Finding Legal Help in Ontario

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 information on this page is not considered legal advice and the staff at the Bora Laskin Law Library cannot provide legal advice.

Legal Services

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) 929-0054.

The Law Society of Ontario provides a no-obligation lawyer referral service. The service will provide the name of a lawyer who will be able to help you with a free half-hour consultation before before you decide whether you would like to hire that lawyer to work for you.

Legal Aid Ontario provides legal assistance for low-income people in the province. In Toronto, call 416-979-1446, elsewhere in Ontario call: 1-800-668-8258.

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 civil law issues such as employment, housing, consumer protection (no family or criminal law matters). Call toll free at 1-855-255-7256 Monday to Friday from 9:30-11:00 am and 1:00-3:30 pm.

For a list of more free and subsidized legal services, see the Self-Represented Litigants Resource created by staff at the Great Library at the Law Society of Ontario.

Community Legal Clinics

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. Legal Aid Ontario has a searchable list of legal clinics.

U of T Student Legal Clinics

There are a number of legal clinics operated by University of Toronto law students under the supervision of lawyers. 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 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, Fred Victor Women’s 24/7 Drop-In, and the Church of the Redeemer. If you are calling to request legal assistance, please call 416-978-6447.

  • Advocates for Injured Workers

    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. Advocates for Injured Workers does not perform intake. If you are currently seeking representation for your claims with the WSIB or the WSIAT, please contact the Industrial Accident Victims Group of Ontario

The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic provides free legal, counselling and cultural interpretation services for women survivors of violence. Under the supervision of lawyers, students work in the clinic’s legal department, which focuses on the safety and protection of clients and their pursuit of financial compensation. The clinic offers services in criminal, family, immigration, and immigration and refugee law. If you are calling to request assistance, please call 416-323-9149.

Aboriginal Legal Services is an Indigenous legal services centre that provides free legal assistance to low income Indigenous people living in the City of Toronto. ALS is involved in law reform, community organizing, public legal education, and test case litigation and its work also includes Gladue programs and victim rights advocacy. If you are calling to request legal assistance, please call 416-408-3967.

The Investor Protection Clinic provides free legal services and public legal education to members of vulnerable communities who are at risk of suffering harm, or may have suffered harm, relating to their investments. Its focus is on the elderly, newcomers to Canada, and others who may not be able to afford legal representation. Fill out their Contact Us Form to request legal assistance. 

Government Agencies

The Office of Women's Issues provides information on the social, economic and legal rights of women. The office can help women and children find emergency shelters, crisis and support services, counselling services, transitional and housing support services, province-wide crisis help-lines, Indigenous-specific programs and supports to reduce violence against Indigenous women and children

The Human Rights Legal Support Centre (HRLSC) offers human rights legal services to individuals throughout Ontario who have experienced discrimination contrary to Ontario's Human Rights Code. Our services may include legal assistance in filing applications at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO), and legal representation at mediations and hearings. If you are calling to request legal assistance, please call 1-866-625-5179.

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. If you are calling to request assistance, please call 1-800-263-1830.

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. Nor can they provide legal advice.

The largest legal resources collection available through the Toronto Public Library is located at the Toronto Reference Library, which is located at 789 Yonge Street, Toronto ON, M4W 2G8, 416-395-5577. Law-related materials are found in the Main Reference area on the second floor and most can only be used within the library.

The Osgoode Hall Law School Library is located 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. 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 

Updated August 2021