I Need Legal Help

Do I Qualify?

To qualify for our services, you must:

  1. Meet our financial eligibility guidelines [PDF]
  2. Have a legal issue in an area of law covered by our clinic:

Criminal Law

We represent people who have been charged with certain criminal, provincial, and municipal offences. The offence(s) must be before a court located in London, Ontario. We do not provide representation on matters heard outside of London.

Criminal Offences

We represent people charged with most summary conviction Criminal Code and Controlled Substances Act offences. A summary conviction offence is one where the maximum penalty is a $5,000 fine and/or a term of imprisonment of 6 months. We are not able to represent those charged with what is commonly called a “super” summary conviction offence (the maximum penalty is greater than regular summary conviction offences). Please see the list below of the most common “super” summary offences. We are also not able to represent those charged with an indictable offence.

Provincial Offences

We represent people charged with certain provincial offences. These offences are usually under the Highway Traffic Act, Trespass to Property Act, and the Liquor Licence Act. Because of the high demand for our service we can only provide representation on the most serious provincial offences.

Municipal Offences

We represent people charged with municipal offences, which are offences typically under a City of London By-Law. Because of the high demand for our service, we can only provide representation on the most serious municipal offences.

Note: The following are some common “super” summary charges for which we cannot provide representation:

Criminal Code Section Offence
s. 95 Possession of prohibited or restricted firearm
s. 151 Sexual interference
s. 152 Invitation to sexual touching
s. 153 Sexual exploitation
s. 253 (1)(a)(b) Impaired driving, over .08, fair or refusal to provide breathalyzer
s. 264.1 (1)(a) Uttering death threats or threaten bodily harm
s. 267 Assault with a weapon or assault causing bodily harm
s. 271 Sexual assault
s. 279 (2) Forcible confinement
s. 733.1 Failure to comply with a probation order

Housing / Landlord and Tenant

CLS represents tenants (under the Residential Tenancies Act) in matters such as:

  • Rent disputes or unpaid rent
  • Non-repair by a landlord
  • Harassment or improper entry by a landlord
  • Evictions
  • Any other disputes between residential tenants and landlords.

Hearings for these disputes are held either in the Landlord and Tenant Board or in the Small Claims Court.

If you have an appointment at CLS, please bring with you the following:

  • Any notices or letters from your landlord
  • A copy of your lease (if available)
  • Photos of areas needing repair
  • Any other relevant documents.

Small Claims Court

Community Legal Services handles lawsuits worth from $5,000.00 to the maximum limit in Small Claims Court of $25,000.00. We are unable to assist with lawsuits higher than $25,000.00, which must be brought in the Superior Court. We are also unable to assist with lawsuits outside London.

Here are a few examples of the kinds of cases we take to Small Claims Court:

  • Purchase of defective cars
  • Improper repairs to houses or cars
  • Defending claims from creditors
  • Slip and falls
  • Collecting unpaid loans
  • Contracts made with door-to-door sales representatives

Our student caseworkers will draft court documents, argue motions, appear with you at the settlement conference, and handle the trial. Most court cases settle before trial.

When you come for your first appointment, please bring all documents and photos with you, as it will help us assess the strength of your case. If there is visible damage to something (or someone), take photos and bring the photos with you.

It is also helpful if you could provide the names and contact information of any potential witnesses. We may need to speak with them.

If you receive a settlement or a judgment in your favour, it does not necessarily mean you will be paid. We can take steps on your behalf to collect the amount owing through garnishment of wages or bank accounts or the seizure of other assets.

Going from start to finish in Small Claims Court will take some time. It will usually take at minimum 6-9 months, and could take over a year.

Family Law

Law students, under the supervision of a family lawyer, can help you with:

  • Custody and Access
  • Child support
  • Spousal support
  • In some cases: divorce and restraining orders. 

At this time, CLS is not able to assist with issues of child protection (involving the Children’s Aid Society), equalization of net family property, adoptions, or annulments.

If you are experiencing family law issues, CLS may be able to help you. Here are the steps you need to take:

  1. Make sure you meet our financial eligibility guidelines [PDF];
  2. Before you call our office, contact Legal Aid Ontario at 1-800-668-8258 to find out if you qualify for a Legal Aid certificate;
  3. If you are advised you do not qualify for a certificate or it is unclear if you qualify, you can:
    1. Go to the Family Law Information Centre at the Courthouse where you can obtain legal information and consult with duty counsel; or
    2. Call our office to make an appointment.

When you call our office, we will ask you questions over the phone. If your matter seems like one we can address, we will schedule an in-person appointment with you. If you applied for a Legal Aid certificate and were advised you do not qualify, be sure to obtain a refusal notice from Legal Aid Ontario and bring it with you to your appointment.

After this appointment, a lawyer will decide if we can help you.

We may help you regardless of whether court proceedings have started. We offer services ranging from summary advice to representation at trial. Working on your behalf, student caseworkers can:

  • research issues and provide recommendations
  • draft correspondence
  • negotiate settlement of all or some issues
  • draft court documents
  • draft separation agreements

Our family lawyer, supported by the student caseworkers, can:

  • represent you at court and court-related matters, including trial;
  • represent you at mediations or other settlement meetings.

If we are unable to help you with your family law matter, we will help you find the services you need.

