01 June 2015

Guest Column: Amici Curiae Paralegals to Deliver an Innovative Pro Bono Service, Temporary Foreign Worker Divorce Clinic

by Dom Bautista,
Executive Director, Law Courts Centre

The Amici Curiae Pro Bono Paralegal Programme, which is now in its fourth year of operations, is expanding its services to serve Temporary Foreign Workers who need help in preparing their uncontested divorce applications.

The clinic is offering help to TFWs, specifically those who come from countries like the Philippines where divorce is not allowed, who need to complete their application for an uncontested divorce order with the Supreme Court of British Columbia. The clinic also helps TFWs who have children in their native country, and are in the process of applying to include their children, but not their spouse, in their application to become a Canadian Permanent Resident. For TFWs who do not wish to include their spouse in their PR application, Immigration Canada requires proof of separation, such as a divorce order. The objective of the programme is to help draft these forms to meet the legal requirements and guidelines.

The Amici Curiae volunteers are skilled paralegals who have at least two years litigation experience; they have completed their training in preparing uncontested divorce applications in British Columbia.

Innovation

We have adopted private practice service standards, integrated innovative concepts like unbundling legal services, and used technology to deliver what we hope will be a top notch pro bono service. Consider:
Unbundled service. We have streamlined uncontested divorce applications in British Columbia to eight steps. Our clients can engage us in any of the eight steps. Each step will specify what documents need to be prepared and submitted to the court registry. 
Certitude. Our clients will be told how much they should expect to pay and how long each step should take. 
Support. At each session, will have at least one volunteer who speaks Filipino. At the end of each session, the clients will receive a written checklist or instructions. In between service times, they will receive email or text reminders in the language of their choice.
About the Clinic

Each clinic session will have a duty counsel present to review the completed forms. No legal advice will be given at the clinics. Our clinics will be held on Saturdays. Each session is one hour long. Clients can choose either the 2:00 pm or 3:00 pm time slots. Our first clinic will be held on 6 June 2015.
Email address. tfw.divorce@gmail.com 
Reservations number. 778.322.2839 
Location. Justice Education Society of British Columbia, Room 260 at 800 Hornby Street in Vancouver, British Columbia
Amici Curiae's TFW clinic is self-funded, thus our clients will be charged $25 for each session to help cover expenses.

Our TFW clinic is the latest addition to our growing list of services which include the civil and human rights matters.

This is an exciting time for the practice of pro bono work in British Columbia. If you are interested in participating as duty counsel or paralegal, please write me.

About Dom Bautista

Dom C. Bautista is the executive director of Law Courts Center in Vancouver. When not teaching, he tinkers with ways to open access to justice to self-represented litigants in BC. Follow Dom on Twitter at @lccdombautista.

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