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Hamilton Legal Outreach Project Final Evaluation

April 2, 2019 Hamilton Issues

The Clinic in partnership with Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) started a project in 2014 that was designed to change the way individuals who live with mental health issues and addictions issues receive legal services.

An evaluation of the Hamilton Legal Outreach Project (HLO) was completed recently.

The evaluation report looks at the innovative legal service delivery model and how it worked with community partners.

HLO’s team model included lawyers and a systems navigator from the Clinic and legal staff from LAO.

The traditional legal services model requires people with legal issues to initiate contact with a service provider. Individuals living with mental health and addiction issues are expected to “fit in” to this model. They will also need to navigate complex and confusing court and tribunal processes. Not surprisingly, this approach often fails hard to access/serve clients.

The HLO community-embedded model meets people “where they’re at” by attending different sites and collaborating with community agencies who were already providing support services.

Client and Agency Feedback

HLO improved client outcomes and stability as a result of breaking down silos within legal aid services and between health and social support sectors.

Feedback was extremely positive. In surveys virtually all clients responded that their legal concerns were addressed and they were satisfied with services. The following comment was reflects how the location of the clinics made it easier to get help.

It made a world of difference to be able to come here at a place where I already know and where I come to work with my doctor, physiotherapist, and therapist….. Just coming to see you has already lifted my anxiety. Everybody freaks out about legal issues but when you’re going somewhere familiar, it makes it a lot easier. “

Community Partner Feedback also gathered through surveys was extremely positive as well.


The evaluation concluded that HLO is an effective strategy to meet the unmet legal needs of hard to access/serve clients with mental health/addiction issues.

The project continues and staff look forward to implementing the six recommendations in the evaluation.

You can read the full evaluation at Hamilton Legal Outreach Report 2019 .pdf

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