April: National Poetry Month

The rain — unending?

But, no, spring’s come. Remember?

Sunshine will follow.

Ok, so there are better poets out there, but in the spirit of National Poetry Month I decided to attempt a haiku for your, um, reading pleasure.

April is a time for poets and poetry lovers alike to celebrate the power of verse.  As many of you may know, however, art (to quote ALO) can get messy.

Want to learn more about Canadian copyright? Or what you should know when entering into a contract with a publisher? Perhaps you are submitting your work to a contest or considering self-publication?

Check out The Artists’ Legal Outreach (ALO) on Clicklaw. Made up of volunteer lawyers and law students, the ALO has resources, workshops, and clinics for all types of artists.

For more resources on entertainment & media law, start your Clicklaw search here.

It’s spring! and possibly time to start that home reno project

Although the weather has been suggesting otherwise, today is the first day of spring. Yes, spring! . . . The time of year when thoughts turn to love, cherry blossoms,  and quite possibly, some serious home renovations.

Whether you are re-shingling your roof, replacing your eavestroughs, or converting living spaces to meet changing needs, knowing both your rights and responsibilities will help to ensure the experience turns out to your satisfaction.  Who should I hire? What should the contract include? Will the bylaws of the strata corporation for my condo allow me to make these renovations? Who can I talk to for more information?

Resources on Clicklaw can help you  find the answers to these and other questions. Begin your reading here, and start those spring renos on the right foot!

Clicklaw Wikibook – Legal Help for British Columbians, 3rd Edition

At Clicklaw, we’re delighted to announce the launch of the 3rd edition of Legal Help for British Columbians as a Clicklaw wikibook. This popular guide is a quick reference, plain-language tool for non-legal professionals whose clients or patients have urgent legal problems. Covering common legal problems faced by low income clients in BC, the Guide outlines first steps to address the problems, as well as where to go to get further information and assistance.

Highlights of the new edition include:

  1. New format:  The Clicklaw wikibook format allows us to work collaboratively with a dozen contributors and reviewers from the legal community and public legal education and information community.  The new format is also easier to use and search for information in the Guide than is the case for a PDF document (previous editions of the Guide were posted on the Internet as PDF documents).
  2. New sections: We’ve added 10 new common legal problems to the Guide, as well as new chapters on immigration and mental health.
  3. Updated information throughout: Our group of volunteers has reviewed the entire Guide and is committed to making updates to the Clicklaw wikibook as the law and resources change.

We’re excited about our first Clicklaw wikibook and we’d love your thoughts and comments! Have a look, and let us know what you think.

More information about the Clicklaw wikibook can be found in this one page announcement and this news release.

Promising Practices: LawMatters’ collaboration with public libraries

LawMatters At Your Local Public Library  is a unique outreach program of the Courthouse Libraries BC. Begun as a project in April 2007, and becoming an ongoing Client Services program in 2010, LawMatters helps public libraries enhance their legal information collections and provides training for public library staff. Together, LawMatters and BC’s public libraries aim to ensure that all BC residents have local access to basic legal information.

Their latest report, Talking to Librarians about LawMatters: Promising Practices,  is now on Clicklaw. This 2011 paper summarizes the findings of a phone survey of 20 public libraries across BC and identifies practices that enhance library staff’s ability to provide legal information.

One of the outcomes of the report is that, in moving forward, a key role for LawMatters in sustaining legal reference services is providing opportunities for ongoing training.  According to program coordinator Janet Freeman, LawMatters will be sponsoring two webinars this spring for public librarians on the topic of Residential Tenancy Law. The webinars will be offered through the Libraries and Literacy Program of the BC Ministry of Education.

To read more from LawMatters see their 2010 report LawMatters At Your Local Public Library: A Report for Public Librarians.

Representing yourself in the justice system? Would you like to share your experience?

If you are representing yourself in a family or civil case, consider sharing your experiences dealing with the legal system.

Julie Macfarlane, of the University of Windsor Faculty of Law, is conducting a research project that is collecting the personal stories of self represented litigants – how they came to represent themselves, what happened as they moved through the legal process, and how far their expectations of justice matched up to the results.

If you are representing yourself, this is a study that can allow you to be part of the collective voice driving this project. This project is the opportunity for you to share your experiences not only dealing with the logistical aspects of the legal system – such as navigating through forms, processes and procedures, translating the language of law, and dealing with justice system personnel – but also to share your personal story and emotional journey. This project sees you as a critical part of the legal system, and encourages you to let your voice be heard by policy makers, judges and justice system officers.

