Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New Feature On The Clicklaw Website: HelpMap

New on the Clicklaw Blog this week:

A HelpMap was recently added to the Clicklaw website. Integrated with Google Maps, HelpMap assists the public in finding those who can provide assistance with legal problems in their community. It also assists service providers who are making referrals for clients who have legal issues. HelpMap includes information about legal services provided by groups including:

- pro bono clinics, community legal clinics, and legal aid offices
- court registries
- courthouse libraries
- organizations with community legal advocates
- Native Courtworkers
- free and low cost legal services
- other law-related helping services

Many more services will be added to HelpMap in the future. If you have any feedback about the new HelpMap, you can post a comment on the blog post of December 22nd, or email editor@clicklaw.bc.ca.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Incidence of legal problems surveys

As the LawMatters project prepares for the second annual legal reference survey of selected BC public libraries [see blog posts of March 5 and September 10, 2009], it is interesting to see which legal topics are reported as most often experienced in other jurisdictions, and how frequently people experience legal problems.

The following are excerpts from Civil Legal Needs Research Report by Carol McEown for the Law Foundation of BC, 2nd Edition [39 pp PDF] March 2009. The report summarizes research from several provincial, national and international studies:

Results of legal needs studies

Citizens experience legal problems in the course of their daily lives. Many of these problems are seen to be difficult to resolve and have serious consequences. Canadian civil legal needs studies suggest that over 1,500,000 adults in BC will experience one or more serious legal problems in a three-year period.

  • Consumer, debt, and employment problems occur more frequently than other problems and people will most likely try to resolve these problems themselves or, in the case of employment problems, look to their union or a government agency to help.

  • Housing issues and neighbour problems rank third in the BC survey and second in the 2008 Canadian Study.

  • Family, wills, and personal injury cases also occur frequently. People most often seek legal assistance for family law problems, wills and threat of legal action.

  • People with low incomes and/or who are otherwise disadvantaged tend to experience more problems than average, especially in the areas of debt, family law, housing, income assistance, and mental health. If they are unable to find help, they tend to experience more serious consequences and have further problems that can result in a downward spiral.

    [excerpts from pp 31 - 32]

Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Legal Information Online Update

New on Clicklaw website:

* Brydges Line wallet card, Legal Services Society, 2009. Help for individuals who are in police custody, arrested, or detained and want to speak to a lawyer free of charge.

* Dealing with a Problem Roommate factsheet, Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre, 2009

* PATHWAYS: The Family Law Diagnostic Tool interactive website, The Law Centre, 2009

Other new titles:

* Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship study guide, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, [83 pp PDF] November 2009

* Native Land Claims and Treaties in BC Law Connection, SFU Centre for Education, Law & Society and Justice Education Society, November 2009

* Privacy Rights in the Digital Age Transitions, from the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities. Contains articles on E-Health and privacy issues. Fall 2009

* What Every Renter Needs to Know series of 3 videos from Residential Tenancy Branch of BC Ministry of Housing and Social Development. Topics include Beginning of the Tenancy, Security and Pet Damage Deposits and Ending the Tenancy. 2009

* What is an Aboriginal delegated agency? Frequently asked question from Family Law in BC website, Legal Services Society, December 2009

* From JP Boyd's Family Law in BC website: New Rules 101 , an overview of new BC Supreme Court family law rules; Blog posts include 'Website Begins Integration of New Rules', December 7, 2009 and 'Section 15 Reports', December 3, 2009.

* From Cleonet: Bylaws, letters patent, and constitutions Audio interview, Charity Village, November 30, 2009
When an organization in Canada seeks incorporation, it is necessary for them to have a consitution, bylaws, and letters patent in place. This podcast explains each of these terms, describes what types of information must be included in each document, and suggests where organizations can go for more information on preparing them.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Squamish Public Library Hosts Community Legal Information Forum

Picture: networking at the forum

Another very successful community legal information forum was held on October 21st. Hosted and chaired by Squamish Public Library reference librarian Marie Palmer, the event included representatives from Service BC, Squamish Helping Hands shelter, RCMP Community Policing, Squamish Chamber of Commerce, Quest University, Sea-to-Sky Community Services, Seniors Connections, Howe Sound Women's Centre, Squamish Council, Povnet, Legal Services Society and LawMatters. Participants discussed local services, and the gaps in local legal resources, and it was agreed that regular meetings of community groups as well as a local directory of services would be good follow-up results of this meeting.

Evaluation comments included appreciation for:
  • "Knowing the library will be spearheading all legal resources links for Squamish"

  • "Connecting in person with individuals - the opportunity to gather resources and do round-table introductions - the Clicklaw website sounds great!"

