COVID-19 Legal Help Information BC| LegalHelpBC.ca (2024)

How can I get free or low cost legal help?

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Jan 24, 2023

Start with Ask JES.

To access this free service, call, chat live or text your question using the information in the green column on the right.

  • Ask JES provides legal help information and referrals
  • Get legal help to take the next step to move forward with your legal issue
  • Each year, Ask JES provides free answers to thousands of legal questions

Family Law:Issues related to separation, divorce, protection orders and adoption.

Civil Law:Issues related to agreements between people and organizations. This includes issues related to employment, housing, lawsuits, and other legal disputes.

Criminal Law:Issues related to crime, as described in theCanadian Criminal Code.

Legal Help Tips

  • If you are searching for legal help online, be sure to include “BC” in your keyword search
  • A great online resource for all legal issues isClicklaw BC
  • If you have a legal problem, it is a good idea to talk to a lawyer to get legal advice. Even if you are going to handle your own case, a lawyer can help you at every step in the legal process. See the answer for “How can I get free legal advice in BC?” to learn about services provided byLegal Aid BC,Access Pro BonoandBC Advocates.

How can I get free legal advice in BC?

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Jan 24, 2023

In Canada, there is an important difference between legal advice and legal help. There are many services and resources that provide free legal help.

To start, if you have legal questions, the Ask JES service available on this website provides free answers to legal questions. You can call, chat live or text your question using the information in the green column on the right. Ask JES does not provide legal advice, but they can help you understand your legal issue and connect you with information and referrals to assist you.

Only lawyers can provide legal advice. Free legal advice is provided byLegal Aid BC,Access Pro BonoandBC Advocates. If you require legal advice, you can contact the BC Lawyer Referral Service for a free 30-minute consultation with a lawyer. Depending on your income and what your legal issue is, you may qualify to get a free lawyer through Legal Aid BC. Generally, Legal Aid lawyers are available for criminal matters and family law matters that involve violence. Legal Aid is not available for civil law issues like: housing, employment, lawsuits, etc. See “How do I get legal aid?” to find out if you qualify.

In addition, Access Pro Bono provides a series of free legal clinic that may provide you with access to a lawyer. Many courthouses also have duty counsel present to provide on-the-spot legal advice. You can contact your local courthouse to see when duty counsel might be available. There could be restrictions regarding what duty counsel can assist you with.

A legal advocate is someone who is trained to help people with a range of legal issues – but they are not lawyers. Advocates work primarily with economically challenged individuals. Advocates commonly provide services in these areas of law: Employment Assistance, Disability Assistance, Social Assistance, Rental Issues, Elder Care, etc. To find an advocate in your area, search the PovNET directory.

Where can I get help filling out court forms?

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Nov 3, 2021

You can now get free help from volunteer paralegals who can help you fill out court forms. Request a virtual appointment at www.LegalFormsBC.ca.

If you have questions about how to answer a specific question on a court form, the Ask JES service may be able to help. Each year, Ask JES answers thousands of legal process questions. See the green sidebar on this website for contact details.

Do I need a lawyer to go to court?

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Nov 3, 2021

No, you do not need a lawyer to go to court. You can represent yourself. However, if you are uncertain about your legal rights, you should consider speaking to a lawyer. You can contact the Lawyer Referral Service for a free 30-minute consultation with a lawyer. Depending on your income and what your legal issue is, you may qualify to get a free lawyer through Legal Aid BC. Generally, Legal Aid lawyers are available for criminal matters and family law matters that involve violence.

See the Representing Yourself section of this website to learn more about how to move your case forward, without a lawyer.

If you have legal questions, the Ask JES service available on this website provides free answers to legal questions. You can call, chat live or text your question using the information in the green column on the right. Ask JES does not provide legal advice, but it does provide information and referrals to help you understand your rights and options on a range of legal issues.

How do I get legal aid?

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Nov 3, 2021

To receive legal representation through Legal Aid, you need to qualify. There is information on the Legal Aid BC website about how to contact them and how to apply.

Legal Aid is only available for certain areas of law, such as crime, and certain family law and immigration related issues. If your legal issue does not fit in those categories, you can find legal information and legal advice in other places. If you have a legal question that does not require legal advice, use the contact information in the right column to Ask JES for free legal help.

If you require legal advice, you can contact the Lawyer Referral Service for a free 30-minute consultation with a lawyer. In addition, Access Pro Bono provides a series of free legal clinic that may provide you with access to a lawyer.

How should I prepare before I meet a lawyer?

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Nov 3, 2021

To get the most from your time with a lawyer, it is helpful to prepare in advance. This is especially true if you are using the Lawyer Referral Service to get 30-minutes of free legal advice.

To start, create a short description of your legal issue. Describe events (with dates) that led to you having a legal dispute. Be sure to list the supporting evidence you have. Do not go into too much detail. Focus on the key issues of the conflict. You should be able to describe your situation in less than 5 minutes. Your lawyer will ask questions if they need more specific information.

