Family Duty Counsel

You have to qualify financially (see www.legalaid.bc.ca/DoIQualifyAdvice). If your income exceeds our financial criteria, you can still receive up to 45 minutes of general help from duty counsel (depending on their availability), and/or a 45 minute appointment with a family advice lawyer (with a referral from a family justice counsellor).

There is one Lead Duty Counsel (full time duty counsel) in each location (Vancouver and New Westminster). There is also a second duty counsel in each location; there is a roster of approximately 10 lawyers for each location who share that duty counsel role (works out to roughly once every 2 weeks for each duty counsel lawyer on the roster).

Family Duty Counsel can do the following for self-represented litigants:

  • give only verbal advice about your legal rights, obligations, and court procedures;
  • review and help you prepare court documents;
  • help you negotiate and settle issues;
  • help you prepare or review consent orders or family agreements that can be filed in court;
  • attend court with you to ask for an adjournment, an unopposed or consent order, or an emergency restraining order, if appropriate;
  • inform you on what to do when you go to court; and
  • refer you to other resources

Family Duty Counsel Cannot:

  • follow up with written advice;
  • go to court for any contested trial or hearing with complicated issues;
  • help you with complex property disputes, or give you tax advice;
  • help you if you already have a lawyer;
  • prepare your court documents;
  • help you with any non-family-law legal problems;
  • serve or accept court documents for you; or
  • become your lawyer while acting as duty counsel.