LAO family and refugee professionals make a real difference at Rexdale Community Legal Clinic
Monday, May 27, 2013
Toronto – People who need legal help in Rexdale can now access support from Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) family and refugee staff at the Rexdale Community Legal Clinic.
Four LAO family and refugee employees have joined the two LAO criminal lawyers who have been serving the community out of this clinic since May 2012, as part of a one-year pilot that commenced in November 2012.
They all agree that they can make a real difference by working one-on-one with clients in the communities where they live.
Family law services help clients make the most of court appearances
Every Monday, Toronto Family Law Service Centre family lawyers Victoria Boger-Mull and Ghina al-Sewaidi, and LAO legal aid worker Zahra Diryie, for instance, offer summary legal advice, general information on family law and guidance on how to fill in the forms needed for court to eight to ten clients.
This support has so far provided 87 clients who have family law matters with the information or document preparation services they need has made each court appearance more meaningful, and helped the cases of these clients move through the court system more efficiently.
“We help people before they go to court, in a quiet, safe location, so they can arrive at court with sufficient information and accurately completed forms,” says family lawyer Victoria Boger-Mull. “When they arrive in the courthouse, the judge can give them more effective service, and duty counsel can see and help more people.
“The alternative is for people to arrive at court unprepared. That’s frustrating for duty counsel, because they don’t have the time to work with people on their paperwork. It’s also frustrating for clients, who want to see their cases move forward.”
Immigration and refugee law services
LAO’s GTA office refugee/immigration lawyer Samuel Loeb and Legal Aid Worker Zahra Diryie each make the most out of the opportunity to support six to eight clients here every Tuesday.
Samuel, who’s seen 128 clients since he began going to this clinic on October 10, knows it’s important, he says, “to talk to people face-to-face and help put them on the right track.”
His clients gain summary legal advice for “all types of immigration issues,” he says. “I’ll point people in the right direction, discuss their citizenship and permanent residence concerns, explain what’s required on the different types of application forms. Many of the issues that come up would not be covered by a certificate.”
Criminal law services
In the meantime, LAO’s GTA office criminal lawyers Paul-Andre MacLeod and Immanuel Lanzaderas continue to arrive Tuesdays and Thursdays.
So far, they’ve provided diverse assistance to 116 people. They provide summary legal advice to clients and support for duty counsel staff at the courthouse where the accused is scheduled to appear. They also try and get better resolutions for low-income youth aged 25 and younger who are served by the clinic’s Rexdale Youth Initiative.
“Being at the clinic means that we are able to help the person, not just assist with a criminal charge,” says Immanuel. “Many people who come in with a criminal charge are also dealing with other issues, such as family matters, housing problems and so on. We can provide them with support for their criminal matter and refer them to the other supports they need.”
When support is available
Members of the community can make an appointment or walk in to the Rexdale Community Clinic, housed in the Rexdale Community Hub:
Family law services: A LAO family lawyer and legal aid worker are in the clinic every Monday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Immigration and refugee law services: A LAO refugee lawyer and Legal Aid Worker is available in the clinic every Tuesday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Criminal law services: A LAO criminal lawyer is in the clinic Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 5 p.m.
- LAO offers family and refugee services at Rexdale Community Legal Clinic
- Rexdale Youth Justice Initiative connects youth to duty counsel outside the courtroom
- Rexdale Community Legal Clinic finds new home in Rexdale community hub
For questions or further information, please contact: