3. Look for a lawyer outside of Legal Aid

You should also look for a lawyer in other ways, not just by applying to Legal Aid. If you want the government to pay for your lawyer, the court will want to know what you’ve done to find a lawyer and pay for them

If you can’t afford to hire a lawyer for your whole case, some lawyers also provide “unbundled services” or “limited scope retainer” services. This means you pay them to help you with part of your case. For example, a lawyer could help you ask the court to order the government to pay for your lawyer.

Law Society Referral Service

The Law Society Referral Service is an online service that gives you the name of a lawyer in your area who can give you a free consultation for up to 30 minutes.

You don’t have to hire this lawyer. But the consultation lets you see if you like the lawyer, and to discuss their fees.

You can only use this service once for the same legal problem.


JusticeNet is a not-for-profit organization that helps people access legal services when their income is too high to qualify for legal aid but too low to afford legal fees. If your net family income is less than $59,000, they refer you to an online directory of lawyers, paralegals, and mediators who provide help at reduced rates depending on income.

You must register and pay a $25 fee to use the website. This fee may be returned to you if you don’t find a professional to work with.

Paying for a lawyer

When you hire a lawyer, they will usually ask you to sign a retainer. A retainer is a written document that says what you’re hiring them for and how much they charge.

You can ask the lawyer if they will reduce their fees to take into account your financial situation. You can also ask if you can work out a payment plan if you aren’t able to pay all of the fees right now.

You might need to make changes to your finances to pay for a lawyer. For example, you might need to reduce your monthly expenses, sell RRSPs, refinance your home, or borrow money from friends or family. 

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