What is a Community Legal Clinic?

Community legal clinics are offices with lawyers and community legal workers who help low-income and certain groups, like youth.

Who can use CLCs?

If you need legal help, but don't have the money to pay a lawyer, you can get help from a Community Legal Clinic (CLC). Community legal clinics are found all over Ontario. They help people with many legal issues, except for criminal and family law.

You can get help from a Legal clinic regardless of your immigration status. This means that you do not need to have Canadian citizenship or other legal status (like permanent residence, or refugee status) to get help from a clinic.

If you are young, you don’t have to be an adult to get legal help. If you are under 18 years old, you can get help from Justice for Children and Youth.

Any discussion you have with staff at a CLC is confidential. This means that anything you tell a clinic legal worker about your situation is private and will not be repeated.

What types of legal problems do legal clinics cover?

Community legal clinics cover issues like immigration/refugee claims, housing, social assistance, employment and human rights. To be sure the clinic you want to visit has the services that you need, call or email them first to ask. Find a community legal clinic near you.

For criminal, family and immigration law issues you can apply for Legal Aid by getting a Legal Aid certificate. Legal Aid certificates are awarded based on financial need. If you cannot get Legal Aid, you still have options.

You can also get help and legal advice from duty counsel. Duty counsel covers the same legal problems as Legal Aid. You can find more information about duty counsel here, A small number of Student Legal Aid Services also cover immigration, criminal and housing problems. Find a Student Legal Aid Service location near you.

What other things can community legal clinics help you with?

  • Legal advice and information
  • Help with forms and other paperwork
  • Representation in court. Your representative may be a clinic advocate (who may be a lawyer, community legal worker or student, depending on the circumstances of the case)
  • Referral to a private lawyer who may be able to provide services at a discount or pro bono (for free), or to a community agency
  • Legal education and information
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