Introduction to TRU Community Legal Clinic

By Eli Zbar
CLC Student Clinician, Thompson Rivers University Faculty of Law J.D. Candidate

Founded in January 2016, the Thompson Rivers University Faculty of Law Community Legal Clinic (CLC) is the first legal clinic of its kind in the Interior of British Columbia. The CLC is operated by a passionate team of law students, faculty and lawyers providing legal assistance and information to those otherwise unable to afford it. The office is an open, accessible and inclusive environment committed to improving access to justice.

WHAT WE CAN DO FOR YOU

The CLC practice areas include primarily of:

  • residential tenancy;
  • estate law; and
  • consumer protection.

Due to budgetary and insurance constraints, we have a limited scope of who we can represent and in what areas. For most of my clients, I am only able to provide one-time, summary advice. This summary advice attempts to illustrate a path to resolving their issues using freely available resources such as Clicklaw and the Legal Services Society.

WHO WE ARE

The CLC is the foundation upon which TRU Law is building a rigorous, intensive, student clinician program. I have the distinct honour of filling the first ever full-time CLC summer position. My journey to this point began in September 2015, when I enrolled in “Community Lawyering.” This class, taught by one of the CLC supervising professors, is a prerequisite to becoming a CLC clinician. Once a student successfully completes Community Lawyering, they are eligible to apply to the both the credited and paid clinician positions.

CLC students are exposed to a breadth of legal issues in an unconventional workplace. Our office is located within the pre-existing Kamloops Centre for Services and Information (CSI). The CSI is a well-established hub of community support and activity. People are accustomed to relying on the CSI; it is a one-stop-shop offering everything from our legal counsel, to accounting, to education and bingo. Sharing space with the CSI provides both the exposure and environment necessary to ensure a steady flow of new clients.

Eli Zbar
Eli Zbar

HOW I CAN HELP

Clinical work offers an experience unique from many other law student opportunities. I manage files from intake to closing, with all the steps in between. Since the CLC’s mandate is to serve low-income individuals, I do not facilitate private transactions or business operations.

CLC clients seek our help in situations where immense power imbalances exist, for instance, between landlord and tenant. My clients’ legal issues are intertwined, if not symptomatic of, other challenges they face. Working with this demographic demands a keen understanding of the nexus between socioeconomic, legal, health and other issues. That is why my primary goal is to parse clients’ legal issues and explain where they stand currently in the procedure, and in terms of rights, risks and obligations.

CONTACT US FOR MORE INFORMATION

If you would like to know more about the CLC, please do not hesitate to contact me at zbar.eli@gmail.com, call the CLC at 778-471-8490, or come visit us at Unit 9A-1800 Tranquille Road, Kamloops, BC, V2B 3L9.


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Family LawLINE: Helping BC families with their legal problems

masterlogo-www.lss.bc.ca_blackThe Legal Services Society’s Family LawLINE is a telephone service that assists people with their family law matters, including many who are located in rural and remote areas. Lawyers work from their own offices, using the phone to provide free legal coaching and “next step” legal advice to eligible people across British Columbia. Clients can schedule a number of follow-up phone appointments and share documents by fax or email.

Clients come to the Family LawLINE with a wide variety of family legal issues. There is no “typical client”.  One client may have recently separated and is seeking initial legal advice and assistance to move forward.  Another may be involved in a court process or is seeking assistance to change existing agreements or orders. By using LawLINE, a client has the opportunity to work with a family lawyer to identify goals and desired outcomes, and to develop a step-by-step plan of action.

WHAT SPECIFIC SERVICES DOES FAMILY LawLINE PROVIDE?

Family LawLINE helps people who are representing themselves through all stages of court and collaborative process by providing:00_FamilyLawLine

  • Interpreters, if clients need services in languages other than English
  • Information and advice on court processes, both Provincial and Supreme Court
  • Information and advice on options for resolving legal issues out of court
  • Referrals to other services, including online resources and other public agencies
  • Assistance with preparing documents for court
  • Coaching to help clients:
    • understand the law relevant to their particular case,
    • make more effective court appearances,
    • present evidence properly,
    • prepare for negotiation and settlement,
    • use Public Legal Education and Information tools, and
    • identify their goals and how to achieve them effectively.

HOW DOES SOMEONE GET THESE SERVICES?

To qualify for the Family LawLINE service, a person must:

  • Qualify financially;
  • have an eligible family law issue; and
  • not have a lawyer already working for them.

To find out about eligibility and access the Family LawLINE:

Call the Legal Services Society’s provincial call centre at 604-408-2172 (for Greater Vancouver) or toll free at 1-866-577-2525, Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm and Wednesdays until 2:30.

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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

Note: To keep up to date on the latest news from Rise Women’s Legal Centre, please follow their website here or their Clicklaw HelpMap service listing. Services are subject to change.

