Dial-a-lawyer event in B.C. sees increased volume

  • April 16, 2016

Chad Pawson for CBC News

For the 15th year in B.C., two dozen lawyers will volunteer their time to give 15 minutes of free legal advice for callers to a hot line.

"Certainly over the past few years the economy hasn't been great, and I think people are looking for ways they can save all around," said Jennifer Chow, president of the B.C. branch of the Canadian Bar Association. "And if they can save on legal costs certainly they will seek that out."

"With some of the cut backs that we've seen over the years [to] legal aid services, it has driven people to seek different ways of getting free legal advice," she added.

The free call in — which now answers 300 calls in fours hours — will take place on Saturday, April 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. PT and is available in ten different languages.

It's part of the CBA's Law Week, which has been held across Canada since 1983 to help people understand and access the justice system.

Lawyers on the free call-in can cover questions relating to:

  • Family law.
  • Wills and estates.
  • Tort and motor vehicle accidents.
  • Immigration.
  • Business.
  • Criminal law.
  • Employment.

Most of the time, the free 15 minutes helps people figure out if they need more legal services, or what exists to help them accomplish their goals on their own. For example, buying an at-home will kit rather than hiring a lawyer or notary.

Chow's only caution with the free 15 minutes is to realize how quickly it goes.

"I think sometimes with 15 minutes you forget that's a very short period of time, and you start off wanting to tell the whole story. And then by the end of the 15 minutes you realize that you haven't really answered a question, or asked a question."

Chow advises callers to write down a focus statement before speaking with one of the lawyers volunteering their time.