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.
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.
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.
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.
Justice Education Society, one of the organizations that contributes its resources directly to Clicklaw, has added new resources:
CourtInformation.ca provides free legal information for new immigrants. It is the home of the Court Information Program for Immigrants. The program eliminates language and cultural barriers and enhances access to the courts and to justice for immigrants and refugees.
- Downtown Community Court Videos
Vancouver’s Downtown Community Court reduces crime and improves public safety by addressing the underlying problems that lead to crime. Videos produced by the Justice Education Society introduce you to the court, explain how it works, and detail how the court is working with the community. Follow three fictional offenders as they make their way through the court.
Among the new resources on Clicklaw are two new publications from Legal Services Society, as well as updates of two of their more popular titles.
- Surviving Relationship Violence and Abuse
This new booklet, which replaces the booklet Speaking of Abuse: Violence Against Women in Relationships, is written for advocates, support workers and others who support women who are being abused. It outlines what abuse is from a legal perspective and what a woman’s legal rights are if she is in an abusive relationship. It explains what women can do to protect themselves and their children, and the kind of help they can get.
- Are You Aboriginal? Do You Have a Bail Hearing? Are You Being Sentenced for a Crime? Do You Know About First Nations Court?
This new fact sheet provides an overview of Gladue rights, which are rights under the Criminal Code that apply to anyone who self-identifies as Aboriginal. The fact sheet explains what these rights mean for Aboriginal people who have a bail hearing or are being sentenced for a crime. The fact sheet also provides information about the First Nations court in New Westminster.
As well, two of our favourite publications have been updated:
- Consumer Law and Credit/Debt Law
A manual for paralegals, legal information counsellors, and lawyers that covers 45 topics, including consumer contracts, bankruptcy, creditors, debtors, fraud, leases, mortgages and foreclosure, prepayment rights, recovery of goods, and torts of assault and trespass. Also provides consumer and debtor resources. This 200 page manual takes a problem solving approach, identifying potential client problems and summarizing the applicable law and options available for the client.
- Your Welfare Rights: A Guide to BC Employment and Assistance
Explains who is eligible for welfare, how to apply for welfare, what benefits are available, your responsibilities while on welfare, how to appeal a decision about your benefits, and how to get more information or help.
We’ve updated our Clicklaw blog, and have a new feed for subscribers. Receive updates from the Clicklaw blog by RSS or email by subscribing at:
If you are currently subscribed to the Clicklaw blog (formerly called the PLEI Portal blog), we ask that you update your subscription to this new feed. We’ll be phasing out the previous subscription feed over the next two weeks (for the record, the previous feed was: http://feeds.feedburner.com/pleiportal).
We’ve been working on improving Clicklaw! Drawing on usability testing and feedback, we’ve been working on making Clicklaw easier to use & more helpful. Here are six things we’ve done:
- Additional resources: We added over 200 new resources to the Solve Problems section to fill gaps in the legal information available.
- Clicklaw subtopics: We added subtopics to resources to improve the experience of browsing on Clicklaw.
- Common questions: There are now over 100 “common questions” on the site, featuring resources that are good starting points for information on common legal problems.
- Resources in languages other than English: We made it easier to find resources on Clicklaw that are in languages other than English.
- What’s new: A blog highlighting new resources is now featured on the Clicklaw homepage.
- Facebook & Twitter: Clicklaw has arrived on Facebook and Twitter!
Oh, and we’ve taken off the “Beta” label. Clicklaw is now all grown up. Of course, we will continue to evolve and make improvements to the site to meet the needs of Clicklaw users. Visit www.clicklaw.bc.ca and let us know what you think, either by filling out this short survey, posting a comment on this blog posting, or sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And spread the word!
The number of legal services listed on the Clicklaw HelpMap continues to grow with 78 services offered in over 750 locations across BC! Recently, the Legal Services Society added their Provincial Court Family Duty Counsel and Supreme Court Family Duty Counsel programs to the map. Check out what’s available in your community: www.clicklaw.bc.ca/helpmap.
Now that Clicklaw has been up & running for closing in on a year (wow, time flies!), we’re learning more about how the site is being used. Among the more popular features on the site are the common questions, which offer good starting points for 80 questions that are, well, common. Over the last six months, here are the top 10 most visited common questions on Clicklaw:
- I am the executor of my mother’s will and am doing the work myself
- I’ve been dismissed (fired) without just cause
- I want to find out about getting BC disability benefits
- I’ve missed a few mortgage payments and am facing foreclosure
- How long will my EI last if I get laid off?
- I am being harassed by debt collectors. Are they allowed to do that?
- Our marriage is over; do we have to go to court?
- Should I have an enduring power of attorney or a representation agreement?
- I’m being sued in small claims court
- Can they search my school locker without my consent?