And some suggestions:

  • "Maybe have a longer break for one-on-one networking."
  • "Provide more information to lawyers and law firms re services available."

We plan to hold legal information forums around the province; if you would like a forum in your community, please contact jfreeman@courthouselibrary.ca .

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Training Opportunities in Legal Information

The following courses in legal information are available for all staff who work in public or Aboriginal libraries in BC, through the BC Public Library Services Branch :

*2 hour webinar on QP LegalEze Nov. 9, Nov. 12
*1.5 hour webinar on Family Law in BC Nov. 10, Dec. 2

You can register here for these webinars.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

New Legal Information Online Update

* MOSAIC has launched a newly designed website which includes a client involvement page to empower immigrants and refugees with personal stories and services.

* Criminal Justice Reform Projects: Vancouver's Downtown Community Court web page includes information on the the community court's first year of operation. September 18, 2009

* Employment Law articles by lawyer Robert Yeager from Business in Vancouver magazine

* new publications from Legal Services Society:

- No Contact Orders Explained [2 pp PDF] updated July 2009

- What You Need to Know About Fraud Charges and Social Assistance [1 p PDF] August 2009

- If You Can't Get a Lawyer for Your Criminal Trial [21 pp PDF] May 2009

- new on Legal Services Society's Family Law in BC website:

--What's New in Family Law: Appeals to the Court of Appeal regarding the interjurisdictional abduction of children September 10, 2009

Two frequently asked questions:
--Can Immigration Canada ask me for proof that my past common-law relationship is over before I can sponsor my new husband?

-- Am I married if we live common law long enough?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

New Legal Information Online Update

* From Legal Services Society:
- How Does a Court Order Affect Me? [2 pp PDF] June 2009
- How can you prove you are separated if you and your spouse still live together? [fact sheet on Family Law in BC website] August 2009

*New resources from the Clicklaw blog :
- The UBC Law Students Legal Advice Program (LSLAP) Manual , 2009 version, was added to Clicklaw on September 16. The Manual contains 23 chapters of legal topics, plus one chapter of referral resources.

- The BC Centre for Elder Advocacy & Support (BC CEAS) launched a new website in July which features their services such as the Seniors Help and Information Line, the Elder Law Clinic and an online Ask a Legal Question service. BC CEAS publications are also listed on Clicklaw, and include Fact Sheets on Abuse of Older Adults, Reporting Crimes to the Police and What Happens When You Make a Report, Where to Get Legal Help, Giving Other People Authority to Help You Manage Your Affairs, and Identity Theft: Now What Do I Do?

- People’s Law School added a series of animated videos and factsheets to Clicklaw in September. The series explores problems that arise with credit cards with the following video titles: What’s a Credit Card?, It’s Not Free Money!, Call the Company!, and Ask For Help! The four fact sheet titles are: What is a Credit Card?, What Does a Credit Card Cost?, Lost or Stolen Cards and Chargebacks , and What to Do When You Are in Debt.

* From lawyer blogs:
- The Non-Lawyer Agent: Can My Friend Represent Me In Court? , Shannon Salter's Rights & Remedies blog August 14, 2009.
- What Custody and Guardianship Really Mean, JP Boyd's Family Law Resource Blog August 7, 2009

* New resources on Ontario's Cleonet.ca include:
- Abuse is Wrong Department of Justice Canada [30 pp PDF] 2009
- Claiming Refugee Status in Canada Because of Gender-Related Violence [web page Q & A] Ontario Women's Justice Network, July, 2008

Thursday, September 10, 2009

LawMatters Project News: Evaluation Report and CLTP Online Course

* A recent report, LawMatters Summary of Activities and Evaluation Findings (9 pp, August 2009) is now listed on the LawMatters site [scroll down to Evaluation Reports]. The report includes training activities and results from the 2009 legal reference survey held in public libraries. Legal topics was one of the survey categories, and the findings showed that the most frequently asked legal questions in libraries consisted of real estate and housing issues, followed by family law, wills and estates, and immigration issues. Another survey will be conducted in January 2010 to compare the incidence and type of legal questions libraries receive.

* The LawMatters online course “Legal Information Sources” is available to any public library staff, and is offered in partnership with the Public Library Services Branch. There are still a few spaces left in the eight week course that starts in October 2009, and further information is available at the Community Library Training Program page. We hope to offer more online training options in the future, in the form of screencasts, podcasts and slide-share presentations.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Patron Story: Researching Case Law at the Public Library

The following story was sent to us from Jenny Fry [clearly a super-librarian!] at Surrey Public Library:

"An animated gentleman named Billy approached me at the Information Desk last night, clutching a bunch of papers. He was going to court in the morning to make a Charter argument and dispute a ticket because the statute of limitations had expired for the Crown to bring this matter to court. He wanted an example of a similar case.