Mediation

The Dispute Resolution Centre (DRC) is a not-for-profit organization operated by law students under the supervision of Community Legal Services at Western Law. The DRC provides mediation services to residents of London and Middlesex County who wish to resolve their disputes quickly, efficiently and inexpensively.  Mediation is appropriate for many areas of law and the DRC has helped with all kinds of issues including contract breaches, debts, neighbour disputes, evictions, employment disputes, peace bonds, and many others. 

How does it work?

  1. Contact our office and you will speak with a mediation intern. We will conduct your initial intake and ask you to tell us a little about your problem. Since we need to contact the other party in the dispute, you will need to provide us with the other party’s contact information.
  2. We will contact the other party and let them know you have an interest in mediation. We will explain to them how mediation works and what is involved. Since mediation is a voluntary process, both parties need to agree to mediation before we can continue.
  3. If both parties are willing to try mediation, a mediation intern will arrange a mediation for a time that is convenient for everyone.
  4. A mediation is typically no longer than 3 hours of your time. In most cases, it only takes one meeting to reach a resolution.

Contact Us

drc@uwo.ca | law.uwo.ca/drc

Immigration

For UWO Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Persons Only

Our services are sponsored by the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (SGPS), and are offered to International Students and Postdoctoral workers registered with SGPS. We do not serve any other persons.

At CLS, we offer Immigration assistance with the following permanent residence applications:

  • Spousal Sponsorship
  • Provincial Nominee Program
  • Federal Skilled Worker Program (via Express Entry System)
  • Canadian Experience Class (via Express Entry System)

Those seeking assistance with a permanent residence application are first required to attend a CLS Immigration Group Information (IGI) session.  Sessions are held monthly and potential clients must pre-register online by launching the CLS Scheduler from the Gradnet website.

Wills and Powers of Attorney (POAs)

We provide wills and powers of attorney for low-income seniors and persons with an illness or disability in London-Middlesex.

Wills

  • A will deals with the distribution of a person’s estate after death.
  • You will give instructions for how your will is to be drafted.
  • The will names an executor (also called estate trustee) to carry out the terms of the will after your death.
  • The will contains instructions about who is to inherit your estate, and how your estate is to be distributed to the beneficiaries.

Having a properly drafted and executed will ensures that your wishes for who manages your estate and how your property is distributed are known and followed.

Powers of Attorney

At CLS, our student caseworkers may draft for you a Power of Attorney for Personal Care and/or a Power of Attorney for Property. A power of attorney is effective only during your lifetime. There are two kinds of powers of attorney.

A Power of Attorney for Property allows you to name a person (or people) who can act in your place when dealing with your assets (bank accounts, pensions, investments, house/land, etc). The named person, when acting, could do anything with your property that you could do yourself, except to make a will for you. You can place restrictions or conditions on the ability of your Power of Attorney to act on your behalf. A Power of Attorney for Property is effective immediately unless you state otherwise.

A Power of Attorney for Personal Care allows you to name a person (or people) to help you in areas such as:

  • health care;
  • nutrition;
  • housing;
  • clothing;
  • hygiene; and
  • safety

A Power of Attorney for Personal Care comes into effect only when you are unable to make these decisions for yourself.

Intellectual Property

CLS provides legal opinions for persons or organizations who have a question about the following:

  • Copyright
  • Trademarks
  • Patents

When you come to us with your question, we research the issue and provide you with an opinion letter. We do not register copyrights, trademarks, or patents. 

Student Appeals

CLS handles appeals for Western and Fanshawe College students for academic appeals (failing grade or program withdrawal) or misconduct offences (plagiarism or other academic or personal misconduct).

We are able to represent students only at the final level of appeal. At Western, the final level is the Senate Review Board Academic (SRBA). At Fanshawe, it is the second level appeal.

Both final levels of appeal are in the form of a hearing with witnesses giving evidence.

  1. Make an appointment by calling 519-661-3352.

Your First Meeting

During your first visit here, you will be involved with one of two processes at CLS

  1. If you are only seeking information on a matter, you will be involved in the “summary advice process”.
  2. If your matter needs more attention (i.e. court, trial, demand letter, etc.), you will be involved in the “application process”.
Summary Advice

The law student will fill out a form stating your facts and they will give you some direction on what you can do about your situation and possible a referral to another organization. This information is recorded on the form and you are given a photocopy. All information is approved by one of the CLS Review Lawyers.

Application Process

The law student will fill out an application with the details of your case and all of your financial information. The form is submitted to the Review Lawyer/Director who may determine whether or not you are eligible to obtain further free legal services with our office.

The criteria for acceptance is:

  1. Financial need
  2. Availability of a law student to handle the case
  3. Type of matter

For your first visit, you will be giving only the basic facts regarding your legal issue. If you are accepted as a client, you will often have another appointment during which you can provide a more detailed account of your situation.

You may find out whether you have been accepted while you are in the office. If not, the application process takes anywhere from two days to two weeks. You will be notified by mail or telephone, whether you are accepted or not. If your application is declined, your letter will state the reason for the refusal and you will be referred to another organization.

Please note that students are unable to make decisions on whether or not you will be accepted as a client. This decision is solely that of the Review Lawyer or Director.

Community Legal Services is a teaching clinic and the law students that work on your files are students. As a result we operate differently from a law firm.

The clinic does not accept new clients between semesters or during exams which occur:

  • Early December – Mid-January
  • Mid-April – Mid-May
  • Late August –Late September.