If you are eligible for legal aid, you could be represented by a lawyer who works for a legal aid office. You could also choose to be represented by a lawyer in private practice.
Check if you are eligible for legal aid
To qualify for legal aid, you must:
- Be financially eligible, according to the eligibility scales.
- Require services covered by legal aid.
Your financial situation
Your financial situation is evaluated taking into account the following criteria:
- your annual income
- your property and debts
- your savings
Your family situation is also taken into account, for example, whether you live alone, have a spouse, or have children.
Services covered by legal aid
The services you require must also be covered by the Legal Aid Act. A lawyer at the legal aid office will analyze your request and determine if the services are covered. Here are some services that are covered:
- separation, child custody, and support payments
- certain rental housing problems
- criminal charges
- claims regarding benefits from government organizations such as the CNESST (labour standards and worker health and safety board), the SAAQ (Quebec automobile insurance board), IVAC (crime victims compensation board) and
- youth protection matters
To learn more about these and other services covered by legal aid, consult our article Legal Aid: Do I Qualify?
Choosing your lawyer
If you’re eligible for legal aid, you could be represented by a lawyer who works at a legal aid office. The lawyer can provide the services you require, including representing you before a court or tribunal.
You also have the right to choose a lawyer in private practice. The lawyer will be paid by legal aid.
Important! Not all private practice lawyers accept legal aid cases. When you contact a lawyer about taking your case, you must ask if they accept legal aid cases (often referred to as “legal aid mandates”).
Someone involved in your case is already represented by a legal aid lawyer
If another person involved in your case (for example, your ex-spouse, your child, or a person or the opposing party in a lawsuit) is already being represented by a lawyer working at a legal aid office, you will have to find a lawyer in private practice to represent you.
If you are in this situation, you can ask the legal aid office if they have a list of private practice lawyers who accept legal aid mandates. Some legal aid offices can help you find such a lawyer or provide you with references.
Steps to take to be represented by a private practice lawyer
You should first contact the private practice lawyer you have in mind. Make sure they are willing to take your case and that they accept legal aid mandates.
You must then obtain a certificate from the legal aid office confirming your eligibility for legal aid. This certificate will also indicate whether legal aid will cover all the lawyer’s fees or whether you will have to pay a fixed contribution. If you must pay such a contribution, you’ll have to pay it to the legal aid office (not the lawyer who will represent you).
You must give this certificate to your lawyer.
Your lawyer can assist you with these different steps.
To prepare for your legal aid appointment and for additional information on legal aid, consult our Legal Aid Web Guide.