Free Legal Help
Legal Aid Ontario
(LAO) is an independent agency created by the province in late 1998. It is administrated
by a board of directors and receives its funding from the Ministry of the Attorney
The Legal Aid Services
Act sets out the mandate of LAO. Its purpose is to promote access to justice throughout
Ontario for low income individuals.It provides legal aid services by a variety
of methods to those who cannot afford private lawyers.
LAO has two main
parts. The first is the legal aid certificate program, described in Community
Resources. The second is a system of 79 community legal clinics. Dundurn Community
Legal Services, Hamilton Mountain Legal & Community Services and McQuesten Legal
& Community Services are part of this clinic system serving low income residents
Clinics are independent not-for-profit corporations run by volunteer boards of directors. The
boards are made up of community members who share the aims and objectives of the
clinics in serving their local communities. Local governance and autonomy are
the foundation of the community legal clinic system. The Hamilton clinics are
committed to adapting our services to meeting community needs and working with
individuals, groups and service providers to improve legal rights and promote
access to justice.
Our aim is to be
as accessible as possible to those who may require our services in order to meet
the diverse legal needs of our community. We provide individual services but consider
an important part of our mandate to be working for systemic change. Hamilton's
community legal clinic staff and board members are active in local as well as
provincial networks, agencies and coalitions to further this goal.
The clinics are
all physically accessible for persons with disabilities. If interpretation services
are required they will be arranged.
clinics are staffed by lawyers, community legal workers, support staff, community
development workers and sometimes law students. All help is private and confidential.
To receive services
from a clinic you must live in the area it serves , your problem must be one of
the kinds the clinic handles and your income and assets cannot be above a certain
level. Clinic staff determine who qualifies for services. More information on
this is described in Our Services.
legal clinics all serve a geographical area. Dundurn Community Legal Services
serves central and west Hamilton (Gage Avenue is the eastern boundary). Hamilton
Mountain Legal & Community Services serves Hamilton Mountain including Stoney
Creek Mountain, Ancaster and Glanbrook. McQuesten Legal & Community Services serves
east Hamilton (starting at Gage Avenue), Stoney Creek and Winona. A map showing
which clinic to contact for a particular area is located in Contact
Us along with the clinics' addresses and phone numbers.
In addition to
general service clinics, the community legal clinic system also includes specialty
clinics, which serve a particular community or focus on a specific area of law.
Unlike general service clinics, most specialty clinics are not limited to serving
a particular geographic area. For more information on these clinics see the listing
available through the Legal Aid Ontario website found under Community
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