Settlement Workers Guide to Making Effective Referrals

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This section discusses how settlement workers can make useful referrals for more legal information or for legal advice and how to help your client prepare for the next step.

You've helped your client identify a legal issue and have shown them where to find some legal information. Many clients will need more legal information or help understanding the legal information than you, as a settlement worker, can provide.

It is not the role of a settlement worker to provide ongoing assistance to clients with legal issues. However, you can help by showing clients:

  • where they can go for more legal help, and
  • what they can do to prepare.

The Clicklaw HelpMap is a good tool to use with clients so they can then use the website themselves. You can show them how to find agencies in their community as well as details such as:

  • contact information for the agency,
  • whether the agency provides help over the phone, drop in or by appointment,
  • hours,
  • whether there is a fee,
  • if there a low income eligibility requirement for the service, and
  • if an interpreter will be provided

You’ve already told your client that you can only provide basic legal information. This will help them understand the reason why you are showing them where they can go for more legal help.

Help a client prepare for the next step

Clients will benefit from being well prepared before going to another agency, meeting with a community legal advocate or meeting with a lawyer. Free and low-cost legal advice and representation services have limited time available for each client. When the client comes prepared, the person they see has more time to provide legal advice.

Clients who pay for their lawyer themselves will get the most value for their money if they are prepared. Preparation can include learning more about their legal issue, organizing information about their situation and understanding more about the services they will receive. Encourage your client to learn more about their legal issue. You have shown them where to find legal information and have perhaps provided some print information. Explain the benefits of using this information to better understand their legal issue.

Clients can also prepare by following a few basic steps to organize information about their situation ahead of time. Encourage clients to:

  • write down what happened, in the order it happened, with dates,
  • write out their questions,
  • bring all documents to the meeting, including their contact information, and
  • check before the meeting if an interpreter is provided, if necessary, and make arrangements to have someone there to help them if interpreters are not provided.
Making Effective Referrals
This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Drew Jackson, March 2014.



Creativecommonssmall.png 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.


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