Webinars on Using Clicklaw

The Clicklaw team conducted our first set of webinars over the last two weeks, training public librarians on how to use Clicklaw to find answers to legal questions. The feedback was fantastic:

“What an excellent resource! From now on, I will always start here when faced with legal reference questions. It’s wonderful to have so much valuable information collected in one portal with a very intuitive search interface.”

“In a lot of ways, Clicklaw makes my job easier, because the site is so user friendly, and informative. This training confirmed that there really is more than one good way to find the answer!”

“I thought the training was great. The site is very intuitive and it was nice to learn about some of the extras that I may not have investigated.”

From Clicklaw webinar

The webinars were an hour long, and involved a short demo of the site, followed by an opportunity for participants to do realistic practice questions on their own computers and then share their findings with other participants. As a result of the training, participants reported a 40 per cent increase in their confidence in using the Internet to find legal information or assistance for themselves or their clients.

One cool element: half of the participants tuned into the webinar from home:

If you’re interested in taking Clicklaw training via a webinar in future, please drop us a line at editor@clicklaw.bc.ca!

West Coast LEAF Report on Legal Resources for Women in BC

In 2009, West Coast LEAF’s Family Law Project identified the need for capturing a snapshot of the existing legal resources for women in BC. Project staff conducted a survey of advocacy groups and women-serving community based organizations, and released a report recently added to the Reform and Research section of Clicklaw:  Mapping the Gap: A Summary of Legal Resources for Women in British Columbia.

The report includes findings concerning gaps in legal information and resources for women, significant challenges with legal aid, and rural realities.

Information About Recent Changes to Welfare Benefits

  • Legal Services Society published an article in their newsletter Elan summarizing changes made to welfare benefits in recent months. The most recent edition of Your Welfare Rights: A Guide to BC Employment and Assistance is available on Clicklaw, and Legal Services Society is preparing an insert of updated information.
  • Among the changes that came into effect on June 1, 2010 are new rules about welfare eligibility for people who have outstanding arrest warrants. Rebecca Cuttler interviews Pivot Legal Society lawyer Doug King in the podcast New Provincial Law Bans Social Assistance for People with Warrants.
  • Earlier this year, major changes came into effect relating to coverage for health supplements for those on welfare. The BC Coalition of People with Disabilities has updated the help sheet Health Supplements for People with Disabilities, which summarizes the current range of medical services and supplies provided by the BC Ministry of Housing and Social Development.

BC Disability Benefits Help Sheets Updated

The BC Coalition of People with Disabilities has updated their series of help sheets on BC disability benefits. There are 14 help sheets for people with disabilities who need to access provincial disability benefits and the medical services & supplies provided by the Ministry of Housing and Social Development. The help sheets cover applying for the persons with disabilities (PWD) benefit, applying for the persons with persistent and multiple barriers (PPMB) to employment benefit, appealing a denial of benefits, and other topics such as trusts and health supplements for persons with disabilities. New with this March 2010 update: three help sheets have been translated into Chinese.

Law Foundation Report on Aboriginal Child Welfare

A report from the Law Foundation of BC documents how Aboriginal communities in BC are using alternative ways to resolve disputes in the area of child protection. The Law Foundation funded several organizations to develop alternative dispute resolution models in child protection law, particularly for Aboriginal children. The alternative models feature collaborative decision-making, where families are supported in developing a plan for their child. The Report of Aboriginal Child Welfare Collaborative Decision-Making Models, now available in the Reform and Research section of Clicklaw, describes 11 projects that use collaborative decision-making models, building knowledge in this unique area.

Video & Teacher’s Guide on BC Court of Appeal

Appeals from court decisions: what makes them important? A seven minute video on the Justice Education Society website highlights the role of appeals in our justice system. The video is a condensed version of “Though the Heavens Fall”, an hour-long documentary developed by the BC Court of Appeal with the Justice Education Society and the Knowledge Network for the Court of Appeal’s 100th Anniversary.

The documentary highlights important social changes, such as the introduction of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as gay marriage, and illustrates how concepts such as the rule of law and judicial independence are critical to the health of our justice system. The full-length DVD and a companion teacher’s guide, now available in Clicklaw’s Learn & Teach section, can be ordered from Justice Education for $20. The lessons help students learn about the BC Court of Appeal – what it is, what it does, and how it upholds values that are cornerstones of a free and democratic society.

Workers Advisers on HelpMap

We’ve added Workers’ Advisers to the Clicklaw HelpMap. Workers’ Advisers help workers who are having problems with workers compensation claims in BC. An Adviser can help a worker understand WCB policies and procedures, provide a worker or someone helping them with information about their claim, help a worker appeal a WCB decision, and in some cases represent a worker during an appeal. There are nine Workers’ Advisers offices, all of which can now be found on the HelpMap.

CBABC Dial-A-Law Factsheets Updated

A unique feature of Clicklaw is that most of what you see on the site comes directly from the organizations that produce the information. That is, contributors to the site add and update their own resource entries on Clicklaw. Our Clicklaw team provides support, but the contributors do the heavy lifting.

The Canadian Bar Association BC Branch, for example, updates their Clicklaw entries for the Dial-A-Law factsheets, also called scripts because they can be accessed by phone as recorded messages (call 604-687-4680 in the Lower Mainland or 1-800-565-5297 elsewhere in BC). Among the Dial-A-Law scripts that have been updated recently are Applying for Employment Insurance Benefits, Pleading Guilty to a Criminal Charge,  and Aboriginal Law

There are a total of 129 Dial-A-Law factsheets, in virtually all areas of law, so we are hugely grateful for the CBABC’s efforts in keeping the Clicklaw entries updated. The factsheets, which use plain language and are (in most instances) translated into Chinese and Punjabi, are among the more popular resources on the site.

Passing of the Torch: LawLINK and Electronic Law Library

In the last two weeks, two public legal information websites in BC have been retired and now redirect visitors to Clicklaw. The Electronic Law Library was developed over 10 years ago for public librarians in BC to assist people in finding the laws and legal information on the Internet. In 2002, LawLINK was designed as a gateway into legal information for low income and marginalized communities.  

Both sites were developed by the Legal Services Society, and were excellent resources. They set the stage for a site like Clicklaw to take the next step in providing enhanced features and consolidating legal information on one site. We recognize the great work done by the Legal Services Society, and are honoured to continue the tradition of providing the public in BC with access to legal information.