Law Society Essay Contest for BC Secondary Students

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2015 Essay contest winners Han Wei (Helen) Luo (left), Law 12 student from Hugh McRoberts Secondary School in Richmond, and runner-up Anushka Kurian, Law 12 student from Hugh Boyd Secondary School in Richmond. Image © Law Society of British Columbia

For the 2016/17 school year, the Law Society is inviting all Grade 12 students and any secondary school students who have taken, or are currently enrolled in either Law 12 or Civic Studies 11, to submit an essay on the following topic:

How would you explain the rule of law to a fellow student who has never heard the term before? You might discuss why the rule of law is important, and how it impacts our daily lives. You might also discuss any current events involving threats to the rule of law.

The winning entry will be awarded a $1,000 prize, and the runner up will receive a $500 prize. The first place winner and runner up will be invited to an awards presentation event at the Law Society in Vancouver. Deadline for submissions is April 10, 2017.

For further details, including the information sheet and submission guidelines visit the Law Society website.

Read about last year’s essay here, and last year’s winning essays here:

Winning essay: “The Journey of the Magna Carta” by Han Wei (Helen) Luo

Runner-up essay: “The Ripple Effect of the Magna Carta” by Anushka J. Kurian

Stay informed with the Law Society of BC:

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LSLAP 2016 Summer Program Update

By Law Students’ Legal Advice Program

SUMMER OPERATIONS

We are able to run 13 clinics this summer with a wide range of locations, days and times. You may call for appointments at (604) 822-5791.

LSLAP
Free legal advice for low-income people in Metro Vancouver, run by UBC Allard Law students

Please call (604) 684-1628 to set up a Chinese language appointment at our Chinatown clinic. We have clinics operating Monday – Friday with times starting as early as 9am and ending as late as 9pm. Our full list of locations can be found on the HelpMap here and is as follows:

  • North Shore;
  • Burnaby;
  • Robson Square;
  • Coquitlam;
  • New Westminster;
  • UBC;
  • Trout Lake;
  • Surrey Gateway;
  • South Van;
  • Chinatown;
  • Richmond;
  • Carnegie; and
  • Surrey PICS.

We are fortunate enough to have earned the funding for two clinicians at Surrey PICS, UBC and Coquitlam. Overall we were able to hire 18 full time clinicians this summer. Every clinic site also has between 2 and 4 volunteer clinicians assigned to that location. We are confident that this summer will be busy but manageable due to funding, teamwork and the number of eager new summer clinicians.

MEET THE TEAM

The Student executive for 2016:

Executive Director – Emma Wilson

Operations Director – Isaac Won

Publications Director – Alexei Paish

Director at Large – Jon Del Castillo

Public Relations Director – Alisyn Burns

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Community Updates – Nidus, DABC, CRT

Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD)

Nidus is providing updates and public legal education on the status of physician assisted dying legislation on Ask Joanne FAQ (Update: See new post here), which includes resources such as:

Nidus logo
Nidus is a non-profit charity that runs an online Registry on planning for end-of-life, incapacity & other support needs. Nidus is an expert on Representation Agreements and other personal planning documents.

Register for free webinar presentations on Planning for Health Care & Personal Care for more information on MAiD.

BCCLA is also providing updates on the issue via their website here.

Updates to PWD and PPMB Guides

Disability Alliance BC has completed a full update of the following application and appeal guides:

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DABC helps British Columbians with disabilities access supports through front-line & systemic advocacy, community projects, workshops & publications.

The guides are designed for advocates, but can also be used by people applying for or appealing the denial of benefits. They focus on applications, reconsiderations, and tribunals for income supports and medical supplies/services provided by the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation.

If you would like DABC to mail you this publication, please call Val at 604-875-0188 or email her at feedback@disabilityalliancebc.org

Feedback welcome on CRT Draft Rules

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The CRT will give you choices about how, when, and where you resolve small claims and strata property (condominium) disputes, built around your needs and your life.

The Civil Resolution Tribunal is welcoming feedback until July 6, 2016 on its draft Rules of Procedure.

Click here for more details on how to participate, including: an explanation of what the Rules are, what they will do, how people will use them, and what’s different about them.

Need a refresher on Online Dispute Resolution? Check out the introduction to our ODR series here.

