Low Cost and Free Legal Services

Legal Aid in the Lower Mainland

Dictionary_20150522_095232Many people want to avoid seeing a lawyer, fearing the exorbitant fees charged by some law firms.  But having access to proper legal advice is crucial in many situations.  There are many services around the province that offer valuable legal information and advice at a low cost, or in some instances free.  The Red Book Online lists 3,219 results for a search of “legal services” and 271 under the category “legal advice”.  But just as lawyers specialize in specific areas of the law, these services may have a special focus, so check with an Information and Referral Specialist at bc211 to ensure you get the information and service that you need.

There are a multitude of groups that provide resources online as well as information pamphlets, brochures and worksheets providing information about the law, legal process, your rights, and issues that may be affecting you.  Here are a few:

The People’s Law School provides free lectures on a variety of legal topics as well as maintaining a collection of helpful information handouts.

MOSAIC, SUCCESS, and the Immigrant Services Society of BC, have information in a variety of languages to meet the needs of our multi-cultural society.

The Legal Services Society (LSS) offers a number of publications online or available for free through Crown Publications. LSS is well-known for connecting individuals to legal representation.  They provide a range of free legal services to low income individuals including legal information, legal advice and in some cases arranging for a lawyer to take your case.  LSS also arranges Duty Counsel lawyers who are available in courts to assist individuals with their family law, criminal law or immigration law problems.

Access Pro Bono is another service that connects individuals and some non-profits to experienced volunteer lawyers who provide free legal services in a variety of areas.  The organization promotes access to justice in BC by providing summary legal advice at legal clinics around the province, arranging for representation services in specific situations and helps low income individuals prepare wills and other documents.

Law_scales and gavelThe UBC Law Student’s Legal Advice Program (LSLAP)  is a student-run organization that also provides legal advice and representation to those who require and otherwise can’t afford assistance.  Law students under the supervision of a practicing lawyer provide help on a variety of legal issues at clinics located throughout the Lower Mainland.

When you’re facing a legal issue it may seem daunting and you may not know where to start dealing with the problem.  Fortunately, there are resources available.  There are volunteers, individuals and organizations eager to help.  There are lawyers who dedicate a portion or all of their practice to assisting those in need and utilizing their legal education and training to ensure justice is available for everyone.  bc211 is a great first step in identifying what the issue is and finding the right resources for the circumstance.

To contact bc211, dial 2-1-1 from anywhere in the Lower Mainland. You can message us by texting the name of your community to 2-1-1  between 3:30 pm and 11 pm. And you can always find resources by searching The Red Book Online.

This article was submitted by Edward Takayanagi. Edward is a Vancouver lawyer with experience in litigation, business and nonprofit law, and family law. He currently administers trusts for Coast Mental Health and is heavily involved in the community. Edward volunteered for many of the listed organizations as a practicing lawyer.