Skip to main content

Legal Help

Sometimes, everyday life issues can become legal problems. Law is complicated and it’s hard to know your legal rights and options. You need help, right? Discover free legal help services and resources that can help you deal with your legal issue.

Source:
Reviewed by:
Nov 3, 2021

Start with Ask JES, which is a free service available on this website. You can call, chat live or text your question using the information in the green column on the right. Each year, Ask JES provides free answers to thousands of legal questions. Ask JES provides legal help information and referrals which can help you take the next step to move forward with your legal issue.

In BC, many government departments and non-profit organizations provide free legal help information online. To start, it is important to understand what kind of legal issue you have.

Family Law: Issues related to separation, divorce, protection orders and adoption. See Family Law or HowToSeparate.ca.

Civil Law: Issues related to agreements between people and organizations. This includes issues related to employment, housing, lawsuits, and other legal disputes. For disputes less than $5000, see the Civil Resolution Tribunal. For claims between $5001 and $35,000 see SmallClaimsBC.ca. For claims over $35,000 see SupremeCourtBC.ca. For disputes related to employment, housing and other government regulated issues, see AdminLawBC.ca.

Criminal Law: Issues related to crime, as described in the Canadian Criminal Code. See Crime.

If you are searching for legal help online, be specific about your legal issue and be sure to include “BC” in your keyword search. A great online resource for all legal issues is Clicklaw 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 by Legal Aid BC, Access Pro Bono and BC Advocates.

Source:
Reviewed by:
Nov 3, 2021

In Canada, there is an important difference between legal advice and legal help. Only lawyers can provide legal advice. There are many services and resources that provide free legal help. Free legal advice is provided by Legal Aid BC, Access Pro Bono and BC Advocates.

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.

If you require legal advice, 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. 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.

Reviewed by:
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.

Source:
Reviewed by:
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.

Source:
Reviewed by:
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.

Source:
Reviewed by:
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.

Source:
Reviewed by:
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.

Source:
Reviewed by:
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.

Source:
Reviewed by:
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.

Source:
Reviewed by:
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.

Source:
Reviewed by:
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.

Subscribe to Legal Help