This year LSS was given an extra $2 million to kick-start some pilot projects to try and improve access and efficiency for criminal and family law matters. This fall, we’ll be using this money to launch five new projects to help people across BC address their legal issues.
1) Expanded Family Duty Counsel in Victoria
Duty counsel are lawyers who can offer legal advice. For family matters, they’re available to help people with issues related to separations and divorces. They’re currently available throughout the province and the service will soon be expanded at the Justice Access Centre in Victoria to focus on legal coaching to help people resolve their issues.
2) Expanded Family LawLINE
The Family LawLINE is a number you can call to get free legal advice over the phone from a lawyer. We’ll be expanding the level of advice available so that people can send in documents for review and schedule follow-up calls.
3) Mediation Referral
We’re working with Mediate BC to expand the availability of early and affordable mediation services. For people who qualify, LSS will refer them to Mediate BC and they’ll receive four hours of mediation. After those four hours, the mediator can provide more help if needed, based on a sliding scale.
4) Parents’ Legal Centre
A Parents’ Legal Centre will be opened in a community still to be determined. This centre will focus on collaboratively resolving child protection issues. Staff will help parents as they work with the Ministry of Children and Family Development or Delegated Aboriginal Agencies. This help may include providing legal advice and information, support before and at hearings, as well as at Collaborative Planning and Decision Making and other collaborative processes.
5) Expanded Criminal Duty Counsel
Starting in 2015, for some uncomplicated cases, criminal duty counsel will work with the same client over a number of visits to help resolve cases earlier. Currently, people seeing duty counsel just see whoever is available. Cases that aren’t being resolved through expanded duty counsel may receive a legal aid referral.