Stay informed:

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Rise Women’s Legal Centre: Changing the Legal Landscape

By Ana Mihajlovic
Student Advisor, Rise Women’s Legal Centre

After over a decade of research, work, and planning, Rise Women’s Legal Centre has officially opened its doors to the public. Rise welcomes all self-identified women who are experiencing family law issues, and who: cannot afford legal counsel, may not qualify for legal aid, or whose legal aid hours have run out. Rise is Vancouver-based but accepts calls from clients throughout BC*.

WHAT WE DO

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Standing (l to r): Candice Minnaar, Floriana Costea, Ana Mihajlovic, Miryam Burns Seated: Vandana Sood, Kim Hawkins, Raji Mangat

As a legal centre, Rise offers a multitude of services for women facing family law issues.

At Rise, you can:

  • meet with a student advisor;
  • receive summary advice;
  • receive unbundled services such as drafting of documents for your legal proceeding;
  • receive full legal representation in Provincial Court;
  • get connected to other useful resources in the community; and
  • use our library and computer at our Self-Help Centre to do your own research in a safe space.

WHAT WE DON’T DO

As law students, student advisors cannot appear in Supreme Court, which means we cannot represent you in proceedings at the Supreme Court level. However, we may still be able to help with other steps along the way, such as preparing court forms and documents, and preparation for hearings.

Although our services are restricted to the legal realm, if you seek support in other areas such as counselling, job search, housing, to name a few, we can connect you with right resources.

Presently, Rise will only handle family law issues but will be expanding its services in the future to include other areas of the law.

ABOUT RISE

Rise has been formed through a partnership between West Coast LEAF and the Peter A. Allard School of Law at UBC, and with the support of private donors.  Our clinic is staffed by: a dedicated group of senior year law students from Allard Law, our knowledgeable and experienced supervising lawyers, and our wonderful office manager. We recognize the serious gap in funding for family law disputes, which has resulted in the growing population of self-represented litigants in these cases. Self-representation can sometimes lead to very negative outcomes and the overall experience can be scary, isolating, and generally unpleasant. We are here to help.

Student advisors are in their final year of law school, and working at Rise adds an experiential learning component to these students’ academic careers. Aside from completing the Family Law course at the law school, all students have also undergone a two-week orientation and training program led by experienced family law lawyers, advocates, and professionals within the legal community. Additionally, students will be researching and preparing a seminar paper on a chosen topic in relation to the work done at the Centre. As one of the student advisors here at Rise, I have enjoyed my time so far and am looking forward to the busy summer ahead!

*Rise is able to conduct some interviews over the phone for remote clients to give summary advice. However, for full services (going to trial in Provincial Court as counsel), we may be restricted to courts in the Lower Mainland. For example, in one instance where a client from Kelowna needed help with trial preparation (for her Kelowna court appearance) my colleague was able to provide her unbundled services by giving her advice over the phone and email, but leaving court appearances to the client herself.

CONTACT US

To connect with us, please give us a call at 604-451-7447 or email us at info@womenslegalcentre.ca.

As the inaugural class at Rise, we are honoured to be the first to partake in this amazing project. We look forward to using our legal skills and knowledge to do work that is meaningful and purpose-driven, and we are excited to welcome you to our Centre!


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Free Webinar Training for Advocates – Women and Law – Parenting Time and Parenting Responsibilities

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Understanding the recent changes to family law in BC and their impacts on parenting experiences is a critical role for advocates working with women fleeing abuse.

That’s why Courthouse Libraries BC and West Coast LEAF (Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund) are offering a free 1.5 hour webinar aimed at frontline service providers who assist women survivors of violence–including transition house workers, settlement workers, sexual assault support workers, counsellors, and others. Lawyers who work primarily in areas other than family law may also find the webinar useful, as may family law practitioners seeking a feminist anti-violence lens on legal issues they encounter regularly. The webinar will touch on common legal challenges such as parenting assessment reports, denial of parenting time, relocating with a child, and the overlap between family law and child protection matters, as well as strategies to cope with these issues. The discussion will be grounded in an analysis of diverse women’s experiences navigating the family law system after leaving an abusive relationship.

