Legal Advocacy Program Presentation


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Legal Advocacy Program Presentation

  1. 1. Legal Information, Support & Advocacy : LEGAL ADVOCACY PROGRAM Funded principally by: the Law Foundation of BC Presentation updated May 2010
  2. 2. Legal Advocacy Program: <ul><ul><li>WHO we are? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>WHAT we do? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>WHO we prioritize? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sample of our cases </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How to make a referral? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What the client can expect </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. WHO ARE WE? <ul><li>Legal Advocacy Program </li></ul><ul><li>Team: </li></ul><ul><li>Program Manager , Legal Advocate & </li></ul><ul><li>Paralegal & </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1 Supervising Immigration Lawyer </li></ul></ul><ul><li>1 Supervising Poverty Law Lawyer </li></ul>
  4. 4. WHAT DO WE DO? <ul><li>We provide: </li></ul><ul><li>legal advice, legal representation and/ or referrals </li></ul><ul><li>to: </li></ul><ul><li>low income immigrants, refugees, and all newcomers regardless of status </li></ul><ul><li>in the area of: </li></ul><ul><li>poverty law and immigration </li></ul>
  5. 5. POVERTY LAW? <ul><li>“ Generally speaking, poverty law refers to legal issues that disproportionately affects persons with low income . …[Poverty Law] encompasses a variety of legal matters, notably those that fall outside the scope of the legal aid tariff structure for criminal, family and immigration law.” </li></ul><ul><li>(Long, Beveridge. “Delivering Poverty Law Services: Lessons from BC and Abroad “ SPARC BC 2004) </li></ul>
  6. 6. Poverty Law : <ul><li>legislative and regulatory matters that fall under these main areas: </li></ul><ul><li>(i)   public benefits programs, such as: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>income assistance; </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>federal and provincial disability benefits (MHSD & CPP); </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>employment insurance; </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>(ii) employment law (basic entitlement under ESA); </li></ul><ul><li>(iii) residential tenancy; </li></ul><ul><li>(iv)   debt and credit matters, and; </li></ul><ul><li>(v)   immigration law as it effects one’s livelihood. </li></ul>
  7. 7. IMMIGRATION LAW: <ul><li>Basically, non-tariff (non legal aid and not related to the refugee determination system) and non-federal court matters that affect low income immigrants’ and refugees’ livelihood within Canada. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Sample of Immigration Law : <ul><li>Humanitarian and compassionate applications (family reunification or landing issues) with merit ; </li></ul><ul><li>Refugee family reunification cases with merit ; </li></ul><ul><li>Stalled permanent residence applications for Convention Refugees; </li></ul><ul><li>Representation at examinations affecting landing of refugees: CSIS and CBSA accompaniments with merit ; </li></ul><ul><li>Temporary Resident Permits (formerly Minister’s Permit); </li></ul><ul><li>Inadmissibility issues such as medical, financial or other meritorious problems; </li></ul>
  9. 9. Priority Given: <ul><li>1) more recent arrivals to Canada; </li></ul><ul><li>2) clients that have difficulty with the English language; </li></ul><ul><li>3) clients that have multiple barriers (such as other disabling factors), and/or; </li></ul><ul><li>4) Where there is not another program mandated to assist that specializes in the area of need. </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>Advice is also provided to internal and external community workers on behalf of their clients. </li></ul><ul><li>Community workers we can speak to us over the telephone or via email. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Sample of our client base in a typical year : *(referral & enquiries only) 3 *Civil 1 Consumer Issues 3 E.I. 1 Pension 4 Emp. Standards 1 *Human Rights 4 Criminal Inquiries 2 *WCB 4 Debt Collection 2 Tenant 7 Income Assistance 3 *Small Claims 15) (*Family Law (referral & enquiries only) 3 PWD 46 Immigration % Case Type % Case Type
