Options for legal help

Myth or fact?

I can only get free legal advice if I earn less than a certain amount of money.
  • Myth
  • Fact

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.

There may be times when you want legal advice.

One of the best options for free legal advice is the Lawyer Referral Service. It helps British Columbians of any income find a suitable lawyer to serve their legal needs. Operated by Access Pro Bono, the service provides the contact details of a lawyer who will meet with you for a free half-hour legal consultation. The lawyer can provide some initial advice on your options. Then, if you and the lawyer agree, you can hire that lawyer at their regular rates.

Meanwhile, at Access Pro Bono clinics throughout BC, volunteer lawyers provide free legal advice to people with limited means.

Legal Aid BC provides free legal advice (and other services) for certain types of legal problems to people who meet financial guidelines.

Dial-A-Law describes more options for free legal advice.

Lawyer Referral Service
Helps you connect with a lawyer for a free half-hour consult.
Access Pro Bono Clinics
Volunteer lawyers provide free legal advice to people with limited means.
Legal Aid BC
Legal aid support by phone, with a list of available service locations.

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. Instead of hiring a lawyer to handle your entire matter, you can hire a lawyer to handle specific parts. Doing so “unbundles” these tasks from the parts you can do yourself.

Unbundled legal services
You handle parts of your case, and get help from a lawyer with other parts.

Notaries help with many non-contentious 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 power of attorney and most types of wills. They also notarize signatures on documents.

Notaries Public
A notary public can help with many non-contentious legal matters.

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
PovNet features a map tool to help find an advocate.
Clicklaw HelpMap
Clicklaw's HelpMap lists dozens of legal advocates in BC.

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. 

UBC Law School's Student Advice Program
Law students provide help to people with limited means in the Vancouver area.
University of Victoria Law Centre
Law students provide help to people with limited means in the Victoria area.
Clicklaw HelpMap
Search for free or low-cost legal help in communities across the province.

  • Reviewed in March 2021
  • This information applies to British Columbia, Canada
  • Time to read: 4 minutes

Reviewed for legal accuracy by

Drew Jackson, People's Law School

Drew Jackson

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If you're looking for advice specific to your situation, there are options for free or low-cost help.

Options for legal help