I went to the Surrey Public Library website – Information Online – Popular Websites –
Law & legislation – and I chose CANLII. I selected the BC database, and typed: 'charter argument'.

I got a list of cases, looked for the keywords that most closely matched Billy’s situation and found 2 relevant cases within a couple minutes. I printed them off for him and he was absolutely thrilled and thoroughly appreciative.

So, thanks for making it quite easy for me to fill an urgent legal information request from a desperate patron, who had no chance of finding this information on his own – the court told him to go to the public library to get what he needed and he is computer-illiterate. He was profoundly grateful and his repeated thank-yous lasted almost as long as it took for me to find those two cases to answer his question."

And thank you Jenny, for sharing this story. We welcome any stories that show the impact of accessible legal information. It would be interesting to know if your patron was successful in presenting his case in court, but that may be a story for another day!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New Legal Information Online Update

* Changeville, from the Justice Education Society, is an online world for BC children to explore legal information and feelings about divorce and separation.

* Children’s Rights is a script on Dial-A-Law that explains whether children can choose which parent to live with, children's rights if hospitalized against their will, and whether children have input in child protection cases. [5 pp] 2008

* DriveSmartBC is a web site about traffic safety in BC, authored by a retired RCMP officer. It includes information such as How to Deal with a Traffic Ticket and many FAQs about driving in BC.

* The Alberta Legal Resource Centre (LRC) now has a blog called Blogosaurus Rex which includes podcasts and commentary on current legal issues. One of the LRC's websites is Canadian Legal FAQs which published a new resource on Bankruptcy in a Q & A format. July 2009

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

New Family Mediation and Free Legal Advice Services

* Free Family Mediation Services
Up to six hours of mediation services are now available to eligible families living in non-urban areas of British Columbia through the B.C. Mediator Roster Society’s Distance Mediation Project . The Project will use current information and communication technologies, and is expected to run for approximately six months, ending November 30, 2009.

* Free Legal Advice Event Provided By Volunteer Lawyers
In September 2009, volunteer lawyers will participate in a free legal advice-a-thon in the streets of Vancouver, Kelowna and Victoria in order to raise awareness and funds for BC's pro bono programs. The advice-a-thon will assist low and modest income people, including the homeless, with their legal problems.

* Elder Law Clinic
The first free legal advice clinic for older adults in Western Canada was opened in 2008 by the BC Centre for Elder Advocacy and Support . The Elder Law Clinic is located in Vancouver, and receives referrals from the Seniors Information and Help Line . BC CEAS also publishes a Legal Advocacy Brochure in nine languages.

Friday, July 17, 2009

New Legal Information Online Update

* People's Law School released an updated version of Writing Your Will , 2nd ed. [8 pp PDF] April 2009

* In the past year, the Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch has published two new Dial-A-Law scripts: Applying for a Temporary Order in a Family Lawsuit , January 2009 and Income Assistance: Reconsideration and Appeals , September 2008. The script Noise, Untidy Premises and Dog Control was updated with more information, to Neighbour Law September 2008.

* BC Civil Liberties Association published Privacy: Why It’s Important and How to Protect it in May 2009. The web resource includes: how to protect yourself from identity theft and from spam, phishing and spyware; when credit reporting agencies can collect and disclose information about you; and when you have to give out your Social Insurance Number.

*Legal Services Society has revised and updated two booklets: What to Do If You Are Charged with a Breach of a Court Order, [13 pp PDF] May 2009 and What to Do If You Are Charged with Assault [12 pp PDF] May 2009 . A useful list of Resources for clients with credit/debt issues was published in the latest issue of their newsletter Elan.

* Shannon Salter's Rights & Remedies blog published When does a step-parent have to pay child support? in April 2009.

* Surrey Public Library's Law, Government & Statistics page provides an extensive list of legal databases and recommended websites. Updated July 14, 2009.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

New Legal Information Online Update

*A news release was issued by the BC Ministry of Attorney General on July 7, 2009 announcing that new Supreme Court Civil and Family Rules have been adopted by the Province and will be fully implemented on July 1, 2010. Two attached backgrounder papers describe the new court rules, as well as the new Vancouver Justice Access Centre which offers family law services.