West Coast LEAF’s education manager Alana Prochuk will co-present the webinar with expert guest Zara Suleman. Zara practices family law and fertility law; she is also a certified family law mediator and collaborative law practitioner.  Zara has worked as an independent legal researcher and consultant and was also the Director of the Family Law Project for West Coast LEAF.  She has been actively involved in presenting, writing and editing public legal education materials on family law issues. Prior to law school Zara was a frontline community advocate for over a decade.

We invite you to join our free 1.5 hour webinar on Monday June 27th from noon to 1:30 pm Pacific Time.

Space in the webinar is limited to 100 people. Please register here today!

This webinar is funded generously by the BC Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

Courthouse Libraries is a non-profit organization in BC helping lawyers and the community find and use legal information. You can contact them at 1-800-665-2570 or email the training coordinator at training@courthouselibrary.ca.

West Coast LEAF is BC’s first and only organization dedicated to advancing women’s equality through the law. West Coast LEAF has been working since 1985 to end discrimination against women through equality rights litigation, law reform, and public legal education. To learn more about West Coast LEAF’s public legal education programming, including this webinar, please contact Alana Prochuk at 604-684-8772 extension 117 or education@westcoastleaf.org.

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Free Webinar for Community Workers & Advocates: Clicklaw Refresher

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LawMatters and Clicklaw will be collaborating on this upcoming webinar.
For: Community Workers, Advocates, and Public Librarians
When: June 28th 1:00-2:00pm PST*
Presenters: Audrey Jun and Shannon McLeod
Cost: Free

Brush up with this great introduction (or review) to using Clicklaw to help answer legal information questions and make effective referrals.
We will be reviewing how to search Clicklaw for reliable legal information as well as how to use Clicklaw Wikibooks and the Clicklaw HelpMap.

Raise your awareness of different resources, publishers, and organizations and sign up today!

Stay informed:

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MyLawBC helps you with common legal problems

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MyLawBC features numerous “pathways” for your legal problems.

By Nate Prosser
Online Outreach Coordinator 

There’s no doubt that the law is complicated. What further complicates matters is when laws vary by jurisdiction (from province to province, and from country to country). This is why sites like Clicklaw are needed to help people find legal information. One of the biggest challenges faced by people who teach the public about the law is making legal information easy to understand and easy to act on.

The Legal Services Society’s new site, MyLawBC, takes a new tack to this challenge. The site is built around the idea of guided pathways — interactive pathways that ask you questions about your situation and then use your answers to create a plan that empowers you to solve your legal problem.

What can MyLawBC help me with?

For now, MyLawBC covers four main areas of law: divorce and separation, foreclosure, wills & estates, and personal planning.

If you’re going through a separation, MyLawBC can help. Its pathways guide you to the best way to work through separation with your spouse, to get a court order, or to respond to a court document. You may also use the Dialogue Tool which simplifies the process of creating a separation agreement by helping you and your spouse identify what’s important to you, giving you the platform and tools to work together to create a fair and lasting separation agreement.

For those facing foreclosure, there’s the missed mortgage payments pathway. As you progress through the pathway, MyLawBC gives you practical information on how to avoid foreclosure and where to find financial and legal help. Upon completion of the pathway, you are provided with an “action plan” which tells you what your options are to keep your house and what steps you need to take. Your plan also includes resources like tips, checklists, and sample letters.

The make a will pathway will help you learn about the decisions you need to make when writing a will. Depending on your situation, MyLawBC may provide you with a simple form to fill out to create your will. Even if MyLawBC cannot provide a will to fit your needs, the pathway will give you information about what to put in your will and how to get help to complete one.

Planning for your future where you may need help making decisions is also important. The plan for the future pathway explains the available legal documents and which one(s) are for you.


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Access to Justice BC

a2j_logoAccess to Justice BC is British Columbia’s response to a national call for action to make family and civil justice more accessible. It is a forum to facilitate open communication and collaborative working relationships among justice system stakeholders.

The following entry is a cross-post from the Access to Justice BC website

By Mr. Justice Robert J. Bauman
The Honourable Chief Justice of British Columbia
Chair of Access to Justice BC


Welcome to the Access to Justice BC website. It is my sincere pleasure to launch what I anticipate will become a series of updates communicating the activities and progress of Access to Justice BC. I look forward to reaching people across our province who are interested in and concerned about the extent to which the civil justice system is accessible in BC. I want to provide information about what Access to Justice BC is doing about the problem, and to invite you to tell us how well we are doing.

