Elan Rotating Header Image

My life as an LSS intake worker

As an intake legal assistant, I interview clients who apply for legal aid. I do this in person; that is, when clients apply in person at our walk-in clinic in the Vancouver Regional Centre office, at the criminal, youth, and family courthouses, or over a public telephone line called the Call Centre where clients call in from across the province.

A typical day

I had a young mom who came in with her two-year-old son and a family advocate. I gave the child some paper and coloured markers to draw with, to keep him occupied while I spoke to his mom. But the child was not interested in colouring. He started to misbehave and opened the door and ran down the hallway, disturbing the other intake workers who were on the phone or interviewing clients. Not only did he run down the hallway, but he was screaming in the process. I asked the mother to go and get him, which she did quickly. When I was finally able to continue with the interview, her son continued to fuss and scream — even though his mother was now holding him. He got so loud that during the interview, a couple of my colleagues brought the child a ball and some stickers to keep him occupied.  Thankfully, he found the stickers and ball amusing and played while I continued the remainder of the interview.

The mom’s family issue was eligible for a legal aid referral to a lawyer. The lesson I learned that day was to have toys for very young children in my office to keep them occupied while their parents are busy.

My next client had an immigration matter. He was a refugee claimant from Hungary and applied for help with a Personal Information Form. The man had suffered persecution in his country — he was known, or referred to, as a gypsy. He did not speak English so I had to get an interpreter through CanTalk, a language translation company that LSS uses. When we got through the interview, the client was clearly feeling better than when he first came in, and he left smiling — when he first walked into my office, he looked timid, sad, and intimidated.

When newcomers arrive in Canada, some may feel unwelcome or insecure because they don’t know English or for other reasons.

It really makes my day when I can make someone feel like they are being valued and heard. I feel like I’ve done my job when they leave with a warm handshake and a smile on their face.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>