The Civil Claims Duty Counsel (CCDC) Project and Queen’s Bench Court Assistance (QB Amicus) Program are back, this time, online. In-person services provided through these programs at the Calgary and Edmonton Courthouses were suspended in March 2020 due to concerns around the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Given ongoing public health restrictions and limited access to courthouses, PBLA has leveraged the power of technology and is excited to relaunch the court programs virtually. The virtual relaunch will be rolled out in two pilot phases between December 2020 and January 2021. Applications for assistance can be made on PBLA’s website or by calling 403-541-4804 starting December 16, 2020. A handful of shifts will be offered between December 21 and 23, 2020 as part of the first pilot. Additional shifts will be offered starting January 11, 2021 as part of the second pilot. Applications for assistance will continue to be accepted in between both pilots.
While the programs will be delivered using phone and videoconferencing platforms, much of the program scope and process will remain the same. Self-represented litigants with civil matters in Provincial Court and the Court of Queen’s Bench who apply for assistance and meet program criteria will be able to receive up to 30 minutes of free legal advice from a volunteer lawyer. Following the submission of an application for assistance, clients with eligible requests will be contacted with additional information about their virtual appointment, including how to fill out waivers, review our terms of service, share case documents with and connect to a volunteer lawyer.
“As we face the prolonged effects of the pandemic, the move towards a virtual format for program delivery provides an opportunity for lawyers and other members of the legal profession to contribute to the legal response to COVID-19,” says Nonye Opara, Executive Director of Pro Bono Law Alberta. “The court-based programs have helped thousands of self-represented litigants with their civil matters since 2011. As we continue to see increased need for pro bono legal services, these programs will be critical to supporting many Albertans who are dealing with new and existing legal issues in a justice system that is changing to adapt to new realities.”
Members of the public can view shift availability for the court programs through a calendar feature on the home page of PBLA’s website. The calendar will be populated as shifts become available but cannot be used to book appointments. For more information about the CCDC Project, click here or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information about the Queen’s Bench Amicus Program can be viewed here or by sending an email to email@example.com.
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