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Legal Advice 1


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Legal Advice 1

  1. 1. Legal advice services LSS provides legal advice through duty counsel assistance, Brydges Line services, family advice lawyers, and LawLINE. Brydges Line Section 10(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides that “Everyone has the right on arrest or detention… to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed of that right...” The province-wide 24-hour toll-free Brydges Line service offers prompt access to emergency legal advice for people who are arrested or detained, or who are under active investigation by the police or other law enforcement agencies but not yet charged with an offence. Interpreter services are available to Brydges Line callers. Those arrested and charged with murder, attempted murder, or manslaughter are referred to a senior lawyer experienced in these matters. LSS, at the request of the Attorney General, established the Brydges Line after the Supreme Court of Canada held in 1990 that when accused people express concern that their inability to afford a lawyer is an impediment to the exercise of their right to counsel, the police have a duty to inform them about the existence of duty counsel and the ability to apply for a legal aid lawyer. Brydges Line calls 2005/2006 – 2007/2008 2007/2008 2006/2007 2005/2006 Calls received 28,360 30,011 30,733 Criminal & immigration duty counsel Criminal duty Private bar lawyers contract with LSS to provide duty counsel services for in- and out-of- counsel custody accused people in most courts. Duty counsel provide the accused with advice about the charges against them, court procedures, and legal rights (including the right to counsel and the right to apply for a legal aid lawyer). Duty counsel often represent accused people at hearings in which these clients are applying for release, entering a guilty plea, and/or speaking to sentence. Immigration Immigration duty counsel at the Vancouver enforcement centre of Canada Border duty counsel Services Agency provide legal advice to people who are being held in custody as a result of immigration proceedings. Duty counsel represent clients at initial detention hearings and may represent them at subsequent hearings if there has been a change in circumstances that could result in release. Eligibility Clients do not have to be financially eligible for legal representation to receive criminal or immigration duty counsel services, but only those who meet LSS coverage and eligibility requirements are entitled to a referral for ongoing representation. Criminal & immigration duty counsel assistance 2005/2006 – 2007/2008 2007/2008 2006/2007 2005/2006 1 2 Criminal 81,216 82,024 75,720 Immigration 832 1,006 989 Note: Totals reflect the number of times advice was given (or the number of calls handled), not the number of clients served or issues addressed (clients may have one or more issues at a time and may access services more than once). 1 Includes duty counsel at circuit courts. In 2007/2008, circuit court accounted for 2,523 client visits. 2 Data for this year includes 2,176 client visits with night-shift duty counsel in Vancouver, which was introduced in May 2006. Legal Services Society 1 13 June 2008
  2. 2. Legal advice services Telephone This project provides legal advice over the telephone outside normal business hours for advice for people who are in custody at police lock-ups awaiting bail hearings. accused in Under the project, which began April 1, 2006, criminal lawyers provide legal custody advice Monday-Friday evenings (6 pm – 10 pm) and on weekends and statutory holidays (8 am – 10 pm). They facilitate consent releases and ensure the accused understand the conditions they are agreeing to, or they negotiate with police prosecutors to ensure bail terms are reasonable when the client is remanded in custody. Where appropriate, they advise the accused to wait for a courtroom bail hearing with duty counsel. These lawyers do not conduct teleconference bail hearings. Interpreter services are available for clients who do not speak English. The service means people who qualify for release no longer have to be kept in custody overnight or on weekends and holidays. It should also help make court processes more efficient. Family duty Family duty counsel are lawyers who can help low-income people deal with family law counsel and child protection problems. Located in courthouses, they can: give legal advice about custody, access, guardianship, and child support; property (limited); tentative settlement agreements; and court procedures; speak for clients in court on simple matters such as adjournments, consent and emergency restraining orders, and uncontested custody, access, and support hearings; attend family case conferences and judicial case conferences with clients; and help clients draft documents, review documents to be filed in court, and negotiate and settle issues. Duty counsel do not provide representation at trial. FDC services are provided on scheduled list days (i.e., first time court appearances) in most BC Provincial Courts for cases involving the Child, Family and Community Service Act (CFCSA); Family Relations Act (FRA); Family Maintenance Enforcement Program, and Family Maintenance Programs. As well, FDC services are available at a number of the busiest Supreme Courts. Scheduling these family duty counsel days is tailored to the needs