Changes to the Lawyer Referral Service and Dial-a-Law

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24/09/2019

A legal consultation is like a good night’s sleep. You may not know if or when you’ll have one, but there’s no doubt having one will help you face what lies ahead. However, many people worry they can’t afford the cost of consulting a lawyer about a legal problem. There are low-cost legal resources available, but if you don’t know how to find them it could lead to even bigger legal problems.

That’s why Dial-A-Law and the Lawyer Referral Service are so useful. Dial-A-Law, available online and by phone, offers recorded information on over 130 legal topics. And for everyday situations that need a preliminary consultation, Lawyer Referral can help to answer your first legal questions. Both services are now free.

The management of both services has changed this year, as the Law Foundation of BC has encouraged legal information and service organizations to rationalize and focus their programs to create efficiencies and avoid overlap.

Get legal information from Dial-A -Law
Dial-A-Law is like a library, but instead of books, it’s filled with audio recordings and web pages. It features legal information reviewed by lawyers on over 130 topics.

Dial-A-Law can help increase your knowledge of your legal rights and responsibilities. It’s especially useful for people who prefer to get information by listening rather than reading.

Formerly offered as a public service by the Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch, Dial-A-Law is now being modernized and maintained by the People’s Law School. The Law Foundation of BC continues to provide funding for this free service.

Dial-A-Law is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at dialalaw.ca and by telephone at 1-800-565-5297 toll-free in BC or 604-687-4680 in the Lower Mainland.

How the Lawyer Referral Service Works
You can call the Lawyer Referral Service if you have a legal problem or if you just need to ask a lawyer some legal questions.

The Canadian Bar Association BC Branch operated the Lawyer Referral Service for five decades, with funding from the Law Foundation of BC. In August 2019 the Access Pro Bono Society of BC took over management and operation of the service, and was able to eliminate the small fee previously charged.

The Lawyer Referral Service call centre is still staffed by highly-trained and experienced operators who help assess your situation. They narrow down your concerns to determine whether and how a lawyer might help. Then they may refer you to a lawyer practising the area of law that matches your concern.


The Initial Consultation
With this referral, you can book a free appointment for up to 30 minutes’ consultation with the lawyer. When you meet, the lawyer will explore your legal concerns and help you decide whether you want to pursue your legal matter.

There is no expectation you will hire the lawyer – that’s your choice. And the lawyer is also not obliged to take your case. However, if you and the lawyer do choose to work together, you’ll carry on and pay regular legal fees, the same as any other client.

Who participates in the Lawyer Referral Service?
The lawyer you consult with is one of nearly 2,000 BC lawyers who volunteer their time and legal skills to Access Pro Bono programs, including the Lawyer Referral Service.

Lawyer Referral Service lawyers practice different types of law ranging from family, insurance and human rights law, to motor vehicle, wills & estates and criminal law. They provide a wide range of expertise to match the variety of legal situations callers present.


How the Lawyer Referral Service Protects Your Privacy
Legal services get you through the Lawyer Referral Service are confidential – the lawyers treat your consultation as they would any other client or potential client. This commitment creates a comfortable, open space for questions and answers. To ensure confidentiality, lawyers must abide by a specific set of rules. But if a rule is broken, they can be suspended or removed from the service.

How to Contact the Lawyer Referral Service
Call the Lawyer Referral Service at (604) 687-3221 or toll-free in BC at 1-800-663-1919 Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 5:00pm. Get more information at http://www.accessprobono.ca/lawyer-referral-service.

Are you a lawyer who’d like to join the Lawyer Referral Service?
The Lawyer Referral Service is always adding new lawyers. If you’d like to consider participating, see http://accessprobono.ca/information-lawyers.

A good night’s sleep
When you need legal resources, knowing what’s available and where to find it can help ease your mind and hopefully lead to that good night’s sleep – helping you to face the situation armed with improved knowledge, clearer expectations and appropriate legal support.