Better Legal Information Handbook

cleo-betterlegalinformationhandbookIf your group produces legal information for the public you’ll want to bookmark this new resource, Better Legal Information Handbook – Practical Tips for Community Workers. Produced by Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO), this handbook provides a comprehensive overview of steps involved in planning, producing, distributing and evaluating public legal education and information (PLEI) resources. As CLEO Executive Director Julie Mathews explains in the handbook’s acknowledgements:

“The handbook covers the fundamentals: knowing your audience and writing for them, choosing the best format for your information, and usability testing and evaluating. It draws together the principles of plain language and design and gives practical advice on how to apply them.”

With practical examples from across Canada, the tips and tools in this resource will be extremely valuable for anyone involved in the development of PLEI.

The online PDF version is available for free. Copies outside Ontario are $20 – for more information on ordering a print copy, visit http://www.plelearningexchange.ca/betterinfo.

Share

Clicklaw Wikibook Author Cliff Thorstenson Visits the Merritt Public Library

Clicklaw Wikibook author Cliff Thorstenson and Merritt Branch Librarian Deborha Merrick
Clicklaw Wikibook author Cliff Thorstenson and Merritt Branch Librarian Deborha Merrick

Continuing the tradition of Clicklaw Wikibook authors visiting their local public librariesLegal Help for British Columbians author Cliff Thorstenson recently visited the Merritt Branch of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District Library System. Local librarian Deborha Merrick told Cliff that she was pleased to add the latest edition of this very popular legal guide to her library’s legal information collection.

Written in plain language, the guide includes over 40 common legal problems faced by low income people, and outlines the first steps your client can take to address the problem. An annotated listing of over 60 referral resources is also included. The 2013 edition features updated information in family, welfare, employment insurance, and immigration law.

Cliff published the first edition of Legal Help for Rural British Columbians; A guide to help non-legal professionals make legal referrals for their clients in 2008. Recognizing that this guide would be a helpful addition to public library collections and training, the LawMatters program worked with Cliff and a team of volunteer editors to update the 2009, 2011 and 2013 editions. Since 2012, the guide has also been available in a wikibook format. This innovative format makes the online guide easy to search, easy to update by the author and editors, and easy for readers to download and print a recently updated version of a page, chapter, or the whole guide.

For readers who would like their own copy, both wikibooks Legal Help for British Columbians and JP Boyd on Family Law are now available as an e-pub for e-readers and mobile devices. Just look for the e-pub download information on the right hand side of the main page of each wikibook. We are planning to have an information page available soon that will explain how e-pubs work, and how they compare to a PDF version.

Share

A Death in Your Family – A Clicklaw Wikibook Produced by People’s Law School

A Death in Your FamilyWhether expected or unexpected, a death in the family is always an emotionally charged event that involves a considerable amount of last minute arrangements, both logistical and legal, that family members must attend to. 

For example, you may wonder if there is a prescribed time to dispose of a body or who should you first notify of your loved one’s death?  Is an autopsy automatically performed?  What is the coroner’s role in this situation?  Also, you may be wondering how to honor a loved one’s wish to donate their organs to science.  Answers to all of these questions and more are now available in a comprehensive wikibook,  A Death in Your Family, published by the People’s Law School.   This resource was first published in 2007 and was available in PDF format until its wikibook release.  For more information on wikibook features, see Clicklaw Wikibooks

Clicklaw features a Common Question that also addresses this topic – What legal issues do I need to attend to when a family member dies?  It includes links to resources on making funeral arrangements, obtaining death certificates as well as guidelines on some of the costs involved.

Share

Defending Yourself in Court – Newly Improved Criminal Law Booklet Series

Defending Yourself In Court BookletsThe latest redesigned set of criminal law booklets dealing with Defending Yourself In Court is now available from Legal Services Society.  The booklet series is organized by specific offence, e.g. assault, theft under $5000, possession of an illegal drug.  The booklets then tackle each offence by informing what penalties a person may face, what defenses can be applied as well what you can expect the prosecutor to say or do.   The Defending Yourself In Court booklets are an accompaniment to Representing Yourself In A Criminal Trial.

The team involved in the redesign of the booklets applied usability testing techniques in order to make them accessible for users.  The feedback from users led to notable improvements to the publications, including a new format, and a flow chart illustrating which publication should be applied in various stages of the court process. 

For additional resources on pursuing your own defense have a look at our Common Question – I’ve been charged with a crime.  How can I defend myself? – on Clicklaw.

Share

Law Foundation of BC Establishes Research Fund

Law Foundation of BC logo

 The Law Foundation of British Columbia has established a fund of $100,000 per year to support legal research initiatives in British Columbia.  The objective of the fund is to support legal research projects that “advance the knowledge of law, social policy, and the administration of justice”.

 The fund is open to members of the legal profession and others with expertise in carrying out legal research, and eligible candidates are asked to apply by submitting a Letter of Intent by September 20, 2013 by mail, courier, fax, or email for consideration at the November Law Foundation meeting.

For more details visit the Law Foundation of BC site.

Share

Celebrating Seniors Month

 

SAIL Intake Worker, Lin Chen, answering the Seniors Abuse and Information Line.
SAIL Intake Worker, Lin Chen, answering the Seniors Abuse and Information Line.

Every June, across Canada, a special observance is given to seniors and the wide array of social and legal issues affecting this group of citizens.  From applying for Old Age Security  to seeking support when their own life or security is at risk or suddenly finding themselves involved in raising a grandchild, these are just some of the issues that may suddenly become challenging for them.

Clicklaw offers a wealth of information resources directed at seniors, including Common Questions, and links to various services on the Clicklaw HelpMap that offer valuable information and support.  The BC Centre for Elderly Advocacy and Support (BC CEAS) is a great example of a service that advocates for seniors, works to prevent seniors abuse, and offers assistance to older adults whose safety may be in peril. 

