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Lawyers plan 'blackout' to protest legal aid funding

By Shannon Sweeney

26 June 2014 at 10:41 BST

Lawyers in British Columbia are protesting for a month over the decrease of legal aid funding.

Lawyers are protesting legal aid funding in British Columbia. Max Lindenthaler

For over a month, the Trials Lawyers Association of British Columbia's Legal Aid Action Committee has called for a 'blackout' of all services funded by the Legal Services Society. The blackout hopes to get the organization's budget boosted, and calls from criminal defense lawyers across British Columbia to withdraw their services from legal aid from 5 July to 8 August in protest. The protest is against the decreasing funding levels for free legal programs serving low-income individuals, and lawyers in Vancouver, Victoria and Kamloops have committed to participating in the 'collective action.'


A bulletin sent to lawyers said that over the past 23 years, Legal Aid funding has decreased by more than 60 per cent, due to factors included 40 per cent of defendants representing themselves in provincial criminal courts and more people going to court alone in small claims and family courts. The bulletin also urges lawyers to refuse to work as duty counsel in provincial criminal courts, to schedule new trials, to accept new legal aid referrals, and to schedule guilty pleas, bail hearings and interim appearances during the blackout. Source: Straight.com


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