* Residential Tenancy Act: A Guide for Landlords & Tenants in British Columbia is available from the Guides page of the BC Residential Tenancy Branch. Available in English, Chinese Traditional, and Punjabi. (60 pp PDF) Updated version: March 2009

* The Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre has a newly updated website with:
- printed materials in 16 languages, and multilingual videos coming soon
- new frequently asked questions
- new Fact Sheets such as Finding Out Who Your Landlord Is [4 pp PDF] 2009, Dealing With a Problem Roommate [3 pp PDF] 2009 and Guide for Tenants in Non Profit Housing [8pp PDF] 2009
- current news such as New 10-Day Eviction Notice! February 09, 2009

* New on Canadian Legal FAQs: Temporary Foreign Workers is a series of fact sheets and question/answer lists that include some services in Alberta, but is written mostly for a national audience. June/July 2009

* Povnet's Online Resources lists Legal Help for Rural British Columbians [50 pp PDF ] July 2008. Prepared by lawyer Cliff Thorstenson through a grant from the Law Foundation, this guide covers common legal topics including family law, criminal law, welfare, and debt. Written for non-legally trained helping professionals, the guide includes legal services and self-help resources.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Media reports: LawMatters on CBC Radio and other stories about legal information

* On April 22nd, the day of the LawMatters public launch, Courthouse Libraries BC Executive Director Johanne Blenkin was interviewed by Mark Forsythe on the Almanac program of CBC radio. Mark commented on the picture of the Radium Hot Springs legal collection on the LawMatters blog: "There it is, all on one shelf and easy to access." Johanne mentioned that many people in small towns may prefer to find legal information themselves and not have to ask for help, since confidentiality could be an issue. Johanne also stressed that the LawMatters resources in public libraries are intended to help people solve legal problems before they become serious, as well as assist people who must make a formal legal claim. She emphasized that people still need lawyers for legal advice, but having good legal information is a powerful tool when dealing with the legal system.

* Playing Jeopardy in Prince George reports on a workshop presented at a library conference June 8. Presenters were Drew Jackson of the new Clicklaw website, and Janet Freeman of the LawMatters project. We devised legal questions with answers from both Clicklaw and LawMatters resources, and even managed to stump the audience occasionally! See the blog posting for pictures of the game show format.
Another blog post titled Early word of mouth about Clicklaw includes a piece on Vancouver Public Library's Guy Cribdon, who was also interviewed on CBC radio. Guy did a great job explaining how the Clicklaw site will help the public looking for legal information.

* [Alberta's] Legal Resource Centre a boon to all; Non-profit groups find information invaluable
Edmonton Journal, June 17, 2009

* Job hunters turn to the library News from globeandmail.com, June 8, 2009. [LawMatters recommended list of Law Books for Libraries includes 15 titles on employment law]

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New Legal Information Online Update

* JP Boyd's Family Law Resource Blog 17 May 2009: Why you DON'T want a cohabitation agreement

* New on the Family Law in BC website of Legal Services Society, June 2009:
- One new frequently asked question: How much are the court fees for a divorce?
- One revised self-help guide: How to fill out a Supreme Court Financial Statement (Form 89)

* The Homeless Hub is a national site where community services providers, researchers, government representatives, and the general public can access and share research, stories, and best practices. Launched in 2007.

* Clicklaw and Beyond: Public Legal Education and Information Materials in BC This report examines public legal education and information resources available in BC in order to identify and analyze gaps and overlaps. Courthouse Libraries BC [70 pp PDF] 2009

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

First LawMatters Community Forum on Legal Information Hosted by Chilliwack Public Library

LawMatters project staff met with representatives from community groups at Chilliwack Public Library May 27 for the pilot event of the next phase of the LawMatters at your local public library project. The purpose of the forums is to bring together public libraries and community groups that provide legal information. We discovered that many of the forum participants had not met each other before, and were very appreciative of the opportunity to learn about each other's programs, and discuss gaps in services. Participants commented on public library legal resources they had never seen, as well as services they did not know existed. The forum included participants from transition houses, police and specialized victim services, Community Response Networks [for vulnerable seniors], Family Justice Services, Native Courtworkers, immigrant services, adult literacy, public library, and legal aid services.

We plan to hold legal information forums around the province; if you would like a forum in your community, please contact jfreeman@courthouselibrary.ca .

Friday, May 29, 2009

New Legal Information Online Update

* What's new on Legal Services Society's Family Law in BC website lists additions for April and May 2009, including new factsheets and FAQ's such as:

  • Frequently asked questions about marriages, divorces, and annulments inside and outside Canada
  • Do you need any legal documents to be able to leave Canada with your child?
  • What to do if the other party does not respond to your application to get a court Order
  • Do I need any legal documents to be able to travel outside Canada with my child?
  • How can I turn my separation agreement into a court order?
  • When can I stop paying child support?
  • I was married in another country. Is that marriage valid here?

* Your Guide to the Refugee Claim Process available in English and Spanish, Legal Services Society [58 pp PDF] 2009

* BC Association of Community Response Networks - Stopping Adult Neglect and Abuse Together. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is June 15th.

