Pro Bono Ontario believes that everyone deserves meaningful access to justice, and we are committed to providing dependable, low-barrier assistance to people with civil, non-family legal needs. In 2017, PBO launched its province-wide Free Legal Advice Hotline, which provides legal triage and short-term legal services (summary legal advice and help with documents) over the phone. To date, the Hotline has answered more than 151,000 calls, with 31,137 answered in 2023 alone.

While the model is a success, it has also forced PBO to confront issues that are not within our ability alone to address:

We do not have the capacity to handle our current call volume – we can only answer 1/3 of the calls that come in.

  • While people can call back as needed to move their issues towards resolution, we need new ideas and partners to help the 28% of clients whose issues are too complex (or who have legal problems outside the scope of our services).
  • Ontarians have trouble navigating civil legal services and connecting with organizations that can help them.
  • We believe that there is an opportunity to work collaboratively with others in the sector to improve inter-agency coordination and collaboration around intake to reduce barriers to service and increase capacity to provide more in-depth services to people with legal needs.

As a first step, PBO and the National Self Represented Litigants’ Project (NSRLP) retained Tim Roberts & Associates Consulting to conduct research to explore our clients’ experiences and recommend improvements. We are pleased to present our findings in our report, Gateways to Justice: Administrative and Operational Challenges to Finding the Right Service Provider for Legal Assistance in Ontario.

Please click on the image to the right to read and download the report.