In this posting, I will describe a bit about Access to Justice BC and explain what encouraged me get involved with the initiative.

Access to Justice BC started when a few of the province’s justice leaders and thinkers took to heart the recommendation of the National Action Committee to create a provincial forum dedicated to improving access to justice. The small group of people grew larger and came to involve the major legal institutions in the province, and eventually representatives from organizations outside of the justice system as well. The rationale for this broad membership is to foster an innovative, multi-disciplinary approach to the issue, hopefully leading to better ideas and a greater willingness to experiment (and to take risks).

Access to Justice BC got off the ground in 2015 with a handful of meetings addressing the processes that the group will follow and deciding on a first target for action within the civil justice system: family law. Running parallel to the full Access to Justice BC meetings have been a multitude of smaller sub-committee meetings, working on strategy, communications and planning issues.

The most recent full meeting of Access to Justice BC, which I will describe in more detail in a separate posting, took place in February of this year and put to the test the creative thinking and commitment of the group. A number of concrete initiatives were identified for exploration, and I will be reporting on these initiatives as they progress.

What drew me to join Access to Justice BC? Like many people involved in the civil justice system, I am sorely aware of its shortcomings. Don’t get me wrong; I’m also proudly aware of its strengths and successes. But when I see litigants struggling to navigate complex court processes on their own, or when I consider the unknown number of people in BC who, thwarted by the potential cost, don’t pursue their legal rights, I have to ask myself: is the justice system there for everyone who needs it? If not, what are we doing wrong? Are there minor fixes to address some problems, or is a complex overhaul required? Conversely, what aspects of the system (or of another system for that matter) are working well? Is there a way to transpose those successes to certain areas of civil justice or to scale them upwards?

Access to Justice BC does not pretend to have the answers to these questions. The access problem isn’t something that can be solved by a group of people thinking hard in a room. It is a complex problem that may require multiple innovative solutions and, in order to reach those solutions, some degree of trial and error. It will also take hard work and, yes, in some cases resources.

I hope that you will visit our website and follow our progress over the next year.

– Bob Bauman, Chief Justice of British Columbia


Stay informed with Access to Justice BC:

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Mediation Advisors Now Available to Assist People with Civil Disputes

By Mediate BC

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Are you having a conflict with someone that you need help to resolve?

Unsure what to do or where to go for help?

The Mediation Advisor service can help you figure out what your options are and link you with resources to put your plan in place. Best of all, this service is available free of charge thanks to funding provided by the Law Foundation of British Columbia and Family Justice Services Division.

What is a “civil dispute”?

A civil dispute is a disagreement between any two parties outside of separation and divorce, personal injury, child protection or criminal matters. Some examples of civil disputes are workplace conflicts, landlord tenant issues, human rights, wills and estates.

If you are unsure whether your situation applies, call the Mediate BC office and we will help you identify if your matter is a civil dispute.

How can they help?AboutImgPlaceholder

 The Mediation Advisor can:

  • help you sort out the facts of your case,
  • identify the various options to resolve your dispute, and
  • link you to resources to put your plan into action.

The Mediation Advisor can call the person you are in conflict with and see if it is possible to resolve the issue over the phone. If further conversation about the matter is required, the Mediation Advisor can connect you with a pro bono or low cost mediator to assist with more in-depth exploration of solutions.

Other possible resources they can connect you with are lawyers to obtain legal advice, or community resources that specialize in the issue you need assistance addressing.

What if I live outside of the Lower Mainland?CatchAll

The great news is that the Mediation Advisor is often able to assist people over the phone! You do not need to live in Vancouver or Victoria to access this service.

You can phone from the comfort of your home and the Mediation Advisor can assist you. This service is meant to support all residents of BC.

