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.
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
As a legal centre, Rise offers a multitude of services for women facing family law issues.
At Rise, youcan:
meet with a student advisor;
receive summary advice;
receive unbundled services such as drafting of documents for your legal proceeding;
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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?
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?
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 Centres. Phone to book an appointment at the numbers below:
Victoria Mediation Advisor
225 – 850 Burdett Ave
Victoria, BC V8W 1B4
Vancouver Mediation Advisor
290 – 800 Hornby Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 2C5
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
Justice Education Society runs a Justice Education Programthat 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.
The 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
West 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.
Cerebral 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.
Explore the “Children & teens” sectionof the Clicklaw site to find common questions and resources on: young people and criminal law, parental separation, rights of children & teens, and protecting children.
Justice Education Society has just soft-launched a new service for youth
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.
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:
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?
April 16, 10am-2pm: Dial-a-Lawyer Day – Over the Phone – Free 15 minute consultation with a lawyer in these areas of the law: Business, Criminal, Employment, Family, Foreclosure, Immigration, Real Estate, Torts & MVA, Wills & Estates. Multiple languages available.
Family and civil law issues: separation, divorce, income security, employment, housing and debt.
A range of information and services are available, designed to help you find an early and affordable solution.
If you don’t live in Vancouver, Victoria or Nanaimo, see “How Can I Get in Touch?” at the end of this post for phone numbers you can call for information.
Specific services that JACs offer:
meet with intake staff who assess your needs;
get informed about the Family Law Act, the Divorce Act, and various other civil-related legislation;
get informed about the different levels of court and related court procedures;
get a referral to a mediator (family justice counsellors and other mediation options), other dispute resolution professionals, legal services and community resources;
access Provincial and Supreme Court forms; and
get help with court forms and access computers and dedicated staff for assistance in the Self Help Resource Room (In Nanaimo, if you would like self-help assistance, book an appointment with an interviewer in advance. You can also get help with simple forms on the phone.)
Help from Partnering Agencies at some JAC locations:
Practical, accessible, and affordable choices to prevent, manage and resolve non-family civil disputes (any kind of dispute outside of: separation and divorce, personal injury, child protection or criminal matters).
Vancouver and Victoria have an onsite Mediation Advisor who can explore and help connect people to civil mediators; Nanaimo clients are referred to Victoria.
Family Duty Counsel (FDC) and Family Advice Lawyer (FAL) services (Provincial and Supreme Courts) are available for those who are seeking legal advice in relation to family matters and who do not qualify for legal representation through Legal Aid. FDC and FAL can provide advice about:
Free and confidential help for consumers. A Counsellor will review your monthly budget, including: income, expenses and debt payments, and can provide information and guidance to help you make informed, financial decisions.
APB offers a number of programs which are offered onsite at the JAC (by appointment only, see contact info at end of post):
Legal Advice Clinic – Volunteer lawyers provide 30 minute free legal advice appointments for civil and family law issues. Call for financial criteria.
Wills Clinic Program – In partnership with the federal Department of Justice and the Provincial Ministry of Justice, APB operates a Wills clinic for low-income seniors (ages 55+) and people with terminal illnesses.
Court Form Preparation Clinic (Paralegal Program) – Vancouver JAC only. In partnership with Amici Curiae; support for self-represented litigants who need assistance in preparing BC Supreme Court, BC Court of Appeal, and BC Human Rights Tribunal documents.
How can I get in touch?
The Self Help Resource Rooms are in-person ONLY (no telephone assistance).
Reception and Intake Services can be reached by phone or drop-in.
Located at the Vancouver Provincial Courthouse, #290-800 Hornby Street.
Hours are M-F, 8am-5pm, extended hours until 7pm on Wednesday by appointment, until 5:15pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Self-Help Resource room is open 8:30-4pm.
Call 604.660.2084 or toll-free at 1-800-663-7867 and ask to be connected to 604.660.2084. The centre serves Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. If you can’t travel to the centre, call for information.
Located at 225 – 850 Burdett Avenue.
Hours are M-F 8am-5:30pm, extended hours until 6:30 on Thursday. Self-Help Resource Room is open 9-4pm.
Call 250.356.7012 or toll-free at 1-800-663-7867 and ask to be connected to 250.356.7012. The centre serves Victoria and the surrounding south Vancouver Island and Gulf Island communities. If you can’t travel to the centre, call for information.
Located at 302 – 65 Front St.
Hours are M-F 8-5:30pm, with extended hours on Wednesday until 7pm by appointment only.
Call 250 741-5447 or 1-800-578-8511. The centre serves Nanaimo and the surrounding mid-Island communities. If you can’t travel to the centre, call for information.
Note: JACs are not able to provide support or services for criminal issues, small claims court forms and filings, and some other specific legal solutions.
The Chief Judge cannot comment on individual cases, and may not be able to answer all questions during the Town Hall, but efforts will be made to answer outstanding questions on the Court’s website after the event.
Phishing is a general term for scam e-mails, text messages and websites designed to look like they come from well-known and trusted organizations in an attempt to collect sensitive information.
How to sniff out a phishing scam:
Phishing content is intended to trigger a quick reaction. It can use upsetting or exciting information, or demand an urgent response.
Typically, phishing messages will ask you to “update”, “validate”, or “confirm” your account information to avoid dire consequences, online or over the phone.
Often, the message or website includes official-looking logos and other identifying information taken directly from legitimate websites. Government, financial institutions and online payment services are common targets.
Preventive measures you should take:
Watch out for e-mail or text messages with urgent requests for personal or financial information. Financial institutions normally don’t use e-mail to confirm an existing client’s information.
Contact the organization at a telephone number from a credible source. Official website, back of your credit card, phone book or a bill.
Never e-mail personal or financial information.
Avoid embedded links in an e-mail claiming to bring you to a secure site.
Look at a website’s address line in your browser.
Regularly update your computer protection with anti-virus software, spyware filters, e-mail filters and firewall programs. Check out AV-Comparativesfor reviews and reports of real-time protection antivirus programs.
Regularly check your bank, credit and debit card statements to ensure that all transactions are legitimate.
Fraud Prevention: Banks work hard to prevent their customers from becoming victims of any kind of financial fraud. The Canadian Bankers’ Association website offers tips on credit card fraud, debit card fraud, identity theft, phishing, vishing, and real estate fraud.
Government of Canada: The national list of Top 10 Scams was unveiled at news conferences in Vancouver and Montreal for Fraud Prevention Month. It was compiled by Better Business Bureaus in nine provinces with input from the Quebec-based Option Consommateurs as well as the Competition Bureau.