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Questions - The Right Legal Professional


FAMILY MATTERS
  1. Who should you consult if you are separating or getting a divorce?
  2. What should you do if you can’t afford a lawyer?
TRAFFIC TICKETS, SMALL CLAIMS COURT AND MINOR CRIMINAL MATTERS
  1. Who can assist you if you have a traffic ticket?
  2. You have been charged with a criminal offence. Who can represent you?
  3. What should you do if you can’t afford a lawyer to represent you on criminal charges?
  4. Who should you consult for help in Small Claims Court?
  5. Who should you consult if you have a matter before the Landlord and Tenant Board, or other tribunal?
REAL ESTATE, WILLS AND POWERS OF ATTORNEY
  1. Who should you consult if you are planning to buy or sell a home or a business?
  2. Who can assist you in preparing a will or power of attorney?
CAR ACCIDENTS AND LAWSUITS
  1. Who should you consult if you’ve been injured in a car accident?
  2. Who should be consulted if you are suing someone or being sued?
FINDING A LICENSED LAWYER OR PARALEGAL
  1. How do you find a licensed lawyer or paralegal?
  2. How much does it cost to hire a lawyer or paralegal?
CHOOSING A LEGAL PROFESSIONAL
  1. What are the general guidelines for choosing a legal professional?

FAMILY MATTERS
  1. Who should you consult if you are separating or getting a divorce?

    LAWYER. You need to consult a lawyer for all issues relating to family law, so that you are fully aware of your rights and obligations. A lawyer will guide you through the process and prepare all the necessary documents, such as separation agreements and those relating to contested or uncontested divorces.

    Your lawyer will work with you on issues of child custody, access matters, as well as spousal and child support, and the division and equalization of property.

    Paralegals are not permitted to give advice about family matters or represent anyone in Family Court.



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  2. What should you do if you can’t afford a lawyer?

    If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may be entitled to assistance from Legal Aid Ontario (LAO). As well, Family Law Information Centres are located in every family court location and provide free information and help about issues related to separation, divorce and other family law matters.

    If you don't qualify for legal aid, you may be able to obtain help from duty counsel - lawyers assigned to provide assistance in the courtroom to people who need it. In family courts, duty counsel can give advice, prepare and review documents, represent people on some motions and hearings, and assist with settlement negotiations.



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TRAFFIC TICKETS, SMALL CLAIMS COURT AND MINOR CRIMINAL MATTERS
  1. Who can assist you if you have a traffic ticket?

    LAWYER OR PARALEGAL. A lawyer or a paralegal can represent you in the Ontario Court of Justice under the Provincial Offences Act for charges like speeding or trespassing. They can also represent you in matters relating to the:

    • Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act
    • Liquor Licence Act
    • Environmental Protection Act
    • Occupational Health and Safety Act
    • Blind Persons Rights Act
    • Municipal by-laws


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  2. You have been charged with a criminal offence. Who can represent you?

    LAWYER OR PARALEGAL.

    Lawyers or paralegals can represent you in the Ontario Court of Justice if you are charged with a minor criminal offence, as long as the maximum term of imprisonment for the offence is not more than six months. Examples of this type of offence include causing a disturbance and harassing phone calls. They also include theft under $5,000, and assault and mischief to private property if the Crown Attorney elects to proceed by way of summary conviction, which is a less serious method of proceeding.

    Lawyers can represent you on any criminal matter and must represent you if the offence has a maximum penalty of more than six months' imprisonment.



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  3. What should you do if you can’t afford a lawyer to represent you on criminal charges?

    You may be entitled to assistance from Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) if you cannot afford a lawyer.

    If you do not qualify for legal aid, you may be able to obtain assistance from duty counsel - lawyers assigned to criminal courts to help people who do not have their own lawyer. Duty counsel can assist you to ask for bail or seek an adjournment. They can also advise you about the process and about pleading guilty or not guilty.



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  4. Who should you consult for help in Small Claims Court?

    LAWER OR PARALEGAL.

    A lawyer or paralegal can help with all matters in Small Claims Court.



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  5. Who should you consult if you have a matter before the Landlord and Tenant Board, or other tribunal?

    LAWYER OR PARALEGAL. Either can assist you before most of the tribunals that have been established by the provincial and federal governments. The following are examples of tribunals:

    • Landlord and Tenant Board (for rent disputes)
    • Financial Services Commission of Ontario (for Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule claims - car accidents)
    • Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (for on-the-job associated injuries)
    • Social Benefits Tribunal (if you are entitled to government assistance through programs like the Ontario Disability Support Program)
    • Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.


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REAL ESTATE, WILLS AND POWERS OF ATTORNEY
  1. Who should you consult if you are planning to buy or sell a home or a business?

    LAWYER.

    Lawyers handle all real estate transactions, including title searches, document preparation and registration, and the closing of the transaction.



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  2. Who can assist you in preparing a will or power of attorney?

    LAWYER.

    A lawyer will work with you to ensure that your wishes regarding the distribution of your estate are protected. You may wish to have a lawyer help you prepare a  power of attorney. This document enables you to appoint a trusted loved one or friend to make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.



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CAR ACCIDENTS AND LAWSUITS
  1. Who should you consult if you’ve been injured in a car accident?

    LAWYER OR PARALEGAL.

    Either can assist you with a Statutory Accident Benefits (SABS) claim, such as income replacement or medical expenses (chiropractic or physiotherapy treatments, for example). However, you should consult a lawyer if you have been seriously injured.



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  2. Who should be consulted if you are suing someone or being sued?

    LAWYER OR PARALEGAL.

    If you have a case in Small Claims Court, a lawyer or paralegal can represent you. For any civil litigation matter in the Superior Court of Justice, you will need a lawyer to represent you.



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FINDING A LICENSED LAWYER OR PARALEGAL
  1. How do you find a licensed lawyer or paralegal?

    Visit the Law Society's online Lawyer and Paralegal Directory. This directory is searchable by city, name or postal code. Family members, friends or co-workers are also excellent sources for recommending good legal help. Alternatively, you can search the Yellow Pages of the telephone book.

    The Law Society also provides the Law Society Referral Service. The LSRS will give you the name of a lawyer or paralegal within or near your community, who will provide a free consultation of up to 30 minutes to help you determine your rights and options.

    The Law Society also provides a Directory of Certified Specialists - lawyers who have met established standards of experience and knowledge in one or more areas of law.



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  2. How much does it cost to hire a lawyer or paralegal?

    Costs vary from lawyer to lawyer and from paralegal to paralegal. The Law Society does not set client fees for lawyers or paralegals. It is up to the lawyer or paralegal to set fees at their own discretion, based on the services they provide.

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CHOOSING A LEGAL PROFESSIONAL
  1. What are the general guidelines for choosing a legal professional?

    • Call a few different professionals and ask them if they will take your case.
    • Ask them how much they charge, either per hour, or per case.
    • Book a time to meet with them.
    • Ask them about their experiences with your type of case.
    • Ask them to estimate how much their services will cost for handling your case.  
    • Ask whether you will be billed on a monthly basis or at the end of your case.
    • Ask if you will have to pay for anything else above and beyond their fees.  

    Contact Us

    If you have further questions, please call the Law Society Client Service Centre.



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