Donna Tiqui-Shebib

Barrister, Solicitor & Notary Public


HOME        ABOUT US        CONTACT US        CURRENT EVENTS         FAQs          LINKS          LOCATION          PRACTICE AREAS          RESOURCES

How much will my legal matter cost? 


Where can I apply for legal aid?


How do I know if I qualify for legal aid?


Who is tested?

How do you decide if I'm eligible?

What is the asset test?


What is the income test?

What expenses are considered?

What type of decisions can be made?

What if I disagree with the decision?





Q. How much will my legal matter cost? 

A.  Donna Tiqui-Shebib is a member of the Lawyer Referral Service offered by the Law Society of Upper Canada.  As a member of this service, she provides a free consultation by phone or in person of up to 30 minutes. This initial consultation allows you to meet with her, discuss your problem, and find out what your alternatives are. If you require legal services, she will do her best to explain them to you, estimate what they will cost, and how long they will take.  


In most cases, Donna Tiqui-Shebib will require a retainer before commencing work on your behalf, which amount is paid into trust.  She will then draw cheques on the retainer to pay expenses made on your behalf and her fees.  These  expenses may include: commencing an application in court, postage, photocopying of documents, and the servicing of originating documents.  The amount of retainer required largely depends on the complexity of your legal matter.  For instance, an uncontested divorce will be less complicated and therefore, less costly, than one in which either or both parties have not come to an agreement on child support or property division.  Donna Tiqui-Shebib strives to resolve matters efficiently and competently so that unnecessary expenses are avoided.


Q. Where can I apply for legal aid?

A.  If you require financial assistance for your legal matter, you are encouraged to visit and file an application for financial assistance at your nearest Legal Aid Ontario office.  If you qualify, and are deemed financially eligible, you will be granted a legal aid certificate. The Legal Aid Certificate Program allows clients to receive legal services from their choice of lawyer and are available to clients for a variety of legal problems such as criminal, family, immigration and some civil law matters.   Hamilton residents, please consult:


Legal Aid Office

110 King Street West, Suite 760, Hamilton, Ontario L8P 4S6

Telephone: (905) 528-0134   Fax: (905) 528-1857

Toll Free: 1-877-449-4003




Q. How do I know if I qualify for legal aid?

A. If you need legal help and you have little or no money, Legal Aid may be able to help you pay for a lawyer. To apply for legal aid you must do a financial eligibility test to see if you qualify.


Q.  Who is tested?
The Legal Aid staff will ask you questions to find out how much money you have and to decide if you have enough money to pay for your own lawyer. Legal Aid must do a financial test for you, your spouse, common-law partner or same-sex partner, any of your dependant children. Legal Aid Ontario sets the financial guidelines.


Q.  How do you decide if I'm eligible?
The financial test has two parts: the asset test and the income test. The Legal Aid staff first determines if you have enough money/assets available to pay your lawyer without Legal Aid's help. Then, we look at your monthly income and expenses to determine if you have any money left over that could be used to pay for your legal fees.


Q.  What is the asset test?
Legal Aid looks at all your assets, such as cash, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, and RRSPs to see if you can pay for all your legal fees. We also include anything that you can sell or easily convert into cash. Depending on your situation, you may be expected to use some of your assets to help pay for legal fees.

We also look at other assets, such as houses and property. Normally if you own a house or property, you are expected to borrow against it to pay for legal fees. If you cannot borrow against it, we will ask you to agree to sign a lien against the property.

You must provide proof of your assets.


Q.  What is the income test?
Legal Aid will ask you to give information about all of your sources of income, for your dependant children, your spouse, common-law spouse or same-sex partner.

Income includes worker's compensation, employment income, employment insurance, pensions, social assistance, commissions, self-employed earnings, child tax benefits, rental income, etc.

To determine your net income, we deduct any payroll deductions, day care costs and child support payments from your gross income.

If you are on social assistance, you are usually eligible for legal aid, depending on your available assets. You may be eligible for legal aid without a detailed test if your net income is:






family size = 1



Under $18,000

family size = 2

$1,500 - $2,249


$18,000 - $26,999

family size = 3



$27,000 - $30,999

family size = 4

$2,582 - 3082



family size = 5+




family size = 6+



Over $43,000


If your income is more than these amounts, you need to complete a more detailed test. You may qualify for free legal aid, you may be asked to help pay for some of your legal fees, or you may be refused legal aid.

You must prove your sources of income to Legal Aid through pay slips, social assistance, pension income, EI or WSIB statements, and financial statements if you are self-employed.


Q.  What expenses are considered?
Legal Aid allows a set amount of money for your monthly expenses based on the size of your family and type of shelter you have. We include things like rent or mortgage, food, clothing, transportation, telephone, and personal expenses.

We do not include rent or mortgage payments or other expenses that are over our set allowances. We may consider other expenses, if it's needed for health or well-being.

You may have to show proof of your expenses, such as rent receipts, utility bills and debt payments.


Q.  What type of decisions can be made?
After the financial test is done, Legal Aid can calculate how much money you have available to pay for a lawyer. Based on our policies, you may receive free legal aid, you may have to repay all or some of the legal fees, or you may be refused legal aid.

If you have income and/or assets left over equal to the cost of hiring a private lawyer, your application for legal aid will be refused.


Q.  What if I disagree with the decision?
If Legal Aid asks you to contribute some money to your legal fees and you don't feel you can afford to, or if you are refused legal aid, you can appeal the decision to the Area Committee. You can also reapply if there is a change in your financial circumstances.