A Study on Legal Aid and Official Languages in Canada

Appendix C - INTERVIEW GUIDE REPRESENTATIVES OF LAWYERS SERVING OFFICIAL LANGUAGE GROUPS

Legal Aid and Official Languages in Canada
Representatives of lawyers serving official language groups

The Department of Justice Canada has recently launched a nation-wide study on the use of both official languages in the provision of legal aid services. The objectives of this study are:

  • To identify the policies and practices that are currently in place within legal aid plans regarding the provision of legal aid services in both official languages.
  • To identify the difficulties that clients may encounter in accessing legal aid services in their official language of choice.
  • To determine the increased level of service that may be required in order to ensure access to legal aid services in both official languages, and the cost of these increased levels of service.

While not excluding issues surrounding civil and family matters, the focus of this research is on issues pertaining to criminal matters.

The following questions cover issues relating to the legal aid services currently offered in the official language of the minority, the need for these services, the challenges to the provision of these services, and possible initiatives and their associated costs.

Introduction

[Questions 1 and 2 are applicable to jurisdictions with a judicare delivery model]

  • 1. To your knowledge, what is the extent to which members of your association are involved in providing legal aid services (percentage of members, cases of which you are aware, etc)?
  • 2. Can you comment on the general perception of your members toward the provision of legal aid services? Do they generally carry out legal aid mandates? If not, why?

[Question 3 is applicable to jurisdictions with a staff delivery model]

  • 3. In general, what is the capacity of Legal Aid offices in providing services in the official language of the minority? (Any particular regions or areas? Any particular types of services?)
  • 4. Has your organization currently been involved in any new initiatives or activities relating to the provision of legal aid services in the official language of the minority? If yes, please describe these activities.

Legal aid services in the official language of the minority

  • 5. Are you aware of any policies, formal or informal, in place for the provision of legal aid services in the language of the minority? If yes, please describe.
  • 6. To your knowledge, what legal aid services and resources are currently available in the official language of the minority?
  • 7. What are the most significant gaps in the range of legal aid services and resources available in the official language of the minority?
  • 8. Are you aware of the procedure that must be undertaken by a client in order to obtain legal aid services in the official language of the minority? If yes, please describe. In your opinion, how accessible are these services? Please explain.

Need for legal aid services in the official language of the minority

  • 9. How would you describe the need for services in the language of the minority in the following areas:
    • Brydges representation?
    • Duty counsel?
    • Advice and assistance?
    • Representation in criminal matters?
    • Representation in family and civil matters?
    • Information requests/Information line?
    • Any other areas?

    Of all these various areas, can you identify those that should be addressed in priority?

  • 10. Can you recommend a strategy or avenues to be pursued to ensure a greater access for legal aid clients to services in their official language of choice?
  • 11. In your opinion, what importance do clients place on receiving legal services in their official language of choice? What do you think is the importance of actively offering services in the official language of the minority?
  • 12. In what ways would you say the provision of legal aid services in the language of the minority might be beneficial to legal aid clients (understanding of procedures, communication between lawyer and client, results of case, etc)? What are the consequences, if any, of not providing legal aid services in both official languages?

Challenges to the provision of legal aid services in both official languages

  • 13. Please describe the main barriers that may prevent the provision or expansion of legal aid services in the official language of choice (systemic barriers, linguistic barriers, financial barriers, etc).
  • 14. Based on the legal aid delivery model in your province (staff lawyers vs. judicare), what would you say are the challenges that exist in relation to the provision or expansion of legal aid services in the official language of the minority (staffing, model requirements, budget constraints, etc)?
  • 15. In your opinion, what is the nature of the changes that should be made in order to ensure that legal aid services be available in the official language of choice? In what ways can identified barriers and challenges be overcome?

Conclusion

  • 16. Do you have any other comments?

Your participation is greatly appreciated!

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