Do I Need a Lawyer?
No. You don’t need a lawyer to go to court or to attend a tribunal hearing. You can represent yourself in civil, family and criminal cases. This website and others in BC provide a range of information to help you understand your legal rights and be able to address your legal issues. Only lawyers can provide legal advice and there are ways that you may be able to get free or low-cost advice from a lawyer.
Access Legal Information
To start, especially for non-criminal matters, you should review the available legal information. British Columbians are fortunate to be able to access more legal information on more issues than virtually anywhere else in North America.
Getting legal information will help you understand your legal rights and options. It will help you find the law that applies to your situation and help you address your legal issue.
Learning about the law is important because, in addition to knowing your legal rights, you also need to knowthe rules and procedures of court. Judges make decisions based on the facts of the case and the law that applies to those facts. So, you need to be able to build a case based on the facts as well as the law.
This website provides a range of helpful information, based on the type of legal problem you have. To learn more, see the Legal Help Guides for Crime, Family and Lawsuits. If you have an issue with a government agency or professional organization, see AdminLawBC.ca. A great, go-to resource for all legal issues is Clicklaw.bc.ca.
Get Legal Advice
If you have a legal problem, it is a good idea to talk to a lawyer to get legal advice. Even if you are going to handle your own case, a lawyer can help you at every step in the legal process. A lawyer can give you important information about many things, including:
A lawyer can also tell you about other ways to resolve your dispute without going to court.
Legal Advice Options
There are different ways to get help with your legal problem, including free legal information, legal advice, or legal representation in court. You may be surprised to learn that hiring a lawyer is not always expensive. Here are some options for how you can access legal services:
Legal problems that may be covered by legal aid include:
The Legal Services Society provides legal aid to low-income earners in British Columbia. For example, if there are 2 people in your home, your household income (after deductions) must be below $2100 per month to qualify for legal aid. To learn more, go to www.LSS.bc.ca/legal_aid.
“Pro bono” is a Latin word that is used to describe free professional services. Access Pro Bono operates a number of free legal clinics throughout the province. Search here to find a location near you to see if you qualify.
When you go to a pro bono legal clinic, you will have an opportunity to discuss your legal problem with a lawyer for 30 minutes. You can learn about your options for taking the next step in your case. You can return to the clinic for more advice another time, but it is not likely that you will meet with the same lawyer. When you meet with a lawyer at the clinic, you can find out your options for further pro bono legal services, including full legal representation.
Before going to get pro bono legal advice at a clinic, use the following worksheet to prepare for your meeting. Thirty minutes goes really fast. You don’t want to spend all of your time telling your story, only to find that there’s no time left to get legal advice. The worksheet will help you prepare and use your time will. (See Worksheet #1: Meeting with a Lawyer.)
As you can see, there are many opportunities to access free and low cost lawyers. Low incomes individuals may qualify for legal aid or be helped through Access Pro Bono or an advocate. Anyone in BC can use the Lawyer Referral Service – where for $25, you can meet with a lawyer to get legal advice.
To get legal advice, you will need to meet with a lawyer. To learn more about why it’s a good idea to get legal advice, see the next section: How Lawyers Help.
Last reviewed: March 2016
IMPORTANT: This page provides legal information, not legal advice. If you need legal advice consult a lawyer.
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