* News & Views on Civil Justice Reform, Issue 12, Spring 2009 [26 pp PDF] from the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice Reform contains a series of articles about the evolution of legal services to the public, including this quote:
"There are too many ambulances at the bottom of cliffs, and not enough railings at the top." from the book The End of Lawyers? Rethinking the Nature of Legal Services, by Richard Susskind [Oxford University Press, 2008].
Other articles in the News & Views issue include the role of public legal education and information, legal advice lines, and unbundling legal services.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

New Legal Information Online Update

* Aboriginal Parenting After Separation Toolkit for Community Workers Law Courts Education Society, 2009
accompanies Aboriginal Parenting After Separation Toolkit for Parents Law Courts Education Society, 2008

* An updated version of Being an Executor is available from People's Law School publications page. Updated April 2009 [12pp PDF]

* Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: A Legal Guide is available from the What's New page of Parent Support Services [200pp PDF] March 2009

* Legal Services Society now has two of their videos available in DVD format:
- Family Matters in Supreme Court: Judicial Case Conferences and Chambers Hearings [19 min.] 2004
- Making Your Case: The Family Court Process [21 min.], 2000

* Your Guide to the Refugee Claim Process Legal Services Society [51pp PDF] 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

LawMatters Virtual Launch

The LawMatters online public launch event was held on April 22nd, and combined a live web broadcast with an instant chat session. It proved to be a lively event as well as a challenge in using new technology. Above is a snapshot of the session and below are the video clips of remarks by representatives from the Law Foundation of BC and Courthouse Libraries BC:

Thank you to everyone who participated in the chat session, and special thanks go to Courthouse Libraries BC staff for their technical assistance.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

LawMatters Public Launch Events and New on LawMatters Site

* The LawMatters project will have its official public launch April 22 from 2:00 to 3:00 pm. The event will be held online as we explore new technology of web hosting and broadcasting. Let us know your thoughts by instant chat!

* LawMatters will host display tables at both the Victoria and Vancouver Law Days, along with another Courthouse Libraries special project, Clicklaw - our new legal information site going live April 20th.

* Two new reading lists are now available on the LawMatters site: Legal Information Reading List (the recommended list arranged by subject), and Multilingual Legal Information Titles (titles available in 11 languages).

* An 8" x 11" LawMatters poster is also available for download, with the tag line "Questions About the Law? Visit your local public library for information."

Monday, April 6, 2009

Announcements: CanLII and LawLine

*British Columbia Legislation is Now Available on CanLII
CanLII, the Canadian database of legislation now includes BC statutes and regulations and offers all the features of CanLII's new legislation publishing environment:
- full-text and field search
- statute noteup
- section noteup
- links between statutes and regulations
- links between cases and statutes
- RSS feeds for legislative changes
April 3, 2009.

*Changes to LawLine Advice Services
LawLINE advice services have been funded for another year and will continue until at least March 31, 2010. However, as a result of reductions to LawLINE staff, the scope of coverage for LawLINE has been redefined to tailor the service primarily to issues arising from the current economy.
Effective April 6, 2009, LawLINE advice services will be available for fewer areas of law. For a list of the categories that continue to be covered and examples of each category, see the LawLINE page of the LSS website. If you still have any of our old LawLINE promotional materials (poster, bookmark, wallet card, notepad), please discard them. If you have information about LawLINE in any of your publications or on your websites, please ensure that these are updated to reflect the changes to this service.
If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please e-mail LSS-Services. April 3, 2009.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Legal Information Events

* On March 31, 2009, the Guildford Branch of Surrey Public Library will host a free public lecture about the rule of law, independence of lawyers and the public interest with guest speaker Gordon Turriff, QC, President of the Law Society.

* On April 28 the Central Library of Vancouver Public Library will offer two sessions of CLICKLAW : British Columbians' Newest Legal Website as part of their TechnoTuesdays sessions. (Search under Computer and Internet Training, Central Library).

* April Law Day events are now scheduled for Cowichan Valley, Fort St John, Kamloops, Kelowna, Maple Ridge, Nanaimo, New Westminster, Prince George, Terrace, Tri-Cities, Vancouver and Victoria.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

New Legal Information Online and New Book

* MOSAIC's What's New - Publications page includes updated titles from their Public Legal Education Project for Newcomers:
- A Guide for Humanitarian and Compassionate Applications (available in Arabic, Chinese Simplified, Filipino, French, Persian, Russian, and Spanish) [10pp PDF] 2008
- Family Law [105pp PDF] 2008
- Immigration and Refugee Law [88pp PDF] 2008

* BC Ministry of Labour and Citizens' Services Complaint Resolution and the BC Employment Standards Act fact sheet covers the following topics: understanding rights and responsibilities, using the self-help kit, filing a complaint, dispute resolution, investigation, education, mediation, adjudication hearings, determinations and appeals. Also available in Chinese, Filipino, French, Punjabi and Spanish. [2pp PDF] December, 2008

