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.