The Law Society is committed to advancing legal aid in BC.

In March 2017, the Law Society released the report "A Vision for Publicly Funded Legal Aid in British Columbia" prepared for the Benchers by the Law Society’s Legal Aid Task Force. Benchers voted unanimously to adopt the vision set out in the report.

The vision concludes that Legal Aid is a crucial part of the proper administration of justice in a free and democratic society. In a society based on the rule of law, every person must have equal access to the justice system. If people do not have equal access to the law, rights and freedoms may be jeopardized. Because there is no equality of resources within society, some people will require aid to enforce their rights or understand their responsibilities.

Read the report: A Vision for Publicly Funded Legal Aid

The Legal Aid Advisory Committee monitors and advises the Benchers on key matters relating to the state of legal aid in British Columbia and advances the Law Society’s Vision for Publicly Funded Legal Aid. Its mandate and terms of reference are available here.

For the lastest updates on our efforts to advance legal aid, follow the Twitter handle @AdvanceLegalAid and Facebook page Advancing Legal Aid for BC.

What is legal aid?

Legal aid offers a range of free legal services to low income individuals and families. It is provided by the Legal Services Society and funded by the provincial government and organizations such as the Law Foundation of BC and Notary Foundation of BC. If you wish to apply for legal aid, contact the Legal Services Society.

Timeline

November 2018

The Law Society will host its second legal aid colloquium on November 17, to follow up on the event held in November 2016. A range of presenters from outside the legal profession will share their vision for what legal aid should look like. The audience will have an opportunity to provide feedback and ask questions so that we can build a better and broader understanding of what legal aid means for everyone. Our goal is to learn from participants' perspectives and have it shape the future of our involvement.


October 2017 – November 2018

The Legal Aid Advisory Committee had preliminary discussions with Prof. Yvon Dandurand and Vivienne Chin to explore the topic of economic analyses of legal aid. Through fall and winter, the committee further explored the topic and in spring 2018 the committee commissioned Dandurand to produce a feasibility study for economic analysis research that would support the economic benefit of funding legal aid. Dandurand’s preliminary findings were discussed on November 8, 2018.

This work is in furtherance of the committee’s mandate to:

  • develop and/or promote research into the benefits of legal aid to society and the justice system;
  • develop and/or promote the creation of proper data analytics systems within the justice system and legal aid to better support analysis of the importance of legal aid in society and the justice system. Such systems should help support not only a business case for properly funded legal aid, but the social justice case as well .

August 2017

The Law Society began a media and government relations campaign to increase public awareness of the importance of legal aid. Members of the Legal Aid Advisory Committee met with their local MLAs to advocate for increased funding to legal aid in BC. In addition, local and regional media published the Law Society's op-eds on why a just society requires properly funded legal aid. Read the op-eds in the Vancouver Sun, Burnaby Now, Merrit Herald, Prince George Citizen, Smithers Interior News and Victoria Times Colonist.


June 2017

The Law Society sent a media release to call on the new government to increase legal aid funding. Read the media release.


March 2017

The Benchers adopted the vision set out in the report A Vision for Publicly Funded Legal Aid in British Columbia. The vision is based on the premise that in a society based on the rule of law, every person must have equal access to the justice system. Because there is no equality of resources within society, some people will require aid to enforce their rights or understand their responsibilities. Legal aid is therefore a crucial part of the proper administration of justice.


November 2016

The Legal Aid Task Force held a colloquium to share and discuss the task force's initial research and findings. The event's participants included judges, lawyers, senior levels of government and key stakeholders. The task force is reviewing the feedback and will provide a final report.


September 2015

Benchers approved the creation of the Legal Aid Task Force to promote and improve access to justice with a focus on legal aid.