* Family Relations Act Consultation Report Ministry of Attorney General Justice Services Branch, Civil and Family Law Policy Office released Family Relations Act Review:Report of Public Consultations [64 pp. PDF] February 2009

* Department of Justice, Family Violence Initiative new information:
- About Family Violence in Canada provides a summary of research
- The Criminal Law and Managing Children's Behaviour [fact sheet]
- The Family Violence Initiative Youth Site provides resources for either 10 - 12 years old, or 13 years old plus

* Canada’s 40th Parliament in Crisis: What Happened, What’s Next? [podcast] On January 22, 2009 over 100 people gathered at the University of Alberta to attend a panel discussion that addressed the recent political and constitutional turmoil in the House of Commons. Presented by the Centre for Constitutional Studies, the Legal Resource Centre of Alberta, the Department of Political Science, and the Department of History & Classics, the discussion was recorded as a podcast.

* Tug of War: A Judge's Verdict on Separation, Custody Battles, and the Bitter Realities of Family Court by Harvey Brownstone, ECW Press, 2009
Written by a sitting Ontario family court judge in layman’s language, this book demystifies complex family law concepts and procedures, clearly explains how family court works, and gives parents essential alternatives to resolve their own custody battles and keep their kids out of the often damaging court system. (publisher's blurb)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New Legal Information Online Update

* Updated editions of free titles of public legal information

BC Civil Liberties:
- The Arrest Handbook: A Guide to Your Rights Revised 2008
- The Citizenship Handbook: A Guide to Democratic Rights and Responsibilities Revised 2008

Legal Services Society:
- Living Together or Living Apart: Common-Law Relationships, Marriage, Separation, and Divorce 2nd edition, 2008
- Your Welfare Rights: A User’s Guide to BC Employment and Assistance - 2008 update insert to 19th revised edition, 2008

People's Law School:
- Child's Right to Love: Information for Grand parents, Relatives, and Others Close to the Child 3rd edition, 2008
- Learning About the Law 10th edition, 2008
- Working in BC: Your Legal Rights & Responsibilities 5th edition, 2009

* Other reading about legal information and the legal profession

- Pathways to Justice: The Role of Non-Legal Services Law and Justice Foundation of New South Wales [Justice Issues Paper 1] June 2007, is part of a series of research papers on Access to Justice and Legal Needs.

- The New Lawyer: How Settlement is Transforming the Practice of Law , by Julie Macfarlane, UBC Press, 2008. Macfarlane contrasts the traditional "zealous advocate" role of the lawyer with an alternative dispute resolution function, explaining that new lawyers may choose either role, or a mix of the two. She outlines how this relates to issues such as the lawyer-client relationship, the role of the law, and legal negotiation norms. [as noted in Courthouse Libraries BC What's New feature Feb. 18, 2009]

- Why Attacks on Judges Deserve More Attention Letter written by Miriam Maisonville, President of the Canadian Bar Association BC Branch, in response to a CTV news story about Judge Ellen Gordon. February 23, 2009.

* New Service:
Court Services Online now provides Electronic Filing of Civil Court Documents for registered users to submit electronic court documents on civil cases to BC courts, for a $7 fee. Court Services Online also offers: daily court lists; e-search of civil cases court records; view/print documents; purchase of documents online; and filing assistant. Tutorials are available on the site to explain how the services work.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

LawMatters Project News

* 160 BC public libraries were sent surveys in January regarding legal reference questions. We had a high rate of return on the survey, and we are eagerly anticipating the report of the survey results soon. The report will be used as a benchmark to compare to another survey in 2010, so we can compare levels of legal reference use by the public. In appreciation, we drew the names of 7 participating libraries to receive $100 Amazon.ca gift certificates, and the lucky winners were: Blue River [Thompson Nicola Regional District], Campbell River [Vancouver Island Regional Library], Hastings Branch [Vancouver Public Library], Kerrisdale Branch [Vancouver Public Library], Misson [Fraser Valley Regional Library], Parkgate Branch [North Vancouver District Public Library] and Oyama [Okanagan Regional Library] .

* The updated Law Books for Libraries: Recommended Titles for Public Libraries 2009 list is now available at the LawMatters site, and libraries should receive their 2009 grant letters this week. An updated order form for Free Titles for Libraries is also available on the site.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Events and Announcements

* The Law Courts Education Society is hosting Justice in Our Times - a lecture series focused on highlighting important, current justice issues. The opening event is Aboriginal Justice in Our Times on March 3rd, 2009, 2:30pm to 4:30pm. A panel of notable speakers will use moderated discussion and audience questions to exchange thought-provoking ideas and opinions on legal issues facing the Aboriginal community. A live broadcast will be available on the internet at Justice in Our Times on March 3rd.

