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Settlement Workers Guide to Finding Legal Help

If your client has a legal issue, you can point them to legal information so they can learn more about the law and consider what to do next. If they are having trouble understanding the legal information or if they need legal advice, you can show them how to find legal help. This section describes the different kinds of legal help and how to access them.

There are three kinds of legal help.

  1. More legal information may be available from an organization or a community advocate that specializes or knows more about the topic. For example, if the legal issue is housing, you may refer the client to the Tenant Infoline operated by TRAC Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre. Another useful referral is Dial-A-Law. Dial-A-Law is an online library of print information and recordings prepared by lawyers. It offers general information on many legal topics in English, Chinese and Punjabi.
  2. Legal advice is available from lawyers or others who are qualified to give legal advice. For example, you may refer your client to a free legal clinic (Access ProBono) or to see a duty counsel lawyer at a courthouse (Legal Services Society).
  3. Legal representation is when a lawyer or another qualified legal professional represents the client in their dispute. For example, you may show your client information about how to find a lawyer using the Clicklaw link Legal help & lawyers – finding legal help. They would see services like the Lawyer Referral Service, which is provided by the Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch. They provide a half hour meeting with a lawyer for a fee of $25.

Settlement workers can NOT refer clients to a specific lawyer.

Find legal help in your community

You can use the HelpMap on Clicklaw to find legal information and legal help in communities around BC. HelpMap has information on free and low-cost legal help services. It lists all legal aid offices, pro bono clinics, community legal advocates, family justice centres, courthouse libraries and more.

It provides information about hours, service restrictions, as well as direct links to the organizations’ websites so you can find more detailed information. Use HelpMap to search for services by community, type of legal issue, type of service, and language.

For example, if you are looking for family law advice for your client in Surrey, enter "Surrey," click on "GO" and then select "Family Law" and "Legal advice, representation or advocacy." You can also narrow your search by the language that the service is offered in. Many of these services in other languages are provided over the telephone, where a third party interpreter is brought onto the call.

Some services have restrictions on who they can help. For example, Legal Aid and Access ProBono provide legal advice services to people with lower incomes. Some services are restricted to certain areas of law. For more tips on using Clicklaw and Clicklaw's HelpMap, visit

Tools for settlement workers

Options Community Services has developed one page "Quick Links to Public Legal Information and Resources" to help you navigate to resources on a variety of legal topics, including family law, wills and estates, housing, and legal services. For more information on Options Community Services, visit

Finding Legal Help
This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Drew Jackson, March 2014.

  Settlement Workers Guide to Helping Clients with Legal Information and Legal Referrals © Immigrant PLEI Consortium (IPC) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.