An Overview of Legal Aid

According to law, all Canadians have an equal right to fair legal representation–regardless of their status. Legal services come at a cost and can be unaffordable to the financially challenged. The government continues to promote impartial justice to Canadians through various initiatives, such as providing legal aid.

Getting fair justice can be challenging for the less privileged in society, mainly when one of the parties in a case is wealthy. It’s common knowledge that money can hinder justice through bribery. Fortunately, you can contact criminal lawyers in Toronto, ON, or a legal aid lawyer in Toronto if you face a criminal charge, even if you cannot afford legal services.

Role of Legal Aid Providers

An excellent legal aid system should educate society on its legal right to legal aid. The government must also adopt measures to improve the delivery of legal aid, such as fair compensation (good salaries) for legal aid providers. Outside of that, providing justice to Canadians through legal aid will not be achieved.

The role of legal aid providers is to safeguard the interests and uphold their clients’ rights in the following ways:

  • Ensuring the interests of their clients are upheld and avoiding discrimination based on age, gender, ethnicity, disability status, sexual orientation, and more;
  • Ensuring clients understand their legal rights;
  • Ensuring that their client’s human rights are not violated and  that they are treated with dignity, respect, and according to the law;
  • Evaluating clients’ legal situations and recommending the available legal solutions;
  • Ensuring clients’ decisions are respected;
  • Challenge unfair treatment of their clients in a wise way to avoid retaliation;
  • Ensuring clients receive legal aid until their cases are concluded–including appeals.

Drawbacks of the Legal Aid System

The common drawbacks of the legal aid system include:

  1. Lack of Awareness

Most people are not aware that they receive legal aid if they cannot afford to hire a lawyer. This has been a significant drawback in ensuring justice is available to everybody. In collaboration with legal aid providers, the government should initiate a major campaign to increase awareness.

  1. The Perception that Free Services are Inferior

There’s a common perception that free services are not quality. Also, the government is often accused of providing poor legal aid services– most complaints involve:

  • Little and impractical legal advice;
  • A complicated application process;
  • High rate of unsuccessful applications;
  • Eligibility for legal aid is limited to specific groups of people–limiting some genuine cases.
  1. Lack of Personnel

The success of the legal aid system has been hampered by a lack of enough legal aid providers to help the people who qualify for this service. Also, the government should ensure that legal professionals are well paid so that they volunteer to offer their services freely to the needy without straining.

Legal aid ensures justice is not denied to anyone because of financial challenges. Besides the government-led legal aid system, some private attorneys offer legal assistance.

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