Myth or 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.
What you should know
There are options for free legal help if you have a low or modest income.
One option is Access Pro Bono's Summary Advice Program. At clinics across British Columbia, volunteer lawyers provide up to a half hour of free legal advice on a range of legal issues.
Access Pro Bono also operates specialized programs that offer free assistance (including in some cases representation) to those experiencing certain legal problems.
Legal Aid BC provides free legal advice and other services to people who meet financial guidelines and who experience certain types of legal problems, such as family, criminal and immigration problems.
The Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS) provides free assistance to modest-income British Columbians facing certain types of legal issues, including eviction, human rights complaints, and work-related issues.
Access Pro Bono's Free Legal Advice
Legal Aid BC
Community Legal Assistance Society
Free and low-cost legal help
The Everyone Legal Clinic offers low-cost legal services to all British Columbians. The clinic, run by Access Pro Bono, operates on a fixed-fee basis and provides help for a range of legal issues. Examples include bringing a human rights complaint, reviewing a contract, and making a will. You book an initial meeting with a clinician to see how they can help you. They’ll provide you with a quote, outlining the scope and fee for the services you need. You may end up paying less than the quoted amount, but you’ll never pay more.
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.
Access Pro Bono’s Everyone Legal Clinic
Unbundled 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 powers of attorney, representation agreements, and most types of wills. They also notarize signatures on documents.
Legal advocates provide free support, advocacy and information to people who are on a low income or marginalized and are experiencing legal problems. Advocates usually work out of community agencies, such as community service centres, churches or women's centres.
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
University of Victoria Law Centre
Finding a lawyer or notary
Lawyer Referral Service
BC Legal Directory