Q: Where can I get help filling out legal forms and documents?
A: Legal forms and documents can be overwhelming or a bit confusing to interpret or fill out at the best of times. There are free resources out there that can help. One resource I want to highlight is called Amici Curiae (AC). Their name literally translated means “Friends of the Court”. They are a charity whose volunteers help you understand legal procedures and complete paperwork for free. They publish legal information on their website and on their own YouTube channel. They also provide public lectures.
There are many, many areas of law AC can help with on matters before the courts or various tribunals. To name just a (very) few: aboriginal law, gender change matters, human rights matters, family law matters, small claims matters, handling a notice of civil claim and so much more. The full list of topics is found on their website.
Note: AC does NOT give legal advice. They also do NOT assist in matters relating to criminal law, wills or probate.
This service is offered virtually every week, and does not work for urgent and last-minute requests, as the timeline requires a few steps to get you set up with technology and then connected to the legal professionals who will be helping you during the videoconference(s) to help you with your paperwork. (If you need support navigating the virtual aspect of this for example, if you don’t have a device, the Resource Centre may be able to help.)
They also have in-person services in Richmond, Surrey and Vancouver.
The timeline from requesting an appointment to getting one is roughly two weeks as long as you are able to provide any necessary information that AC requires.
AC operates with the belief that every person living in B.C. and on the unceded First Nations’ territories in this region are entitled to free legal services. They will never ask about a person’s income. They appreciate that understanding and navigating the rules is very challenging. AC has a team of specially trained volunteers that provide trauma-informed care for their Indigenous clients and victims of gendered violence. The AC team helping you may be one or a mix of paralegals, lawyers, students of law, legal administrative assistants or librarians, depending on the nature of your request.
After your initial appointment, if you wish, you can use this service again and again during your legal journey.
Fact worth noting if you are a Legal Aid BC client: For anyone who has a contract with a free Legal Aid lawyer through Legal Aid BC, using AC at the same time can be a way to maximize your limited time with your Legal Aid BC Lawyer. This is because AC can do some of the paperwork the lawyer would have otherwise had to do, which would conserve your Legal Aid BC hours for focussing on other matters related to your case.
Here on the Coast, you can also have lawyers look at/hear about your legal paperwork via LegalAid BC’s services: For family law: Legal Aid BC’s Family Law Line (604-408-2172) and during in-person Family Duty Counsel services, which refers to the free family lawyers on hand most first and third Thursdays at the Sechelt Provincial Courthouse. Criminal law: Legal Aid BC’s Criminal Duty Counsel, the free criminal lawyers on hand at the Sechelt Courthouse on most Wednesdays.***For both family and criminal duty counsel (in-person lawyer) services, priority is for those with court that day, but the service is there for everyone who needs it on a first come first served basis. Sechelt Courthouse contact info: 5480 Shorncliffe Avenue, Sechelt, 604-740-8929, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Here at the Resource Centre, via our legal information program, you can book an appointment with us for help with basic navigation around legal forms. Advance notice is best to be sure we can help you.
Angie Theilmann is an information and referral specialist at the Sunshine Coast Resource Centre, your community information hub. The Resource Centre is open Monday to Thursday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Appointments are recommended to be sure we are available to help you. Note: on some days, we can book clients after 2 p.m. Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-885-4088