Where to Find Us

The Mediation Advisors are located at the Vancouver and Victoria Justice Access CentresPhone to book an appointment at the numbers below:

Victoria Mediation Advisor
225 – 850 Burdett Ave
Victoria, BC V8W 1B4
Phone: 250-356-6128
Vancouver Mediation Advisor
290 – 800 Hornby Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 2C5
Phone: 604-660-8406

 

 

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2016 Bi-monthly Update Series: March-April 2016

In our 2015 year-end update, we promised to provide bimonthly updates to new resources and services added to Clicklaw in those two months. Here is a selection from the hundreds of changes in March and April:

Jan-Feb | Mar-Apr | May-Jun | Jul-Aug | Sep-Oct | Nov-Dec


Battered Women’s Support Services
by Battered Women’s Support Services

See BWSS’ expanded legal advocacy program which includes full representation (family and immigration matters), and other help on family law issues: workshops, a family law clinic and a court forms preparation clinic.

 

Islamophobia Hotline
by SABA BC, Access Pro Bono, National Council of Canadian Muslims, BCPIAC, FACL BC, CLAS, BCCLA, CABL, CBA BC

Free confidential legal advice if you feel that you have been discriminated, harassed, or faced violence because you are Muslim or were perceived to be Muslim: 604-343-3828

 

Resources on police record checks
by Canadian Civil Liberties Association

Want to know what a police record is? How to try to deal with a non-conviction record? What privacy and human rights laws apply, or best practices for employers? Check out this resource from the CCLA.

 

LSLAP Manuals
by LSLAP Law Students’ Legal Advice Program

See the latest links for LSLAP’s updated legal advice manuals.

 

Coping with Separation Handbook
by Legal Services Society

For spouses (married or living in a marriage-like relationship) dealing with the emotional aspects of separating. Describes ways to cope and how to help your children cope. Includes support services for spouses, parents, and children, and where to find legal help.

 

The Social Security Tribunal
by Disability Alliance BC and CLAS

In 2013, the process to appeal the denial of Canada Pension Plan Disability (CPP-D) changed when a new system, the Social Security Tribunal (SST), replaced the Review Tribunal. This guide will help people and advocates who are appealing denial of CPP-D to the SST. The guide has been updated in 2016.

 

Atira Legal Services
by Atira Women’s Resources Society

See updated information for Atira’s Legal Advocacy Program for Women in the DTES, Atira’s Weekly Summary Legal Advice Clinic, and Atira Women’s Court Form Preparation Clinic.

 

The McKenzie Friend: Choosing and Presenting a Courtroom Companion
by NSLRP

As a self-represented litigant, you may bring someone to sit with you at the front of a courtroom when you are appearing before a judge or master. You must ask the judge for permission for this person – often a friend or family member – to sit beside you and help you through the process.

 

Executor Guide for BC
by Heritage Law

This publicly available wikibook will help you understand the steps involved in being an executor and probating a will.

 

Leaving Abuse
by Legal Services Society

This graphic novel tells the story of Maya, who is leaving her abusive partner but doesn’t know where to get help. Through illustrations and clear basic legal information, Leaving Abuse shows how she finds the support and legal aid she and her children need to stay safe and start a new life.

 

TRU Community Legal Clinic (CLC)
by Thompson Rivers University (TRU)

The Community Legal Clinic (CLC) is the first student-staffed pro bono legal clinic in the Interior of British Columbia. The students and the supervising lawyer are a passionate team providing legal assistance and advice to those who would otherwise be unable to afford legal assistance.

 

Preparing for B.C.’s New Societies Act: A Guide to the Transition Process
by BC Registry Services

The new Societies Act will come into effect on Nov. 28, 2016. In the two years following that date, every preexisting society will be required to “transition” to the new Act. This document sets out some basic information about the transition process and other matters that societies may wish to consider over the coming months.

 

Debt collection & debt repayment agents
by Consumer Protection BC

Consumer Protection BC is the licensing and regulatory body for the debt collection and repayment industry (which includes debt collectors, collection agencies, bailiffs and debt repayment agents). They provide information on your rights & obligations around debt collection practices. Includes links on how to dispute a debt, request communication in writing only, or notify a collection agency you are not the debtor.

Includes updated information on debt collection practices. See also blog post on Debt Repayment Agents: New Rules are in place and New things to know about BC’s debt collection laws


Notice – BC Government URLs

You may have noticed that some of the links to websites hosted by the BC Government may be broken as they restructure. We are currently working with BC Gov website staff to keep links updated. For example, see the updated link to Family Justice in BC.

Stay informed:

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