As it happens, the BC Centre for Elderly Advocacy and Support has just announced that their Senior Abuse and Information Line (SAIL) has extended its hours of operation starting July 1st, to 8am-8pm daily except for holidays.  SAIL can be reached at 604-437-1940 or toll-free at 1-866-437-1940

Share

Clicklaw Wikibook Author Visits Maple Ridge Public Library

 

Maple Ridge Public Library Branch Manager Teresa MacLeod and Clicklaw Wikibook author JP Boyd
Maple Ridge Public Library Branch Manager Teresa MacLeod and Clicklaw Wikibook author JP Boyd

Lawyer and author John-Paul Boyd brought a print copy of the Clicklaw Wikibook JP Boyd on Family Law to his local library in Maple Ridge recently.  Fraser Valley Regional Library’s Maple Ridge Branch Manager Teresa MacLeod welcomed the new resource on family law as a valuable addition to her library’s legal information collection. As noted in a previous Clicklaw Blog post, JP Boyd on Family Law is an innovative and comprehensive resource for members of the public looking for help with their family law questions. Since the resource is available both online in a wiki format (similar to Wikipedia) as well as in bound print copies, it enables vastly improved access to legal information.

The LawMatters at your local public library  program operated by Courthouse Libraries BC works in partnership with public libraries in BC to enhance access to legal information in a variety of formats. LawMatters is arranging printing and distribution to all 241 libraries in the province of free copies of JP Boyd on Family Law as well as the recently updated 4th edition of Legal Help for British Columbians , also a Clicklaw Wikibook title.

Share

National Aboriginal Day: Honoring Canada’s Diverse Culture

Musqueam Aboriginal Day Invite 2013 - FinalOn June 21st provinces and territories across Canada will begin celebrations marking National Aboriginal Day.  From coast to coast we will be able to catch a glimpse of festive performances, tune in to traditional story telling sessions and learn more about the vast contributions made by Canada’s First Nation’s, Inuit and Métis peoples.

 

Did you know that almost every area of law, from consumer to family law, is affected by Aboriginal legal issues?  One of Clicklaw’s Common Questions – Where can I find an overview of how the law is different for Aboriginal people? – offers links to resources with information on key differences in the law of Aboriginal people.    

 

Interested in taking part in this year’s National Aboriginal Day celebrations?  On June 21st the Musqeam Indian Band is hosting  xixá??m?t t? na t?m?x? (“Caring for This Land”), an event featuring a barbecue, live entertainment and number of games and performances for audiences of all ages.  Happy National Aboriginal Day!

Share

AdminLawBC – Online Resource for Navigating Administrative Law

jes-adminlawbcresolvingdisputes AdminLawBCAre you preparing for a tough talk with your boss and want to get tips on negotiation tactics that will help the dialogue move forward?  Does your phone bill reflect charges that were not included in your original contract and you want to dispute the matter with your phone provider?  Are you a licensed practical nurse who wants to appeal a decision of your College’s Registrar of complaints?  All of these issues fall under the jurisdiction of boards, tribunals and government agencies that make rules affecting our daily lives.  This is administrative law territory. 

On April 15, Justice Education Society relaunched the AdminLawBC site that is intended to help British Columbians identify and navigate the appropriate administrative agencies in order to properly address issues dealt by each organization.  The updated site lists all the administrative agencies by topic, some of which include:

  • Citizenship, Rights & Law Enforcement
  • Culture & Information
  • Employment & Labour
  • Health & Health Professionals
  • Professional & Associations

The new and improved AdminLawBC site uses straightforward language, instructional videos as well as soon-to-be released automated assistant (JESS) or chat, that will help with identifying the appropriate agency and guiding users to relevant information resources addressing their specific administrative law matter.  

Also, have a look at Clicklaw for additional resources dealing with various administrative law areas, as identified under the following Common Questions – I have to do my own judicial review, I’ve been cut off workers’ compensation benefits, I’m representing myself at a landlord/tenant hearing, I’m preparing for a tribunal.  Where can I find out what to do?

Share

Access Pro Bono Wills Clinic

By Priyan Samarakoone (guest blogger)

(Access Pro Bono Society of BC)

We’re soon approaching the 1st anniversary of the Access Pro Bono Wills Clinic, and it’s been quite the success.  As one of a handful of Pro Bono Projects for the Department of Justice (DOJ), these programs marked the first time the DOJ got involved in Pro Bono Services in Canada in its 140 plus year history. We have since expanded and now have a mix of both government and private sector lawyers involved in the program.

 

Estate planning is an important issue for most families.  Proper planning can make the lives of loved ones much simpler and result in significantly less conflicts and disputes.  Estate Planning can range from drafting wills to drawing up representation agreements (for medical and financial decision making) as well as assigning a Power of Attorney.  While the Wills Clinic is not able to provide all these documents as of yet, we do believe that drawing up a simple will should be available to all those in need. 

 

The Wills Clinic takes place every Wednesday at the Justice Access Centre at the Provincial Courthouse in Downtown Vancouver.  We are able to assist 8 to 12 clients each month and we aim to have a document prepared within one month after the initial interview with a client.  The Wills Clinic has also recently expanded its scope to include section 7 Representation Agreements for medical decision making and other standard powers. 

 

If you would like further information regarding this program or would like to book an appointment, please contact the Wills Clinic at 604-424-9600 or email willsclinic@accessprobono.ca    

 

Program Criteria: for low income seniors (Age 55+) and people with a terminal illness. 

Location: The Justice Access Centre, Room 290 800 Hornby St. (By appointment only).

Share