  13. 13. Highlights: <ul><li>Family Reunification: The project was successful in landing 5 children who were separated from their mother for 8 years; mother initially came to Canada as a refugee claimant. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Permanent Residence (PR) Status for Convention Refugees: Refugees often find themselves in deep bureaucratic voids due to delays in processing; achieved quite a few successful files after being stuck in system 4-8 years. Recently landed after 21 years . </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>CIC following Geneva Convention in Processing PR of Refugees: with the assistance of the UNHCR senior legal advisor were able to correct some processing mistakes that CIC Inland processing here in Vancouver were making. </li></ul>
  14. 14. How to Make a Referral: <ul><li>Intake appointments are Tuesdays and Thursdays; </li></ul><ul><li>Call or make the appointment with the settlement side receptionist at MOSAIC: 604-254-9626; </li></ul><ul><li>Any questions or concerns about appropriateness of a referral, MOSAIC staff or Community Workers call : </li></ul><ul><li>& ask to speak to program staff , if we are free , we will try and assist with any concerns or questions or provide an alternative referral. </li></ul>
  15. 15. When referring: <ul><li>Please remember to NOT make any promise of assistance ! </li></ul><ul><li>An initial interview is only an intake where information is gathered. </li></ul><ul><li>After meeting with a client, program staff go through a series of steps to assess level of assistance </li></ul>
  16. 16. Please advice the client: <ul><li>To bring all relevant documents and letters; </li></ul><ul><li>All in person appointments are strictly confidential and privileged ; </li></ul><ul><li>Ask client to arrive early to fill out intake form and read disclaimer ( anyone more than 15 min. late will be asked to reschedule ). </li></ul><ul><li>If client needs language assistance please come with them, or ask them to bring a family member or friend </li></ul>
  17. 17. What a client can expect: <ul><li>An initial intake appointment is made; </li></ul><ul><li>Client comes to bilingual reception for an appointment, (for liability reasons we cannot give advice over the telephone or via email); </li></ul><ul><li>Client comes aprx. 10 minutes early and reads our disclaimer and fills out our data and conflicts check form; </li></ul><ul><li>We see the client for an initial confidential and privileged assessment that takes place 30 min.; </li></ul><ul><li>During this assessment we try and gather the appropriate information to understand the issues… </li></ul>
  18. 18. What’s next: <ul><li>we either give the client information right away; or, </li></ul><ul><li>we may have to do more research; and/or , </li></ul><ul><li>consult with one of the supervising lawyers; </li></ul><ul><li>Either during the intake, or within a short period of time, we assess if we can: </li></ul><ul><li>Give legal advice, legal representation and/ or only a referral… </li></ul><ul><li>In order to decide if we can legally represent a client we must do a “ merit assessment” </li></ul>
  19. 19. Merit: <ul><li>reasonable likelihood of success; </li></ul><ul><li>2) amount of time spent vs. results achieved; </li></ul><ul><li>3) value to client - outcome to improve client’s well being. </li></ul>
  20. 20. After assessment: <ul><li>Client’s given a referral with a reason why we cannot represent, or their file is opened: </li></ul><ul><li>If opened: OPENING FILE LETTER sent, and then: </li></ul><ul><li>It is extremely important we have confidence that clients are giving us all relevant information. </li></ul><ul><li>Clients may not ask other advocates, or lawyers, at other agencies or offices, to work on the same issue that we are working on at the same time. They are free to change representation however we must be notified and close their file. </li></ul><ul><li>Update us with all correspondence that they receive regarding their case </li></ul><ul><li>If there are any extra costs like: filing fees, processing fees, extra translation fees, oath taking fees client will be responsible for these costs. </li></ul><ul><li>We work on a file until complete, or no conflicts arise, once file complete client gets a CLOSING LETTER. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Other activities of Legal Information, Support & Advocacy : <ul><li>PLE: Public Legal Education: </li></ul><ul><li>Legal Advocacy Program & Immigrant PLEI Consortium (Carmen Contreras, Immigrant PLEI Worker) </li></ul><ul><li>  LAW REFORM </li></ul><ul><li>Legal Advocacy Program & Front Line Advocacy Workers Coordination Project (Stephanie Smith, Facilitator) </li></ul>