In Canada, there is an important difference between legal advice and legal help. There are many services and resources that provide free legal help.
To start, if you have legal questions, the Ask JES service available on this website provides free answers to legal questions. You can call, chat live or text your question using the information in the green column on the right. Ask JES does not provide legal advice, but they can help you understand your legal issue and connect you with information and referrals to assist you.
Only lawyers can provide legal advice. Free legal advice is provided by Legal Aid BC, Access Pro Bono and BC Advocates. If you require legal advice, you can contact the BC Lawyer Referral Service for a free 30-minute consultation with a lawyer. Depending on your income and what your legal issue is, you may qualify to get a free lawyer through Legal Aid BC. Generally, Legal Aid lawyers are available for criminal matters and family law matters that involve violence. Legal Aid is not available for civil law issues like: housing, employment, lawsuits, etc. See “How do I get legal aid?” to find out if you qualify.
In addition, Access Pro Bono provides a series of free legal clinic that may provide you with access to a lawyer. Many courthouses also have duty counsel present to provide on-the-spot legal advice. You can contact your local courthouse to see when duty counsel might be available. There could be restrictions regarding what duty counsel can assist you with.
A legal advocate is someone who is trained to help people with a range of legal issues – but they are not lawyers. Advocates work primarily with economically challenged individuals. Advocates commonly provide services in these areas of law: Employment Assistance, Disability Assistance, Social Assistance, Rental Issues, Elder Care, etc. To find an advocate in your area, search the PovNET directory.