About Us

Free Legal Help in Ontario

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 General.

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 of Hamilton.

Community Legal Clinics

Community Legal 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.

Community legal 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.

Hamilton's community 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 Resources.

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