Next, prepare a list of questions for the lawyer. Do you understand your legal rights and options? What are the specific legal issues you need to know more about? What information will help you take the next step in the case? You should also discuss ways of resolving your dispute without going to court. Learn about your options to settle the dispute, without a trial. You might want to ask about the legal process your case might follow. You might want to ask for the lawyer’s legal opinion about your situation.

If you are a meeting a lawyer for the first time to decide if you will hire them, you will want to ask additional questions. You want to make sure that you and the lawyer are a good fit – treat it like a job interview. If the lawyer is not able to explain things in a way that you understand or if they keep interrupting you, it might not be the right fit. Be sure to ask about legal fees and expected costs from beginning to the end. It is also helpful to understand how long the lawyer expects that the legal process may take.

How can I get free help to separate or divorce?

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Nov 3, 2021

If you are going through separation or divorce in BC, there are a range of free legal help services and resources.

The BC government provides Family Justice Centres throughout the province which provide free help to address separation/divorce issues. In addition, JES provides free coaching customized to each client through LawCoachBC. Your law coach will provide you with specific information and resources to help you move forward with your separation or divorce.

How to Separate is an online course with information, worksheets and explanations of family laws that may affect your separation. It also provides information about navigating the family court systems.

If you have children, you should take the Parenting After Separation course. This course is mandatory for some court processes. It provides useful information and resources to parents.

What are my legal rights as an employee?

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Nov 3, 2021

Workers in BC have rights respecting health and safety at work. You can expect to complete a health and safety orientation when you start a new job. For more on some of the safety risks you may encounter and your rights on the job, visit Work Safe BC.

In British Columbia, the Employment Standards Branch (ESB) is the government department that provides information and resources for workplace standards for most employers throughout the province.

In British Columbia, you are entitled to overtime if your employer asks you to work more than eight hours in a day or more than 40 hours in a week unless you have an averaging agreement. You can also expect to be paid the minimum wage and if your employer asks you to come to work, then you must be paid for at least two hours even if there is no work to do. You can work for five hours without a break, after five hours, your employer must provide a 30-minute break. You can expect to get at least two weeks of paid vacation every year. If you work for the same employer for more than five years, then your employer must give you three weeks’ paid vacation per year.

If you belong to a union, then your union and your employer negotiate the terms of employment. Your collective agreement sets out your rights and working conditions. Unions are required to follow certain rules that are written in the Labour Relations Code.

To learn more about issues related to employment, see Peoples Law School website or Clicklaw.

How do I file a complaint against an employer?

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Nov 3, 2021

BC's Employment Standards Act is the law that provides minimum standards that employers in BC must follow. The Employment Standards Branch (ESB) is the government department that is responsible for employment standards. It is important to understand that not all jobs are covered by the Act and for some jobs, only parts of the Act apply.

The ESB encourages employees and employers to resolve problems on their own, without government involvement. You can find information and tips about resolving a dispute on the AdminLawBC website under Early Resolution.

If the employee and employer are unable to resolve the issue, you can file a complaint to bring the issue before the ESB. They may conduct an investigation, facilitate a resolution or make a decision regarding a complaint. The Employment Standards Act provides a six-month time limit for filing complaints and a six-month time limit for the ESB to go back to review if an employer owes money to an employee.

What are my legal rights as a tenant?

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Nov 3, 2021

As a tenant, you have both legal rights and responsibilities. In BC, the rules about the rights and responsibilities of residential tenants and landlords can be found in the Residential Tenancy Act and Residential Tenancy Regulation. The Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) is the government office that helps with problems between landlords and tenants. RTB staff provide information about the law to tenants and landlords in BC. The RTB also holds dispute resolution hearings for landlords and tenants when they cannot settle disputes on their own.

The Tenant Resources and Advisory Centre (TRAC) provides a range of information related to renting, tenant disputes and issues with landlords. There is a Renting It Right online course that provides free information for tenants. TRAC also publishes the Tenant Survival Guide that covers a range of renting issues.

I got a traffic ticket, what are my options?

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Nov 3, 2021

There are two ways you can be charged with a traffic offence: a ticket or a summons.

A ticket is a less serious offence. For many offences, including parking, speeding, driving without insurance, and several offences under the Motor Vehicle Act, the police will give you a Violation Ticket (a traffic ticket.) The ticket will show the offence(s) you are charged with and a penalty beside each offence. There is also information on the ticket about how to pay it and how to dispute it.

A Summons or Appearance Notice is a more serious offence such as careless driving or a hit and run. You will get written notice of the offence in the form of a Summons or an Appearance Notice. A Summons is mailed to you or personally delivered to you. An Appearance Notice is given to you by a police officer at the time of offence. These documents describe the offences you are charged with. They also tell you when you need to appear in court. You MUST appear in court. If, for some reason you cannot appear in court, contact the court registrar to inform them. If you receive a Summons or Appearance Notice you may need to talk to a lawyer to get legal advice. A lawyer could represent you in court.

You can dispute a ticket or fine if you feel it was unfair because you didn’t commit the offence. If you agree that you committed the offence you can still dispute the amount of the fine reduced or request more time to pay it. If you don’t agree with a traffic ticket or fine, you have to do it within 30 days of getting the ticket. You will have to register your dispute, then you will have to appear in traffic court. For more about disputing a traffic ticket or fine, go to the ICBC website.

