Lawyers

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where can I file a complaint about the conduct of a lawyer?

    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:

      • Your name, address and telephone number;
      • The name, law firm name, and address of the lawyer you are complaining about; and
      • Copies (not originals) of any other letters or documents which support your claim.

    Send the completed form and any additional documents to:

      • The Law Society of Manitoba
      • Complaints Resolution Department Paralegal
      • 200 – 260 St. Mary Ave.
      • Winnipeg, Manitoba
      • R3C 0M6

    Alternatively, you may scan all the documents and send them by email to

  • Do I have any options if the Law Society of Manitoba refuses to investigate my complaint?

    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:

      • Dismiss the complaint (which ends the matter), or
      • Direct the Law Society to investigate.

    To request a review by the Complaints Review Commissioner, email the Commissioner at or write to:

      • Complaints Review Commissioner
      • O. Box 2234
      • Winnipeg, MB
      • R3C 3R5
  • If I do not qualify for Legal Aid, what will a private lawyer cost me?

    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.

  • Will fees be agreed to in my first meeting with a lawyer?

    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.

  • What percentage will a lawyer charge on a contingency fee arrangement?

    There is no set amount so it is best to contact a few lawyers and compare rates.

  • I just received my lawyer’s bill and there is no explanation of the charges. Can I ask for clarification?

    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.

  • Is there any way to challenge the lawyer fees I have been charged?

    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.

  • What happens if the lawyer will not agree to arbitration?

    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.).

  • What cases will Legal Aid assist with?

    If you qualify, Legal Aid can assist with:

      • Family issues such as divorce, parenting arrangements, and support
      • Child protection matters
      • Adult and youth criminal matters
      • Disputes involving disability benefits, social assistance, and workers compensation
      • Public interest cases involving poverty, consumer, environmental, Aboriginal, and Charter of Rights challenges.
  • How do I qualify for Legal Aid?

    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.

  • What proof of earnings should I include in my 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:

      • If you are on Employment Insurance (EI):
        • An Employment Insurance Commission stub, or
        • A pension or worker’s compensation stub, statement, or photocopy of your last cheque, or
        • Proof of enrollment in an EI-sponsored training course.
      • If you are receiving assistance (EIA), tell Legal Aid which office serves you.
      • If you are self-employed, include your last income tax return.
  • Is there a charge for the Legal Aid application?

    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.

  • What if I have assets, but no access to them?

    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.

  • Are there different types of financial assistance through Legal Aid?

    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/.

  • Can I ask for a change of lawyers through 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.

  • What happens if I need a lawyer right away through Legal Aid?

    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.

  • How do I contact Legal Aid?

    In Winnipeg, you can apply for Legal Aid at their Application Centre at 100 – 287 Broadway Ave. The hours are:

    • Mondays & Tuesdays – 12:30 to 4:00 pm
    • Wednesdays & Thursdays – 1:30 to 4:00 pm
    • Phone:  (204) 985-8500 or 1-800-261-2960

    Legal Aid also has offices outside of Winnipeg you can contact by phone:

    • Brandon – 1-800-876-7326 or (204) 729-3484
    • Dauphin – 1-877-622-4660 or (204) 622-4666
    • The Pas – 1-855-775-2397 or (204) 627-4837
    • Thompson – 1-855-444-4665 or (204) 677-1224

    Other Legal Aid offices:

    • Public Interest Law Centre
      • 200 – 393 Portage Ave.
      • Winnipeg, MB  R3B 3H6
      • Phone:  (204) 985-8540 or 1-800-261-2960
    • University of Manitoba Community Law Centre
      • Faculty of Law – 101 Robson Hall (basement)
      • University of Manitoba
      • Winnipeg, R3T 2N2
      • Phone:  (204) 985-5206
  • Is there an emergency Legal Aid number if I’ve been arrested?

    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.

  • How do I find out whether my application for Legal Aid has been approved?

    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:

    • Winnipeg: (204) 985-8500 or 1-800-261-2960
    • Brandon: 1-800-876-7326 or (204) 729-3484
    • Dauphin: 1-877-622-4660 or (204) 622-4666
    • The Pas: 1-855-775-2397 or (204) 627-4837
    • Thompson: 1-855-444-4665 or (204) 677-1224
  • Legal Aid turned down my application. Can I appeal?

    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:

    • Executive Director
    • Legal Aid Manitoba
    • 4th Floor – 287 Broadway Ave.
    • Winnipeg MB  R3C 0R9

    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.

  • Can I appeal the decision of the Executive Director of Legal Aid?

    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:

    • Legal Aid Management Council Appeal Committee
    • 4th Floor – 287 Broadway Ave.
    • Winnipeg MB R3C 0R9

    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.