Frequently Asked Questions
If you are concerned about something a lawyer has done (or not done), you should contact the Complaints Resolution Department of the Law Society of Manitoba. Before sending them a formal complaint, consider phoning them first. They may be able to help you work things out. The Complaints Resolution Department can be reached at (204) 942-5571, or toll-free at 1-855-942-5571.
If you want to proceed with a formal complaint, you must fill out a Complaint Help Form. You must sign the form. You can find a copy of the form here: https://lawsociety.mb.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Complaint_Help_Form.pdf. You can also call the Law Society by phone to request a copy of the form.
When filling out the form, be sure to include:
Send the completed form and any additional documents to:
There is an appeal available to the Complaints Commissioner, a non-lawyer who is independent of the Law Society of Manitoba. The Complaints Commissioner can review the decision.
The Complaints Review Commissioner has two choices:
Legal fees are difficult to estimate. Lawyers often charge by the amount of time spent on a case. Many lawyers charge an hourly rate, which may depend on the experience of the individual lawyer. There is no standard rate for all lawyers. In property matters, lawyers may arrange fees based on the value of the property involved.
In your first meeting with a lawyer, you should discuss fees and methods of payment. If your case is likely to be uncontested, such as in a real estate, wills and estates, or some simple divorce matters, the lawyer may charge a flat rate. Ask for a retainer agreement which will make clear what you have to pay.
There is no set amount so it is best to contact a few lawyers and compare rates.
You may request an itemized bill from your lawyer. If you are having difficulty obtaining this, you can contact the Law Society of Manitoba for assistance.
The Law Society of Manitoba offers a fee arbitration program. Both you and the lawyer must agree to arbitration. The Law Society will arrange for a review of the statement of account by a neutral arbitrator or panel of three arbitrators. There is no charge for this review. Both you and the lawyer will be at the meeting. The review process is informal. You do not need a lawyer. The arbitrator will either reduce the fee or not. Contact the Law Society Fee Arbitration Coordinator by phone at (204) 926-2048 or by email at for further information or to request an arbitration.
Another option is to have the fee assessed by an officer of the Court of Queen’s Bench. You do not need your lawyer’s agreement to have the fee assessed. To arrange for an assessment call (204) 945-0344 or email . You should act quickly if you want an assessment. You only have up to 6 months after you receive the lawyer’s final statement of account to apply.
In this case, you can apply to the Court of Queen’s bench for an assessment of your lawyer fees. You need to file a Form 71A Notice of Application for Assessment of Lawyer’s Bill and a Form 4D Affidavit. The forms are available on-line here: http://web2.gov.mb.ca/laws/rules/forms_e.php.
Once completed, the forms must be filed at the Court of Queen’s Bench (in Winnipeg, the Law Courts Building at 408 York Ave.).
If you qualify, Legal Aid can assist with:
Legal Aid makes a decision by looking at your financial situation and the type of legal case that you have. Your financial situation includes how much money you make, how many people are in your family, and what assets and debts you have. If you want a separation or divorce, Legal Aid will look at your income separate from your partner’s income.
If you work as an employee, you should include a pay stub or letter from your employer. This letter should state where you work, the date you started, and your current salary. For other sources of income, you should include additional documentation:
There is usually a $25 fee for applying to Legal Aid. In certain circumstance, such as if you are on social assistance (EIA), the fee can be waived.
Legal Aid may still appoint a lawyer for you but they may require you to sign a direction to pay. This means that if you later get a settlement of your assets, you will have to pay back Legal Aid with some of this money. If you own property, Legal Aid may wish to place a lien on that property. A lien means that fees will be paid if and when the property is dealt with in the future.
Legal Aid may pay for your legal costs in full, or if you are financially able to pay for your legal fees at Legal Aid rates, they may provide services through the Agreement to Pay (ATP) program. The ATP program will require you to make an initial payment as well as interest-free monthly payments until your fees are paid. As long as you keep making your monthly payments, Legal Aid will continue to pay your lawyer fees.
For more information, visit https://www.legalaid.mb.ca/financial-rules/paying-for-legal-aid/.
If you have a good reason for the change Legal Aid will usually allow one change of lawyer. Any requests for an additional change of counsel are only granted in exceptional circumstances.
If you are dealing with a lawyer in private practice and there is not enough time to wait for the Legal Aid Certificate, your lawyer can call Legal Aid, explain the problem and get emergency approval right away if you qualify. If you don’t have a lawyer and can’t afford one, call Legal Aid and tell them that you have an urgent problem. Legal Aid can often appoint a lawyer for you quickly in emergency situations.
In Winnipeg, you can apply for Legal Aid at their Application Centre at 100 – 287 Broadway Ave. The hours are:
Legal Aid also has offices outside of Winnipeg you can contact by phone:
Other Legal Aid offices:
Legal Aid has lawyers on call 24 hours a day. If you have been arrested, let the police know you wish to speak with a Legal Aid lawyer and they will put you in touch.
It usually takes about 10 business days for Legal Aid to process your application. To check on the status of your application you can contact the Application Centre where you applied:
Yes, you can appeal the decision to the Executive Director. An appeal form will be sent to you with the Notice of Rejection. The appeal must be submitted within 30 days of when you receive the Notice of Rejection in the mail. The appeal form should be sent to:
Say why you think the decision was wrong. The Executive Director will consider your reasons and will review your file. He will either approve Legal Aid or not. If he refuses your appeal, he will send you a letter telling you why. The Executive Director will make a decision on your appeal within 5 working days, unless he needs further information from you.
If the Executive Director refuses your appeal, you can appeal his decision to Legal Aid’s Appeal Committee. You can appeal by filling in the form that came with the Executive Director’s refusal, or, by writing a letter and sending it to:
In your Appeal letter, say why you think the decision was wrong. The Appeal Committee will consider your reasons and will review your file. The Appeal Committee will then make its decision. You will receive a letter notifying you about the Appeal Committee’s decision. The Appeal Committee’s decision is final. There are no further appeals.