With so many of us working remotely, the June issue of BarTalk is a digital-only issue. Watch for our next print issue in October. 

Read the June issue in magazine format here.

Advocates Funded by the Law Foundation of British Columbia

As part of its work to enhance access to justice, the Law Foundation of BC now funds more than 100 advocates throughout BC — approximately 90 poverty law advocates in 50 programs, and more than 25 family law advocates.

December 2019

As part of its work to enhance access to justice, the Law Foundation of BC now funds more than 100 advocates throughout BC — approximately 90 poverty law advocates in 50 programs, and more than 25 family law advocates. To ensure that all the legal advocates have core advocacy skills and substantive legal knowledge relevant to their work, it is a condition of grants to advocacy programs that any advocate working more than half time take two weeks of training and be assessed, or prove an equivalency of skills and knowledge.

Since early 2008, the Legal Advocacy Training Course (“LATC”) has trained poverty law advocates. A wide variety of experts in poverty law and skilled advocates were involved in developing the curriculum and assessment tools in the course. LATC includes sessions on poverty law issues such as: welfare, disability benefits, residential tenancy, debt, human rights, and employment issues. Students also do practical work with mock interviews, legal research, and case preparation.

In 2018, the Board approved funding for 20 family law advocacy programs and a two-week program to provide training in core skills and legal issues. Again, the Family Legal Advocate Training Course was developed in consultation with an advisory committee of lawyers, advocates and other staff working in family law. Sessions cover issues such as guardianship and parenting time, child and spousal support, violence issues, mobility, and child protection, as well as practical training in advocacy skills.

In addition to initial core training, the Law Foundation has instituted a variety of ongoing supports for their funded advocates. New advocates have the opportunity to shadow other, more experienced advocates if training is not available when they start work. All advocates funded by the Law Foundation consult on a regular basis with supervising lawyers contracted by their organization, and have access to “advocate support” lawyers, experts in poverty and family law issues, who are available to support advocates in a variety of ways.

Advocates also have the option of taking courses in person or online to fill gaps in their knowledge, and each year advocates from around the province attend a 3-day conference with opportunities for professional development and important networking. Finally, the Foundation provides new advocates with resources relevant to their work: new family law advocates get CLE materials and a subscription to DivorceMate.

Advocates funded by the Law Foundation benefit from a solid network of training and support. This, in turn, benefits their clients and ensures that programs funded by the Law Foundation provide consistent, dependable service.