* Law Week 2009 takes place from April 16-26 this year with events planned across the province, including the official launch of the LawMatters at your local public library project. The theme of Law Week 2009 is Access to Justice: Public Confidence in the Justice System. From Fort St. John's to Maple Ridge, communities across the province are hosting “Law Days” and providing British Columbians with the opportunity to learn about the law, the legal profession and some of the legal institutions that form the cornerstones of our Canadian democracy.

* Online seminars on copyright law are available from Copyrightlaws.com at a discounted rate for BC Library Association members. To benefit from this discount, email: contact@copyrightlaws.com for the BCLA registration form. The following courses are being offered: Feb 23 - March 20: Developing a Copyright Policy; April 20 - May 2: (1) Copyright Education: Demystifying Copyright in your Enterprise (2) Digital Content Management and (3) Copyright Law for Canadian Librarians. The syllabi for these courses are at copyrightlaws.com .

* Telephone service at Legal Services Society – Update February 20, 2009
LSS has announced improvements in the telephone service for callers seeking legal information, advice or needing to apply for legal representation (Legal Aid applications and LawLINE). Callers now listen to fewer recorded messages and waiting times for callers have improved significantly since October. The average wait time for callers is now 6 minutes 53 seconds, but callers during peak periods may wait as long as 35 minutes. Callers should phone before 11 or after 2 if they can and use a regular phone if possible to avoid the expense of a long cell phone call.
The number for the telephone services remains the same: Vancouver and area: (604) 408-2172 Toll Free: 1-866-577-2525.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

New Legal Information Online Update

* The Role of the Coroner in BC is available in English, Chinese, French and Punjabi from the BC Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General's publications page (scroll down to Coroner's Role) [2pp pdf] March 2008

* Crystal Meth: Quick Facts is available from the BC Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General's Crystal Meth Secretariat [2pp pdf] February 2007

* The Role and Impact of Librarians in the History and Development of Public Legal Education (PLE) in Canada by Kirsten Wurmann, is a literature review and annotated bibliography published by the Legal Resource Centre of Alberta. The paper may be downloaded from their research page (scroll down to #2 on the list) [37pp pdf] May 2008

* BC lawyer blogs:

Rights & Remedies - "Articles, resources and support for enforcing your legal rights and remedies when you can't afford a lawyer" by Shannon Salter.
Current article: Can you be arrested and charged for possession of marijuana?
Also see: Pardon Me? Why you don't need a lawyer to discharge your criminal record

JP Boyd's BC Family Law Resource Blog
Current article: New Random Answers to Random Search Terms (questions on adultery)

Legal Services Society's LawLine Blog
Current article: Common-Law Relationships and Separation
Also see Shoplifting And Scary Notices and LawLine FAQ's

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

New Legal Information Online Update

* Artists' Legal Outreach Program provides artists, arts administrators and arts organizations in all disciplines with access to resources and experienced lawyers to address arts-related legal issues

* VictimsInfo.ca: An Online Resource for Victims & Witnesses of Crime in BC Includes information on reporting a crime, police investigation, preparing for trial and what happens after sentencing.

* New on the Family Law in BC (Legal Services Society) website: multilingual resources are now listed.

* Update to Legal Services Society's When I'm 64: A Guide to Benefits and Services for People Aged 60 and Over. Read a description in the legal aid newsletter Elan or read the update and 2006 title at the publications page [8pp update plus 105pp] November 2008

* Community Crime Prevention Guide contains information about crime prevention and reduction strategies, and advice on developing community crime prevention action plans [36 pp PDF] 2008

Friday, January 30, 2009

Training Opportunities in Legal Information

The following courses in legal information are available for all staff who work in public or Aboriginal libraries in BC, through the BC Public Library Services Branch :

*2 hour webinar on QP LegalEze Feb. 23, Mar. 11
*1.5 hour webinar on Family Law in BC Feb. 24th, Mar. 25th

You can register here for these webinars.

We expect to offer the 8 week online course Introduction to Legal Information Sources as part of the Community Librarian Training Program in October 2009.

A series of in-house LawMatters workshops are just now being planned in various locations. Watch for a workshop titled Legal Jeopardy for Librarians: Using Clicklaw and LawMatters to Answer Legal Reference Questions at the BCLA conference in April, and possibly the Beyond Hope conference in Prince George in June. Come test your knowledge of legal information sources in a game show format!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Some Q & A's on the new BC Laws website

We received some questions from a public librarian about the new BC Laws website, and decided to share the answers from a Courthouse Libraries BC reference librarian.

