Settlement Workers Guide to Finding Legal Information
This section is about finding legal information that is reliable, up to date and understandable. Knowing where to find such information is an important first step.
Find legal information online
A good starting point is Clicklaw, a website that helps you find legal information on everyday legal topics. The information found through Clicklaw is produced by trusted organizations such as the Canadian Bar Association British Columbia Branch, Legal Services Society and TRAC Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre and is:
- specifically written for people in BC,
- written in plain language, and
- up to date.
Examples of topics include debt, family law, health, housing, rights & citizenship, abuse & family violence and the court system.
You can search for information by topic and by language. Searching by language can be helpful for clients who read languages other than English but it is important to know that the amount of legal information available in other languages is limited. The legal information your client needs may be available only in English.
If you use a search engine like Google to find legal information, it is very important that you ask the following questions:
- What is the jurisdiction? Make sure the information is for people in BC. For example, the law in Alberta, Ontario or the US may not be the same as in BC.
- Is the website easy to read and clear? Plain language information that is well organized makes it easier for people to understand legal concepts.
- Who created the information? Look for who produced the information and check their credentials.
- Is the information up to date? Good online information will show when it was written or last updated. Laws can change at any time, so finding current information is important.
- Is the site asking you to pay a fee? Some websites provide legal information as a way to attract customers. The information may be limited.
When you use Clicklaw or see a result from Clicklaw in your Google search, you know editors and contributors have done this work for you. You can trust the legal information you find through Clicklaw.
Find legal information booklets and other print information
Most legal information booklets are available electronically on Clicklaw. Publications can be printed from the online version, or they can be ordered. For information on how to order print copies of booklets, brochures or pamphlets, check the inside or back cover. Or, check the website of the organization that produces the information.
Select legal information
You can help your client select the information that is best suited for them. Print information in other languages, if available, may be helpful as a starting point. Clients need to know the amount of legal information available in other languages is limited. If your client has access to a computer, perhaps an online video would be best, or reading information online.
Helping clients determine what level of detail is a good idea at this point. Would a general overview be the most help or do they need more information such as a self-help guide or a step-by-step list of instructions?
You can explain the choices available and show them where they can get more detailed information if they need it.
|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.|