Bank, and the Church of the Redeemer.

  • Advocates for Injured Workers

    Phone: 416-924-6477
    Fax: 416-924-2472
    Toll-free in Ontario: 1-877-230-6311
    Toll-free in Canada for Migrant Workers: 1-866-521-8535
    Mail: 55 University Ave., 15th Floor, Toronto, ON  M5J 2H7

Advocates for Injured Workers (A.I.W.) is a small student legal clinic that specializes in Workers Compensation and Canada Pension Plan Disability claims. Students working at the clinic are supervised by a staff lawyer from the Industrial Accidents Victims Group of Ontario but have full responsibility for files including the preparation and presentation of appeals before the Workers Compensation Board and the Workers Compensation Appeals Tribunal.

Legal Intake Line:   416-533-0680

    • Mondays – 1 to 4:00pm – Worker’s Rights, EI, CPP
    • Wednesdays – 10 to 1:00pm – Ontario Works, ODSP, Landlord & Tenant
    • Thursdays – 10 to 1:00pm -Immigration and Refugee

The Centre for Spanish-Speaking Peoples serves eligible Spanish-speaking immigrants. As a result, a substantial amount of the casework is in the area of immigration law. There are two staff lawyers as well as students from Osgoode Hall Law School available for assistance. 

Shelters and Crisis Centres

The Metropolitan Toronto Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC) is a non-profit organization committed to the right of women and children to live their lives free of violence and the threat of violence.

158 Spadina Road
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
M5R 2T8
Main number: 416-392-3135
Toll-free: 1-877-558-5570
e-mail: info@metrac.org

The site includes a link a bookmark with an excellent collection of Tools and Resources.

The Family Transition Place describes itself as providing "safe shelter, support and counselling to abused women and their children." Their mission is to work in the community to end violence against women. The address is 20 Bredin Parkway, Orangeville, ON L9W 4Z9. They serve primarily the County of Dufferin and the Town of Caledon. Contact (519) 941- HELP (4357) or 1-800-265-9178.

ShelterSafe.ca is an online resource to help women and their children seeking safety from violence and abuse. The clickable map will serve as a fast resource to connect women with the nearest shelter that can offer safety, hope and support.

Government Agencies

Formerly the  Ontario Women's Directorate, the Ministry of the Status of Women  provides information on the social, economic and legal rights of women. 

The Ontario Human Rights Commission is a statutory body with the mandate of enforcing the Ontario Human Rights Code and of promoting human rights in Ontario. The extensive website above provides information on the Commission and the commissioners, the complaint process, summaries of legal decisions and other related information. Members of the public may initiate inquiries by calling the Commission at 1-800-387-9080.

The Ombudsman investigates complaints against provincial government organizations. When the Ombudsman finds something wrong, he or she can make recommendations to fix the problem, and if these are not acted upon, she can report the case to the Legislature. The Ombudsman can also help resolve complaints informally. Ontario's Ombudsman is an Officer of the provincial Legislature who is independent of the government and political parties.

Other Libraries


Other libraries in the Greater Toronto Area have large collections of legal resources. Like the Bora Laskin Law Library, however, the libraries below may not have the resources and staff to take you through each step in the research process.

The Toronto Reference Library is located at 789 Yonge Street, Toronto ON M4W 2G8. The main phone line is 416-393-7131 and the hours and location line is 416-393-7196. The catalogue is available online at the site above. Most materials are for use only in the library and cannot be signed out. Most law-related materials are found in the Main Reference area on the second floor.

The York University Law Library is located in the Osgoode Hall Law School at York University, 4700 Keele Street Toronto, M4K 1C2. The library has the largest law collection in all of Canada. While its primary focus is to serve York's law students and faculty, the library is open to the public. More information about hours and the collection can be found at the website above.

Self-Counsel Press Publications

Self-Counsel Press publishes various paperback books on a variety of legal topics. These books relatively inexpensive, are written in plain English by lawyers, and can be found in most bookstores or ordered through the company's website at the URL above. Alternatively, you may find that your local library carries several titles from this publisher. In many cases, the information in these books will answer your legal questions, and even if they do not and you are required to hire a lawyer, you will be better informed about your rights and will likely save on legal fees. Titles from this publisher include the following subjects (Note: Always make sure you are reading the most current edition):

  • Business Law
  • Divorce
  • Contracts
  • Incorporation
  • Business Law
  • Immigration
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Probate
  • Small Claims
  • Wills & Estates