Services in Ontario - Getting legal help in criminal law

Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) – Criminal Law Services


Contact Information

Phone 416-979-1446 Toll-free 1-800-668-8258 TTY 711

During the COVID-19 situation, LAO is offering more telephone support. Call LAO’s summary advice line at 1-800-668-8258 for more information.

LAO has services for people who have been charged with a crime. This includes:

  • a free summary advice line that can give you up to 20 minutes of information and general advice about your criminal law matter
  • criminal duty counsel who can give you free legal advice if you don’t have a lawyer on the day of your hearing
  • a legal aid certificate program if you have a low income and if your legal issue is one that LAO covers

Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) – Legal aid certificates


Contact Information

Phone 416-979-1446 Toll-free 1-800-668-8258 TTY 711

If you get a legal aid certificate, this means that LAO pays a lawyer to work for you. To get a certificate you must show that you have a low income by giving information about your income, property, and savings.

And, your legal issue must be one that LAO covers. You may get a certificate for some legal issues about:

  • domestic violence
  • family law
  • criminal law
  • immigration law
  • refugee law

To apply for a legal aid certificate:

Student Legal Service Organizations (SLSO)

Legal Aid Ontario funds Student Legal Aid Services Societies that operate out of Ontario’s law schools. They offer free legal help to people with a low income in certain legal areas, including minor crimes, housing, and immigration, and when dealing with some tribunals.

They can also help with some family law issues, such as child custody, access, and child support issues. And some help with other family law issues, such as property division and spousal support.

Law Society Referral Service

The Law Society of Ontario has on online Law Society Referral Service that gives you the name of a lawyer or licensed paralegal who will give free legal advice for up to 30 minutes in any area of law.

If you can’t wait for a legal representative to call you back, or if you don’t have a call-back number, email Or, if you’re in crisis or in custody, call 1-855-947-5255 or 416-947-5255, Monday to Friday, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) – Find a lawyer

If you have a legal aid certificate and are looking for a lawyer who accepts certificates, you can use LAO’s online tool. It lets you look for a lawyer by location, area of law, and language. You can also search for a lawyer with experience in domestic violence cases.

Ontario Paralegal Association


Contact Information

Phone 416-944-1020

The association has an online tool to help you find a licensed paralegal. You can search by name, area of law, and location.


JusticeNet is a not-for-profit organization that can help people find legal services when their income is too high for legal aid and too low to afford legal fees. Their website has a list of lawyers, paralegals, and mediators who charge reduced fees based on your income and the size of your family. You must register and pay a small fee to use their services.

Law Society of Ontario


Contact Information

Phone 416-947-3315 Toll-free 1-800-668-7380

The Law Society regulates and monitors lawyers and paralegals in Ontario. You can make a complaint to the Law Society if you have a problem with a lawyer or paralegal who didn’t do their job properly or behaved unprofessionally. They don’t deal with issues about fees charged by a lawyer or paralegal.

Complaints Resolution Commissioner


Contact Information

Phone 416-947-3442 Toll-free 1-866-880-9480

The commissioner can review a decision by the Law Society of Ontario you don’t agree with about a complaint you made about a lawyer or paralegal.

The commissioner’s role is to make sure that the Law Society handled your complaint properly and their decision was reasonable. If the commissioner thinks that the decision was not reasonable, they can ask the Law Society to do something more.

Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) – Criminal duty counsel


Contact Information

Phone 416-979-1446 Toll-free 1-800-668-8258 TTY 711

During the COVID-19 situation, duty counsel services are being provided by phone. Call LAO’s summary advice line at 1-800-668-8258 for more information.

Criminal duty counsel give free legal advice to people who don’t have a lawyer on the day of their hearing. Criminal duty counsel are paid for by Legal Aid Ontario and work in most courts in Ontario. If they aren’t in court, they’ll have an office nearby.

Duty counsel usually can’t represent you at your trial, but they may be able to:

  • help with a pre-trial meeting
  • give information and advice
  • help you find out if you qualify for a legal aid certificate

Inside the courtroom, they can:

  • give information to the court for you
  • reschedule your hearing if you appear without a lawyer
  • tell the court what’s going on with your case when they reschedule it
Hide this website