Q: BC Laws vs QP LegalEze . They both seem to be up-to-date. Is there any advantage in staff using QP LegalEze over BC Laws?

A: QP LegalEze has the better search engine (this is the big advantage). BC Laws only has a current consolidation of the statutes & regulations, so does not provide older consolidations, bills, hansard and tables of legislative changes. For a complete description of the differences, see #16 of BC Laws FAQ’s .

Q. Both QP LegalEze and BC Laws have the "unofficial" version of statutes. Does this still mean printouts would be inadmissable in court?

A. It depends. Currently, the Evidence Act states that copies must be made from the bound volumes, however a judge may accept a copy of a consolidated act from an electronic source in some circumstances. Since we don’t give legal opinions we can’t say for sure what is and what is not admissible in court. You can refer people to the Supreme Court Self-Help Centre website for information regarding preparing for court. The electronic version may become official eventually, but we cannot say when.

Q. What is the easiest way of tracing back legislation? We have some early annual volumes, then the looseleaf versions of 1960 and 1970 Revised Statutes of BC.

A. It depends on how far back you want to go; QP LegalEze has some old consolidations of acts [see the Table of Contents page]. The easiest thing to do is to simply look for a consolidation before the date you are interested in, and then check the next consolidation to see if there have been any changes. If the consolidation before the date and the consolidation after the date read the same then you know it hasn’t changed and you know how it read on the date you care about. I should warn you that when you are looking at the consolidations from 1991-1996, the acts from this time period may have a different title, and the section numbers may be different from a current act. For example: The current Local Government Act was known as the Municipal Act pre 1996.

If you have compared two consolidations and notice a change, you can try looking for the amendment if it was 1996 or later. For amendments before 1996 you need to refer to the bound annual volumes. As usual, you can call Courthouse Libraries BC for help (1-800-665-2570, or 604-660-2841 Lower Mainland).

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Legal Information Online Update

* Service and Staff Changes at Legal Services Society press release January 13, 2009.

* Courts of BC explains the structure of the three Courts of British Columbia, and the types of cases that are heard.

* AdminLawBC.ca provides an introduction to administrative law, a directory of tribunals, a glossary, and links to educational speakers.

* Criminal Justice Reform displays links to Criminal Justice Reform updates and projects in BC.

* Information on Custody and Access for Women with Children [28 pp PDF] is now available in six more languages: Chinese, Farsi, Korean, Punjabi, Spanish and Vietnamese from YWCA Vancouver's page Information on Women Leaving Abuse . 2008.

* Protecting Retirement Savings from Seizure by Miriam Maisonville, President of the Canadian Bar Association, B.C. Branch. November 25, 2008.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

LawMatters Evaluation Reports

"... the combination of “intimidating” (legal) materials and an unfamiliar form of access (i.e. computers and web-based materials), plus a difficult emotional situation (e.g. custody/divorce/access issues) made it very difficult for some patrons to effectively access web-based materials. "

The above quote is from a LawMatters report of a focus group of public librarians held November 21, 2008. The group provided valuable feedback and ideas for future LawMatters programs. We have also published summaries of training participant assessment forms on the LawMatters site [scroll down to Evaluation Reports], which include these comments about LawMatters workshops:

"Nice review of web resources, valuable handouts. Indicated where to start and to keep a broad framework in mind.

Search strategies – (It is) always good to get a reminder of how to approach reference questions. I don’t do this type of reference question often and the subject can seem overwhelming. Hints about where to start and how to break it down are useful."

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Legal Information Online Update

* The new BC Laws site is now available. It provides free public access to the current laws of BC, as well as a glossary and FAQ's. However, it does not provide a table of legislative changes, and the search function is minimal, compared to the features of QP LegalEze [available from every public and courthouse library in BC]. BC Laws does provide a listing of unofficial current consolidation of BC Statutes and Regulations, and is updated as new and amended laws come into force.

* New editions and resources at People's Law School :
- Learning About the Law: British Columbia’s Laws and Legal System 10th ed.[54pp PDF] December 2008
- Abuse Of People With Disabilities 2nd ed. [8pp PDF] December 2008
- Abuse Of People With Disabilities For Service Providers 2nd ed.[8pp PDF]December 2008
- Animal Protection Law In BC in Chinese [8pp PDF] September 2008
- Animal Protection Law In BC in Punjabi [8pp PDF] September 2008
- Animal Protection Law In BC in Spanish [8pp PDF] September 2008

* Clearing the Path to Justice is a public forum occuring January 28 2009 featuring the Honourable Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. Sponsored by the Law Society of BC, the forum is put on in partnership with the Western Canada Society to Access Justice, the Legal Services Society, SUCCESS and the CBC. Location is the Wosk Centre in Vancouver, and email registration is available through the forum web page above.