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

WLC Staff (2)
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 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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Mediation Advisors Now Available to Assist People with Civil Disputes

By Mediate BC

logo_mediatebc

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

 

 

Stay informed with Mediate BC:

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Legal Resources for Youth

Do you work with children and youth? Here are some interesting services and programs from our Clicklaw contributors that you may not know about:

Bookable Court Tours, Mock Trials & School Workshops

mock_trials_JES_youthJustice Education Society runs a Justice Education Program that provides bookable court tours in various locations across BC and also facilitates youth mock trials: JES helps coordinate about 70 youth mock trials each year, performed by youth ranging from Grade 5 to Law 12 students. Younger participants will use scenarios from popular book series (e.g. Harry Potter), while Law 12 students will perform actual case re-enactments. To read more about how to book a court tour or mock trial, click here.

DCC_frontThe Downtown Community Court (DCC) in Vancouver’s DTES, which opened in 2008, is a partnership between the BC Provincial Court, the Ministry of Justice, and social and health service agencies. Its goal is to reduce crime, improve public safety, and provide integrated justice, health and social services to offenders in a timely manner, while holding them accountable for their actions. DCC offers tours to the general public, school groups and even international visitors, who come to learn about the DCC model. The tour lasts for about 1.5 hours during which the guide will introduce: how the DCC got started, who generally attends at the DCC, a typical day in court, and what integrated programs are connected with the court. Tours are provided on Tuesday and Thursday or by special arrangement. To organize a tour, contact communitycourt@gov.bc.ca.

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People’s Law School runs the Justice Theatre program, delivered throughout the province of BC: a troupe of professional actors perform dramatizations of criminal trials at elementary and secondary schools and to community groups. Each show is designed for participatory engagement. Attendees are encouraged to be part of the jury, to debate the issues and to vote on the overall outcome of the case. Topics can range from: Bullying and the Internet, Bullying and Violence, Stanley Cup Riot, Gang Violence, and Shoplifting. For more information on Justice Theatre, please contact: Rob McAninch 604-331-5400

wcleaf_trendshiftWest Coast LEAF offers workshops for students in Grades 8-12, in Kamloops, Nanaimo and the Lower Mainland. The workshops can be delivered in schools or community groups. The goals of the workshops are to: open a space for discussion with young people about the ways the Internet is used in our lives, and to clear up myths about what the law in BC says about online behaviour. The workshop is 2.5 hours in length and can be offered over 1-3 sessions. Read more about the TrendShift workshops here.

CPABC-logo2Cerebral Palsy Association of BC operates a number of programs for youth with disabilities, including: a Youth Without Limits Support Group – a peer-to-peer support group for people with disabilities – youth and young adults between the ages of 13-29, facilitated by people with disabilities. Youth Without Limits is held in downtown Vancouver. The Cerebral Palsy Association of BC also operates the Navigator for Youth Transitioning to Adult Services, which helps connect youth with the services they need through our specialized information and referral resource. The Navigator service is available for youth aged 14 to 25, their parents and members of their Transition Support Teams. To access this service, call the CPABC office at 604-408-9484, or email Jeanne@bccerebralpalsy.com.

Online Resources

  • Explore the “Children & teens” section of the Clicklaw site to find common questions and resources on: young people and criminal law, parental separation, rights of children & teens, and protecting children.
  • The HelpMap features multiple services that provide help with legal issues related to children & teens here.
  • The Law Foundation of BC and the Representative for Children and Youth have compiled a list of resources and services for children and youth; many of these resources can also be accessed through Clicklaw.
  • Justice Education Society has just soft-launched a new service for youth legal_rights_youth_jes
    at LegalRightsForYouth.ca. What’s new: a virtual assistant to help youth understand basic legal concepts and find the right information. Every weekday from 11am to 2pm, youth can chat live (with LSLAP students) to get answers to their legal questions. During offline hours, youth can ask questions and get answers back by email. Topics include: Working, Renting, Driving, Debt, etc.

Stay Informed:

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Take the first step: Wills and Personal Planning

End of life.

It’s one of those topics that we usually like to dance around or pointedly avoid until a problem is staring us in the face.

I’ve narrowed it down three possible culprits:

  • we may think learning about estate planning and personal planning is too difficult and complicated;
  • we may think it costs too much money; and/or
  • in the context of personal planning, we may easily conceive of accidents happening to us as we explore new and unknown places, but not in our own home, workplace or community.

Here are some ways to take the first step:

MakeAWillPoster2016
Make a Will Week encourages the public to write their will or bring an existing will up-to-date.

There’s no better time than now to start learning about the importance of having these legal documents in place. Think of it like travel insurance–nobody especially likes planning for it, but don’t you want to make sure you’re covered in a crisis?

At the Wills and Personal Planning Resources page on the Courthouse Libraries BC website, you have one page with information guides, forms, free or nominal-fee services, tools, and events—for everyone to use. Did you know about CBA BC’s Dial-a-Lawyer Day coming up on April 16th?

The PDFs are printable and shareable.

What’s Personal Planning? Isn’t a will enough?

If you don’t know about Representation Agreements, Enduring Powers of Attorney and Advance Directives, you’ll want to read more about these important legal planning documents here.

PLS_Nidus_April14
Law Day is April 14, across Canada.

Along with the other Law Week presentations, bookmark Nidus’ topical presentation (free, in-person) at People’s Law School on April 14th, which will cover the key legal documents, as well as:

Check out everything mentioned above here.

All Law Week/Make-a-Will Week Events:

Stay Informed:

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Photo credit: Freepik