On October 4, 2018, Attorney General David Eby, QC, announced the appointment of Jamie Maclaren, QC, to conduct an external review of legal aid service delivery in BC. The review will examine the effectiveness and efficiencies of current and potentially new models of service delivery from the point of view of British Columbians who use legal aid services, with the goal of advancing the rule of law and access to justice.
About the process
Maclaren will consult with individuals and organizations about current service delivery models used by the Legal Services Society. He will also consider public feedback.
The reviewer will submit his report with recommendations to the Attorney General by December 31, 2018.
Statement from the Legal Services Society
The Legal Services Society (LSS) — BC's legal aid provider — welcomes any public discussion about legal aid. The Maclaren review provides an opportunity for justice system stakeholders to identify gaps in legal aid services and better ways to deliver those services to clients.
LSS has struggled for many years with a lack of funding, which has challenged the society's ability to offer the services low-income people in BC need to resolve their legal problems. More recently, however, we’ve begun to meet some of those challenges.
In his 2018/19 budget letter, Attorney General David Eby, QC, authorized an increase in legal aid funding that is helping LSS improve service delivery for people facing family, child protection, and criminal law issues, and it will improve access to justice for Indigenous people. He also authorized $1 million for tariff incentives.
The Legal Services Society delivers a broad spectrum of legal aid services including self-help publications and websites, telephone hotlines, advice by duty counsel in courthouses, Indigenous advocates and representation by lawyers in court.
In 2017/18 (April to March), LSS distributed more than 150,000 publications; Legal Information Outreach Workers helped 7,000 people; more than 1 million people used LSS’s websites; family and criminal law telephone hotlines took 20,000 calls; 108,000 people used duty counsel services in court; and lawyers represented 26,000 people in criminal, family, immigration and child protection cases.
Almost 30 per cent of LSS’s clients are Indigenous. The society is committed to working with Indigenous communities around the province to develop service delivery models that meet their unique cultural needs and that successfully address the over-representation of Indigenous people in Canada’s justice system.
About Jamie Maclaren, QC
Jamie Maclaren, QC, is the executive director of Access Pro Bono. He is also a practising employment lawyer and a former executive director of the UBC Law Students’ Legal Advice Program (LSLAP) and Pro Bono Law of BC. He volunteers as a supervising trial lawyer and director for LSLAP, conducts legal seminars for people overcoming homelessness and addiction, and regularly provides pro bono legal advice and representation. He speaks internationally on the subject of access to justice and is an elected Bencher of the Law Society of BC.