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Options for Legal Help

At People's Law School, we believe accurate, plain English information can help people take action to work out their legal problems. But depending on how complex your legal issues are, it may be helpful to have a legal professional assist you.

Where can you find a lawyer?

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
Toll-free: 1-800-663-1919
Email: lawyerreferral@cbabc.org
Web: www.cbabc.org

  • 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
Toll-free: 1-866-577-2525
Web: www.legalaid.bc.ca

  • Access Pro Bono: Volunteer lawyers provide free legal advice to qualifying persons who cannot obtain legal aid or afford a lawyer.

Lower Mainland: 604-878-7400
Toll-free: 1-877-762-6664
Web: www.accessprobono.ca

Are there less expensive options to hire a lawyer?

According to national surveys of lawyer fees, the average cost to hire a lawyer for a two-day trial in a civil action is $25,000. The average cost to hire a lawyer for a two-day divorce trial is 18,000; a three-day labour arbitration matter, $15,000.  

An emerging option that can reduce the expense is to look for a lawyer that offers "unbundled" services. Unbundled legal services enable clients to hire a lawyer for only part of a legal matter. This can allow you to get a lawyer's assistance depending on what you can afford and when you most want the help. The BC Family Law Unbundling Roster is a list of legal professionals in British Columbia who offer unbundled services for family law matters.  

Can you get help from other legal professionals?

Depending on your situation, you may be able to get help from other legal professionals:

  • Notaries public: Notaries are legal professionals authorized to provide many non-contentious legal services to the public, including preparing wills and powers of attorney and notarizing signatures on documents. The Society of Notaries Public of BC offers a list of notaries in the province. 
  • Legal advocates: Legal advocates provide free support, advocacy, and information to low-income and marginalized individuals 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.
  • Law students: Law students from the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria offer free legal help with some legal matters. UBC's Law Students' Legal Advice Program clinics serve the Lower Mainland and the University of Victoria's Law Centre serves the Victoria area. 

Find legal help in your community

The Clicklaw HelpMap includes options for free or low-cost legal help in communities across the province.