What we do

Our clinic provides a variety of services including legal advice & referrals, legal representation, public legal education, community development and law reform. We provide service to individuals, groups and communities. Our intent with all advocacy efforts is to bring about change that will impact the entire community.

Areas of Law we deal with

Financial Eligibility

We represent financially eligible individuals and sometimes groups in the areas of law listed above. Our staff asks about income and assets to determine your eligibility.  Our services are free.

Clients, where able, may be asked to pay for out of pocket legal disbursements such as medical reports and court filing fees.

Advice & Referrals

We give free legal advice when you call us or walk into our office, in the areas of law listed above. We normally do not ask income information when giving advice. Sometimes we will need to make an appointment for you with a member of staff to talk about your concerns.

Call us or click Apply for Service to send us an online application. We try to answer your questions the same day you contact us although it may be up to 24-48 hours..

If you contact us about a legal problem that we cannot help with, we will send you to the appropriate place to get help. This is called a referral. For referrals and information on other services and community resources in Hamilton call 211. It is a free service.

211 is an easy-to remember three digit phone number providing free, confidential access to information about the full range of non emergency community, social, health and government services in the community.


We represent people at hearings before a number of tribunals including:

  • The Landlord and Tenant Board
  • The Social Benefits Tribunal (for Ontario Works and IN LIMITED CASES before the ODSP)
  • The Workplace Safety & Insurance Board and Appeals Tribunal
  • The Board of Referees and Umpire (for employment insurance appeals)
  • The Review Tribunal and Pension Appeals Board (for CPP)
  • The Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.

We also appear in provincial and federal appeal courts for these matters. You must be financially eligible for this service.

Public Legal Education

We’re available to speak to client groups and agency staff about our areas of practice and advocacy work. We encourage people to contact us to discuss their needs. We are happy to tailor presentations to the audience. We also produce legal education materials such as fact sheets, advocacy articles, power point presentations and information on this web site.

New public legal education initiatives are frequently being identified.  Some examples of our public legal education initiatives include: working with the Hamilton Tenant Outreach and Information Project to broaden its community development scope; working with the Hamilton District Injured Workers Group in conducting advice clinics; and implementing the “Discrimination Is Against The Law” human rights project.

Please contact us if you would like us to speak with your group.

For more information on community legal education publications see Community Legal Education Ontario under Getting Other Legal Help in Hamilton.

Community Development

An important part of our work is community development. Two members of staff are dedicated to working with community groups and partners to improve life in Hamilton. We assist groups to enforce their legal rights by organizing for a common cause. We often work with tenants to start a tenants’ association to deal with repair or rent issues. We also belong to networks, especially those that help tenants like the Coalition for Residential Care Facilities and Solutions to Housing Action Committee (SHAC). A focus of this work is to combat poverty, by working with community to improve housing conditions and increase income for all.

We encourage you to contact us to talk about how we can collaborate to tackle issues important to Hamilton. Please look to see what we are involved in by checking out Make Change on this site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and our Community Development Blog.

Law Reform

Often there is a need to change laws, regulations, policies and practices that are unfair and penalize and/or discriminate against members of the community. Our law reform efforts include written and oral submissions to governments of all levels, legal challenges and lobbying/education campaigns conducted through community partners.

We have been working with the community to lobby for an effective provincial long term affordable housing strategy and, at the local level, for better enforcement of licensing by-laws and regulations.  Please contact us to talk about how we can collaborate on issues important to Hamilton.

What we do not do

We do not do criminal, family or immigration law. This work is handled by Private Bar lawyers on legal aid certificates. More information on the Legal Aid Certificate Program is found in Getting Other Legal Help in Hamilton


If You Are Dissatisfied With Our Services
You Have A Right To Complain

Our goal is to provide service that satisfies our clients.

We hope that your experience with our community legal clinic has been a positive one.  If you are unhappy with the service you have received at the clinic, you can make a complaint:

• Talk directly with the person who has been serving you;
• Write to the Executive Director c/o the clinic at the above address;
• Ask to speak to the Executive Director, Hugh Tye;
• If the complaint is about the Executive Director, write to the attention of the Chair of the Board of Directors c/o the clinic at the above address, marked “Personal and Confidential”;
• If you are not a client or former client, your complaint should be made in writing to the attention of the Executive Director c/o the clinic at the above address.

If your complaint is not resolved by clinic staff or the Executive Director, the clinic Board will investigate the complaint and give you a chance to meet with members of the Board in person to discuss your complaint.  You may be asked to appear before the Board’s Complaints Committee.

The Board will provide you with a written decision which will either accept or deny the complaint.

If you are unhappy with the decision of the Board of Directors you can ask the clinic to forward the complaint to the Complaints Office of Legal Aid Ontario.

Complaints Office, Legal Aid Ontario
Suite 200-40 Dundas Street West
Toronto, Ontario, M5G 2C2
1-800-668-8258  Fax: (416) 204-4704

The clinic will not provide confidential information about a clinic client or former client to the clinic Board or Legal Aid Ontario unless that person agrees to the information being provided. This does not apply to information about financial eligibility. This does not apply to non-clients.

If a Consent Form For A Client Complaint is not signed, the complaint shall be considered abandoned.

The above information is a summary only. You can obtain a copy of the complete Complaints Policy from any staff person at the clinic.