If you participate, your identity and private information will be kept confidential and an interview will be scheduled at your convenience. Personal interviews and focus groups will be held at the Vancouver, Prince George, Surrey or Nanaimo courthouse. Telephone interviews are also available. Interviews are conducted by Julie Macfarlane, and take between 30 minutes and 1 hour, depending on how long you want to talk for.

This project is funded by the Law Foundations of British Columbia and Alberta.

If you would like to participate and/or learn more about this project, you can  check out the project website or go to the Facebook page. 

You can also email Julie Macfarlane at: julie.macfarlane@uwindsor.ca or call toll free and leave a message at 1-888-775-8125.

International recognition for Nidus and the Representation Agreement Act of BC

A Scientific Advisory Board to the World Future Council  has chosen the Representation Agreement Act as the best policy in the world for recognizing the right to support in personal decision making and avoiding guardianship. As reported in the October issue of  the Nidus newsletter, the Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre and Registry has been recognized as  the organization that has been the main driver behind the creation of the Act, and as the leading expert on this unique  BC policy.


Recognizing the capacity of all people to direct their lives, a Representation Agreement is a legal document available to adults in BC for personal planning. It allows you to authorize one or more personal supporters to be your representative to help you manage your affairs and, if necessary, to make decisions on your behalf in case of illness, injury, or disability.

A great introduction to Representation Agreements is provided in this Nidus fact sheet. RepAgreementFactSheet



Looking for more? Check out these helpful resources from Nidus- including how-to’s, legal forms, videos, and more – on Clicklaw.bc.ca.

Being an Active Citizen

Heading to the polls this Saturday, November 19th?  To get you into the spirit of things, check out Being an Active Citizen, a new web resource on Clicklaw.

BeingActiveCitizenThis teaching resource by Justice Education Society of BC is a 5-year program with 10 lessons per year for Social Studies grades 7-11. It enhances curriculum on law, government and citizenship by teaching students about the political and justice systems in Canada and by giving them the tools and confidence to be active citizens.

To learn more about the rights and responsibilities of Canadian citizenship and how to become involved in the democratic life of your community, you may want to take a look at the BC Civil Liberties Association’s The Citizenship Handbook. This handbook was created for students and new Canadians, but it is also intended as a useful reminder for all Canadians who take their citizenship for granted.citizenshiphandbook


Details about Saturday’s civic election, such as how the process works and what you may need to bring, can be found on the City of Vancouver website.

November: Adoption Awareness month

This month provides an opportunity to celebrate and promote awareness about adoption.

Adoption in BC is governed by a provincial law called the Adoption Act. Anyone who lives permanently in BC can apply to adopt, including opposite- and same-sex couples.

There are four different types of adoptions:

  • placement by the director of adoption (who works for the Ministry of Children and Family Development),
  • placement by an adoption agency,
  • direct placement (when the birth parent places a child with a non-relative), and
  • relative adoption (adoption by a relative or step-parent).

Want to learn more?

A good place to start is with Clicklaw’s commonly asked questions:q+a icon

Do you use ‘Your Welfare Rights’ guide? Your feedback is important!

If you are one of the many users of the popular LSS publication Your Welfare Rights: A Guide to BC Employment and Assistance, the Legal Services Society would very much value your feedback! 

YourWelfareRightsGuideA short survey is available here. Please complete this quick questionnaire by Monday, November 14, 2011. 

Although LSS is revising the guide primarily to incorporate changes in the law, they are also taking this opportunity to solicit brief but important feedback from their users.

According to Alex Peel, the Publications Development Coordinator, LSS will be collecting more extensive feedback on the entire publication in the next year. Please feel free to email Alex if you have any questions or information to share about this or any other LSS publication.

Need help handling your Small Claims Court case?

SmallClaimsBC.ca can help you find the information you need, no matter what side you are on.smallclaimsBC-logo





This website by Justice Education Society provides information for all British Columbians who have a legal dispute worth less than $25,000.

Exciting new updates to the site include a map that lists all Small Claims Court locations in BC, an overview for the process at each court location, as well as three new videos – also now available on Clicklaw – on the small claims process, settlement conferences and collecting after judgement.

 SmallClaimsBC.ca also includes access to Small Claims Court forms (Filing Assistant and PDF versions), rules, fees and procedural guides, and five additional videos that help self-representing litigants

SmallClaimsBC.ca is the Justice Education Society’s second most popular website, with almost 42,000 visitors last year.

For more information on handling your Small Claims Court case, take a peek at these great resources on Clicklaw.bc.ca.