Difference between Legal Aid & Legal Clinics
Many people get confused and don’t know who to call
when they have a legal problem except to know they want “legal aid.”
There are two main types of services funded by Legal Aid in most
communities. They offer fairly distinct types of help.
Legal Aid generally
helps people who need a lawyer in a criminal or family law matter.
They do this by:
issuing legal aid
certificates to use private bar lawyers for help and
information and advice clinics in areas of law that the legal
clinic usually does not assist in
providing duty counsel in most courts
More specific information about local Legal Aid
funded services is contained in our Referrals section.
Legal clinics like ours on the other
hand, focus on poverty law problems as described elsewhere on this
site. Our traditional legal services range from simple
referrals, to providing information, to giving specific advice, to
providing self-help, to advocacy in emergency situations, or to
representation before courts and tribunals. We also have a
special mandate to do community development work. We are also
expected to do law reform work and take that obligation very
The Legal Clinic System
Our clinic is just
one of 80 clinics in Ontario.
Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario (ACLCO) has
information booklet (PDF, 11 pgs) explaining what is a community
You can also view a
paper by the ACLCO (PDF format, 11 pages) entitled "Critical
Characteristics of Community Legal Aid Clinics in Ontario"
explaining the special characteristics of legal clinics in Ontario.
A more detailed
discussion of legal clinics in Ontario is found in the report, "Poverty
Law: A Case Study prepared for Legal Aid Review" (PDF, 65 pgs),
which was prepared by York University Professor Janet Mosher for the
Review of Legal Aid June 20, 1997.
Professor Mary Jane Mossman's remarks, given at our 35th
Anniversary event in Belleville on November 10, 2015 and her 1983
Legal Clinics in Ontario."
Papers by Michele
Leering, CALC Executive Director/Lawyer:
Working with Legal Aid Ontario Partners to Improve Coordination
Between Our Services
Our clinic services are confused with
the Legal Aid Area Office and their services (which are primarily
about issuing legal aid certificates and providing advice and duty
counsel at family and criminal courts) are confused with ours.
In an effort to keep our services as streamlined as possible, we
meet several times a year with our colleagues at the Belleville,
Napanee and Kingston Legal Aid Area Offices, Queen's Student Legal
Aid and the Rural Services clinics to problem solve and improve
services. We've developed Legal
Aid Comparison charts for Hastings, Prince Edward, Lennox
and Addington and Frontenac counties for staff use that sets out
specifically which services are offered by which office. We also
joint brochure for clients about Lennox and Addington services.
In addition to our local work, staff also work with
our legal clinic colleagues in other regions on a number of national
and provincial initiatives. These initiatives are intended to
increase the capacity of the legal clinic system and poverty law
advocates to work collaboratively, effectively, efficiently and
creatively on the challenges that we face in increasing "access to
justice" for people living on a low income or in poverty, and
disadvantaged groups. Examples of some of our projects are:
We also sit on several Advisory Committees for Legal