Virtual Legal Clinic
Rise provides free unbundled legal services for self-identifying women and gender-diverse folks who are ineligible for Legal Aid due to their income and cannot afford to pay a lawyer privately.
The Virtual Legal Clinic (VLC) works in partnership with community organizations across BC to connect women who need legal help in the province with a volunteer lawyer. The VLC works with a roster of volunteer lawyers in the province.
Volunteer lawyers DO NOT PROVIDE REPRESENTATION. Summary advice appointments are for legal advice and strategy using video conferencing through Zoom. As a VLC Volunteer Lawyer, you will be asked sign a Volunteer Lawyer Agreement.
As a volunteer lawyer, you will be expected to:
• Complete Rise’s training for lawyers on “Serving Clients Virtually in BC & Screening for Family Violence,” which includes training about working with clients who have experienced intimate partner abuse, and potential safety risks for using videoconferencing to provide legal advice.
• Commit to providing a minimum of 12 volunteer hours to the Virtual Legal Clinic per year, with the understanding that this number may change due to the number of requests Rise receives and my availability.
• Agree to provide a minimum of 3 pro bono hours to each client per client file which allows women to return to the same lawyer as she moves through the legal system.
To sign up, contact us at [email protected]
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Am I expected to represent the client in court?
No. This free service is for summary legal advice and unbundled legal services only.
What videoconferencing system does the VLC use?
The VLC program uses the popular and easy-to-use online videoconferencing service Zoom.
As a volunteer lawyer with the VLC, you will provide legal advice to clients using Zoom. These meetings will be hosted through the Community Partner’s computer, whenever possible, to help ensure that women are using safer technology which there ex-spouse has not had access to.
What is the intake process?
To access the VLC, the Community Partner and their client complete an intake form and send it to Rise’s case manager, who will then have a quick phone call with the Community Partner and client to make sure the VLC is the best resource for the client’s needs. In cases where there is no community partner, Rise ‘s case manager will refer clients to the nearest community partner or Rise’s virtual legal advocate will support the client.
Rise will also ensure that the client has the supports they might need in their community to implement the advice our volunteer lawyer may give them, plus collect any relevant documents and answer questions.
After the intake conversation, we can set up an appointment for the lawyer, the client, and their Community Partner/advocate to meet through Zoom or telephone.
What happens during a Summary Advice meeting between lawyers, community partners and clients?
During a VLC meeting, the client will explain their matter to the volunteer lawyer and they will receive summary advice and possibly unbundled legal services.
After the meeting, the volunteer lawyer will complete a summary advice memo which Rise will keep on file and forward to the client.
Is this a safe way to get legal advice virtually?
For most women this will be safe, but any internet activity carries some level of risk. To mitigate these risks, any written information transmitted through email or Zoom is printed immediately and never downloaded or saved to a Community Partner’s computer.
Who can use this service?
People can access this service if:
• they self-identify as a woman, non-binary or gender diverse person;
• they have a legal issue for which they wish to receive summary legal advice;
• they do not already have a lawyer;
• they understand and agree to the risk associated with the transmission of information online through platforms like Zoom.