There are options for free and low-cost legal help.
Depending on how complex your legal issues are, it can be helpful to have a legal professional assist you. There are options for free and low-cost legal help.
Options for free or low-cost legal advice
There may be times when you want legal advice. Options for free or low-cost legal advice include:
Lawyer Referral Service
A service from the Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch that offers referrals to lawyers who can provide up to a half-hour consultation for $25 plus taxes.
Lower Mainland: 604-687-3221
Legal Services Society
The agency that operates legal aid in British Columbia provides a range of advice and representation services to help people for certain types of legal problems who meet financial guidelines.
Lower Mainland: 604-408-2172
Access Pro Bono
At clinics throughout BC, volunteer lawyers provide free legal advice to people with limited means.
Lower Mainland: 604-878-7400
A more affordable way to hire a lawyer — unbundled legal services
According to national surveys of lawyer fees, hourly rates for lawyers range from $200 to $400, depending on the experience of the lawyer, the size of the law firm, and the type of matter. To hire a lawyer in a lawsuit costs $10,000 to $50,000 and beyond, depending on whether the case goes to trial and how complex and contentious it is.
An emerging option that can reduce the expense is to look for a lawyer that offers "unbundled legal services". This can allow you to get a lawyer's assistance depending on what you can afford and what you need the most help with. See our page on unbundled legal services to learn whether this option could be a good fit for your situation.
Notaries help with many non-contentious legal services
Depending on your situation, you may be able to get help from other legal professionals. A notary public is a legal professional authorized to provide many non-contentious legal services to the public. For example, a notary can prepare a will or power of attorney and notarize signatures on documents. The Society of Notaries Public of BC offers a list of notaries in the province.
Advocates provide help for low-income and marginalized people
Legal advocates provide free support, advocacy and information to low-income and marginalized people experiencing legal problems. Advocates usually work out of community agencies, such as community service centres, churches or women's centres. PovNet offers a Find an Advocate map, and Clicklaw's HelpMap lists dozens of legal advocates in BC.
Student legal clinics provide assistance in some communities
At student legal clinics in the Lower Mainland and Victoria, law students can help those who would otherwise be unable to afford legal assistance. The students help with legal problems such as tenancy or work problems, accessing government benefits, (less serious) criminal charges, and small claims cases. The University of British Columbia's Law Students' Legal Advice Program clinics serve the Lower Mainland and the University of Victoria's Law Centre serves the Victoria area.
Finding legal help in your community
The Clicklaw HelpMap includes options for free or low-cost legal help in communities across the province.
For more options for legal help, see the Dial-A-Law page on free and low-cost legal help.