13 November 2010

Legal Aid News and Updates

LSS Launches Legal Advice Telephone Service (updated 24 November 2010)

On 1 November 2010, the Legal Services Society, the organization that provides legal aid in British Columbia, launched the Telephone Advice Line, rebranded as the Family LawLINE shortly thereafter, to answer questions about family law issues. The Family LawLINE is staffed by two lawyers who are available from 9:30 to 12:30 on business days. The service is intended for people who do not have a lawyer and do not qualify for representation through legal aid.

Callers must meet the legal aid eligibility criteria for legal advice, a different standard than the eligibility criteria for legal representation, and will be screened before being put through to one of the lawyers.

To contact the Family LawLINE, call:
604-408-2172 if you're calling from the Lower Mainland
1-866-577-2525 if you're calling from elsewhere
I understand that calls will not be put through after 12:00.

This is not exactly a replacement for the former LawLINE, one of the services axed with the budget cuts implemented on 1 April 2010, but it's a start.

West Coast LEAF Publishes Report

On 9 November 2010, West Coast LEAF and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives published a new report on legal aid in this province titled Rights-Based Legal Aid: Rebuilding BC's Broken System (PDF). The report provides a detailed review of the funding cuts suffered by the Legal Services Society since 2002 and the consequences of those cuts, and offers some recommendations about how to fix things.

LEAF recommends that the provincial legal aid system be revamped to provide services whenever human dignity is at stake and funding a mix of specialized legal aid clinics, private lawyers paid through a tariff system and staff lawyers in community-based non-profit organizations. The report is well written and deserves a read.

LEAF's other work on family law, legal aid and legal services includes: