With new funding from the provincial government, the Legal Services Society (LSS) is now able to help more people who have family law problems. LSS has reinstated family law coverage that it had to eliminate over a year ago when money for discretionary spending ran out.
The following policy changes may help one of your clients.
Family Exception Reviews
Under the Exception Review process, LSS will review the application of a financially eligible person whose legal problem does not meet our family coverage guidelines. The purpose of the review is to determine if there are circumstances that may warrant appointment of a lawyer for the person. The factors LSS will consider depend on the circumstances of the individual case, but are generally situations where appointment of counsel is needed.
Discretionary Financial Eligibility
Sometimes a legal aid applicant meets the coverage guidelines for family law representation but does not meet our financial eligibility guidelines. Discretionary financial coverage for family cases means LSS will take a more generous approach to determining if a client is eligible for legal aid. Note that it is for applicants who are only slightly over the financial eligibility guidelines and have a serious, complex case.
Extended Family Services
Under the Extended Family Services process, LSS can grant a lawyer more hours for a client whose primary legal issues require more time than was specified in their original legal aid representation contract.
If you are working with a client whose lawyer is nearing the end of the available hours in the representation contract, consider asking the lawyer to apply to LSS for Extended Services (it must be the lawyer, not the client, who applies).
If you have questions about whether these changes could help your client, please call 604-601-6000 and ask for Sarah Khan or Branka Matijasic.