LAO supports licensed paralegal services for refugee claimants
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) has selected the Rexdale Community Legal Clinic to run a year-long pilot that provides refugee claimants with the full-time services of an in-house licensed paralegal.
“LAO recognizes that licensed paralegals can provide a wide range of cost-effective, efficient, quality services to refugee claimants,” says Jawad Kassab, LAO’s Executive Lead, Refugee Transformation.
LAO chose the Rexdale Community Legal Clinic for this pilot to serve the large number of refugee claimants (primarily from Nigeria, Somalia and Pakistan) in this community from one location.
The Rexdale Community Legal Clinic is in the Rexdale Community Hub. This hub provides health, social, legal, employment and cultural services to the people in its catchment area — the M9W, M9V, M9R, and M9P postal code — in collaboration with a number of partners, including:
- the Rexdale Community Health Centre
- the Rexdale Women’s Centre
- Rexdale Employment Services and
- the Somali Business Development Centre.
Over the year to come, the licensed paralegal at Rexdale Community Legal Clinic will, under the supervision of two experienced refugee lawyers:
- interview refugee claimants
- prepare Basis of Claim (BOC) forms
- help claimants gather evidence (such as medical reports) to support their claim
- file BOC forms with the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB)
- prepare refugee claimants for hearings before the IRB
- review files and supporting evidence
- represent clients at hearings before the RPD of the IRB.
Paralegals are licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada to provide legal advice, document preparation and representation before administrative tribunals such as the Immigration and Refugee Board.
LAO will evaluate this initiative on an ongoing basis and assess its value after a year. In addition, as part of its ongoing assessment of all its service delivery models for refugee claimants, LAO will continue to consult with relevant stakeholders on engaging licensed paralegals to deliver refugee services.
This pilot is one of a number of LAO service delivery initiatives aimed at diversifying LAO’s refugee services model, supporting community-based client legal services and delivering cost-effective, efficient, quality legal representation.
In addition to Rexdale, financially eligible refugee claimants without counsel can choose to attain legal aid services from:
- LAO’s staff office services in Toronto and Ottawa
- the Centre Francophone de Toronto legal aid clinic (for Francophones)
- a private bar lawyer on an LAO panel
If you have any questions or require further information please contact:
Executive Lead, Refugee Transformation