of each court, in consultation with judges, local lawyers, and the judicial case manager. Typically one lawyer is available twice a week. The Vancouver FDC program is distinct from the others in that it is co-housed with family justice counsellors (FJC) to enhance both services. Client files are maintained and counsel can help clients prepare for their case over several meetings. Details about hours and services in specific locations are available on the LSS website at (under Legal advice). Eligibility Priority is given to people who have matters in court that day and who meet the LSS income test for advice services. Once clients scheduled for court that day have been helped, duty counsel may assist others who need legal advice about family issues (usually 20 – 45 minutes of service, depending on their availability). Family advice LSS and the Ministry of Attorney General’s Family Justice Services Division have lawyers worked together for several years to provide family advice lawyer services at FJC offices in locations where there is an LSS regional centre. Advice lawyers help unrepresented clients prepare their court documents, prepare for their court appearance, and follow up on what took place during the proceedings. The lawyers also help low income parents who are going through the FJC mediation process to settle their separation or divorce matters. Legal Services Society 2 6 March 2008
  3. 3. Legal advice services Clients referred to these lawyers by an FJC or child support officer may receive up to three hours of advice on issues concerning custody, access, guardianship, and child support; property (limited); tentative settlement agreements; and court procedures. Family duty counsel assistance 2005/2006 – 2007/2008 2007/2008 2006/2007 2005/2006 Family duty counsel and advice lawyers 22,371 21,122 18,7891 Note: Totals reflect the number of times advice was given, not the number of clients served (clients may access the service more than once). 1 Over the course of 2005/2006, LSS introduced family duty counsel to 13 Supreme Court locations, which account for 3,508 of clients assisted that year. LawLINE LawLINE provides brief legal services to low income people who cannot access advice alternative legal assistance. It focuses on the areas of poverty, family, criminal, and immigration law for which LSS does not provide legal representation. Brief legal services include legal advice, written opinions, follow-up calls to clients to check progress, phone calls or letters on a caller’s behalf to third parties, help with For LawLINE, call: correspondence and documents, and similar services that can be delivered during or shortly after a telephone conversation. (604) 408-2172 Vancouver area These services do not replace representation by counsel, nor can they meet the needs or of all low income people. However, they can improve the likelihood that the callers without 1-866-577-2525 legal representation will take appropriate action and obtain access to justice. (toll free) The service is accessible in many different languages through online interpreters. As well, the recorded messages people hear before they are connected to staff are available in eight languages in addition to English. As there is a high demand for LawLINE services, callers are advised they may have to wait for a significant length of time to speak with someone. Eligibility Financial eligibility is determined by an income test LSS has established for advice services. CASL The Community Advocate Support Line (CASL) is a dedicated telephone service LSS provides to advocates through a separate LawLINE number. A full-time lawyer gives advocates brief legal advice, information, and coaching in selected areas of law to support their work on behalf of clients. Assistance is primarily for matters involving income assistance, residential tenancy and housing issues (including foreclosure), family law, employment insurance, the Canada Pension Plan (including disability benefits), debt collection and bankruptcy, consumer contracts, and judicial reviews. A two-year pilot project funded by the Law Foundation and the Ministry of Attorney General, the CASL service began in May 2006. Legal Services Society 3 13 June 2008
  4. 4. Legal advice services LawLINE advice services 2005/2006 – 2007/2008 2007/2008 2006/20071 2005/20062 LawLINE brief legal services 8,001 9,824 10,173 Note: Totals reflect the number of calls handled, not the number of clients served (clients may access the service more than once). The average time spent on a LawLINE advice matter (including an initial call and any follow-up services) is about 30 minutes and can be anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 hours. 1 In 2007/2008 LawLINE also handled 7,625 information/referral requests for a total of 15,626 calls. 2 In 2006/2007 LawLINE also handled 6,626 information/referral requests for a total of 16,450 calls. LawLINE issue types 2007/2008 (information, referral, and/or advice services) Issue # % Admin 1,329 7.3 Short Service 1,448 7.9 Aboriginal Law 40 0.2 Consumer Rights 1,566 8.5 Criminal Law 2,484 13.6 Debt 1,067 5.8 Employment 765 4.2 Family Law 5,488 29.9 Health and Estates 1,108 6.0 Housing 1,258 6.9 Human Rights 109 0.6 Immigration & Refugee 366 2.0 Income Security 640 3.5 Torts 660 3.6 Total * 18,328 100 . * This is more than the total calls handled (15,626) because callers may receive help for more than one type of problem. Legal Services Society 4 13 June 2008