Legal Aid Manitoba
“Our justice system cannot operate fairly and efficiently
without a healthy legal aid system.”
Bradley D. Regehr,
President, Manitoba Bar Association
Justice for all Manitobans
A fair justice system requires lawyers on both sides.
Legal Aid Manitoba (LAM) works to ensure that eligible Manitobans have access to justice, including those who are disadvantaged and facing a well-resourced individual or entity in court—from women fleeing abusive relationships to immigrants facing deportation to same-sex families fighting for inclusion.
Our work contributes to the efficiency of the courts across Manitoba, with positive impacts on the lives of individuals and the overall health of our communities.
The alternative to due process and legal aid assistance is to leave people to represent themselves in the legal system. The dangers of this approach are:
- A clogged court system for everyone as the unrepresented try to navigate through legal complexities
- Errors that could result in wrongful convictions, where someone who is innocent goes to jail
- Errors that could result in the opposite, a stay of proceedings where someone who is guilty walks free because the courts determine that lack of representation will cause an unfair trial
- Innocent people may plead guilty rather than attempting to represent themselves at trial
- Arbitrary powers ceded to those in authority because no one is there to advocate on behalf of a low-income person. The only countries that do not provide due process to accused persons are totalitarian states.
We fund and oversee the delivery of services through the Public Interest Law Centre to help ensure Manitobans are represented in cases that affect groups of people such as human rights, environmental and consumer law cases.
LAM operates at arms length from government and is funded by:
- Province of Manitoba
- Government of Canada
- Manitoba Law Foundation
- Fees paid by clients
Similar programs exist across Canada.
Manitoba uses a mixed system. Roughly half of our cases are handled by lawyers on staff at LAM and the other half are handled by private bar lawyers who are paid a fee for each case.
Staff lawyers at LAM are fully qualified professionals in good standing with The Law Society of Manitoba. Staff lawyers may also supervise a team of paralegals and law students.