Sources of Legal Assistance in Alberta

What is Dial-A-Law?

Dial-A-Law is a telephone service of over 170 tapes providing basic information about the law and the legal system. The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Operator assistance is available Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The Dial-A-Law topics provide general information on legal subject matters such as:

  • consumer law
  • criminal law
  • employment law
  • family law
  • real estate law
  • wills and estate law
  • youth and the law

To use Dial-A-Law call 403-234-9022 (in Calgary) or 1-800-332-1091 (toll-free anywhere in Alberta).

A recorded voice will give you instructions on how to use the service.

Transcripts of the Dial-A-Law series may be purchased by contacting Calgary Legal Guidance at 403-234-9266 or [email protected].

What is Lawyer Referral?

The Lawyer Referral Service is a program operated by the Law Society of Alberta to assist people in finding a lawyer who will provide them with the legal services they require. It is an information service and is not connected with Legal Aid — nor does it provide any form of financially subsidized legal service.

A member of the public may contact a Lawyer Referral Operator by dialing

1-800-661-1095 (toll free from anywhere in Alberta) or 403-228-1722 (in Calgary)

After being advised of the nature of the problem or the area of law of concern, the Lawyer Referral Operator will give the names and telephone numbers of three lawyers practising in the applicable field of law. The member of the public can then make an appointment with one, two, or all three of those lawyers, advising that they were referred by Lawyer Referral.

There is no charge for the first half-hour interview, after which the member of the public can decide whether or not to engage the lawyer at the full fee rates, and the lawyer can decide whether to accept the engagement.

What is Legal Aid?

Legal Aid Alberta appoints lawyers for eligible persons. There are income and asset guidelines to decide who can receive Legal Aid assistance.

Any services involving full representation by a lawyer are NOT free; however, they are less costly than hiring a lawyer on a private basis. Clients are required to agree to repay the costs of their legal representation. Payment plans can be arranged in amounts that accommodate the financial situation of the client.

Types of legal cases that can be covered (subject to approval):

  • Serious criminal charges (Indictable Offences)
  • Less serious criminal charges where conviction could lead to loss of employment or a jail term (Summary Offences, e.g., municipal bylaws and minor Criminal Code or provincial statute offences)
  • Charges laid under the Youth Criminal Justice Act
  • Child welfare matters
  • Maintenance/custody issues
  • Divorce or other family matters
  • Immigration and refugee issues

If you know you have a legal problem, call your nearest Legal Services Centre to see if you qualify. When uncertain, apply! A Legal Aid Officer will discuss the problem with you and, if appropriate, may suggest the services of another agency. Legal Aid Officers make regular visits to remand centres, correctional and psychiatric institutions and youth facilities. If you are in one of these institutions, arrange with the staff of the institution to see a Legal Aid Officer to complete an application.

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This page was last updated in February 2016.

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