COVID-19 Legal Help Information BC| LegalHelpBC.ca (2024)

FAQs

Who qualifies for legal aid in BC? ›

Financial eligibility for legal representation

Anyone whose net household income and assets fall below set limits is financially eligible for a referral to a lawyer, as long as their problem is covered by LSS rules. Applicants do not have to be financially eligible to receive legal information.

How many hours does legal aid cover in BC? ›

Legal advice is provided by lawyers paid by Legal Aid BC. Family duty counsel lawyers can help you deal with your family law problems if you have a low income. Family advice lawyers might be able to give you up to three hours of free legal advice for your family law problem.

How do I get free advice about employment law in BC? ›

Access Pro Bono's (APB) Employment Standards Program

Contact APB's Employment Standards Program by email at esp@accessprobono.ca or by phone at 604.482. 3195 ext. 1500. Allow up to 2 business days for a call back, and indicate in your message your name, contact information, and your hearing date if one has been set.

Can I get free legal advice in Canada? ›

Legal aid is a government-funded program that provides free legal services to low-income individuals and families in criminal, family, and immigration matters. Each province and territory in Canada has its own legal aid program with varying eligibility criteria.

How much does legal aid pay in BC? ›

The average Legal Aid BC salary ranges from approximately $55,401 per year for Legal Assistant to $94,762 per year for Lawyer. Average Legal Aid BC hourly pay ranges from approximately $25.92 per hour for Paralegal to $28.31 per hour for Legal Assistant.

What cases are not covered by legal aid in Canada? ›

Legal Aid in Ontario covers criminal, family, mental health, benefits and immigration cases. They are not going to get involved in personal injury, liability, real estate, contract or employment law.

Do you have to pay back legal aid in BC? ›

If a client terminates his or her legal aid contract prior to receiving a settlement or judgment, he or she may still be required to repay LSS for any legal fees and disbursem*nts paid by LSS on behalf of the client.

Is Legal Aid BC a government agency? ›

LABC is a non-profit organization created by the Legal Services Society Act in 1979 to provide legal aid to people with low incomes in BC. We're funded primarily by the provincial government, and also receive grants from the Law Foundation of BC and the Notary Foundation of BC.

How much do lawyers make in BC per hour? ›

As of Jun 22, 2024, the average annual pay for a Corporate Lawyer in British Columbia is $151,714 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $72.94 an hour. This is the equivalent of $2,917/week or $12,642/month.

What is not covered by the Employment Standards Act BC? ›

Some workers are not protected by the Employment Standards Act. This includes workers in self-regulated professions – for example, doctors, lawyers, and accountants. It also includes people who have their own business. Workers can be hired as a company employee or as an independent contractor.

What are your 3 rights as a worker in BC? ›

Under occupational health and safety legislation across Canada — as exemplified in BC's Workers' Compensation Act and Occupational Health and Safety Regulation — three main rights of employees include the right to know, the right to participate and the right to refuse dangerous work.

What if I can't afford a lawyer in BC? ›

Access Pro Bono Legal Clinics throughout B.C. offer free appointments with a lawyer for people who cannot afford a lawyer and do not qualify for legal aid. The Law Centre in Victoria offers free legal advice and representation to eligible clients who cannot afford a lawyer.

How can I pay for a lawyer with no money in Canada? ›

In Canada, various methods exist for persons in need of legal representation. They may include:
  1. Qualifying for a Legal Aid Ontario Certificate.
  2. Accessing the assistance of Duty Counsel.
  3. Relying on Family Law Information Centers or Student Legal Aid Services Societies.
  4. Having a prepaid legal insurance plan.
Oct 31, 2022

How much does a good lawyer cost Canada? ›

Hourly rates of lawyers range from $300-$600 while law clerks charge lower rates from $150 to $250 per hour. Litigation is an expensive undertaking due to the time and effort spent on the case .

How does legal aid work in BC? ›

The LSS provides legal services to people who can't afford a lawyer and provides legal education and legal information to the people of British Columbia. The LSS provides these services through a mixed delivery system of staff lawyers and private bar lawyers.

What if you can't afford a lawyer in BC? ›

Access Pro Bono Legal Clinics throughout B.C. offer free appointments with a lawyer for people who cannot afford a lawyer and do not qualify for legal aid. The Law Centre in Victoria offers free legal advice and representation to eligible clients who cannot afford a lawyer.

What is a separation agreement BC? ›

It means that you and your spouse agree about getting a divorce and that you agree about all of the family law issues relevant to your situation, such as spousal support, and the division of family property and debts.

What is the maximum income to qualify for legal aid in Saskatchewan? ›

Financial Eligibility
Family sizeNet Annual Income Max ($)Assets Test Max amount claimant can have ($)
Family with two children15,0003,500
Family with three children17,7003,500
Family with four children20,4003,500
Family with five children23,1003,500
6 more rows

Who funds legal aid BC? ›

We're funded by the provincial government, with additional support from the Law Foundation of BC and the Notary Foundation of BC. We're accountable to the public and remain independent of government.

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