Last Thursday, the TRU Community Legal Clinic celebrated its move to a new location. The new office, now located at 623 Victoria Street in downtown Kamloops, offers expanded hours in a much larger space to better serve client needs.
“We have been operating here for about three months and at this location we are able to better serve the community than at our previous location at the Centre for Seniors Information on the North Shore,” said Ted Murray, the clinic’s supervising lawyer at the grand opening.
Though the office will have supervising lawyers, the staff will also be made up of TRU law students. This way, students can obtain real world experience, while helping those in the Kamloops community unable to afford legal assistance.
“This is an excellent example of your students getting the experience and our citizens getting a service,” Kamloops mayor Ken Christian said. “I think this is one of the advantages of being a host community for a university and the more we can do this, the better it is for the citizens of Kamloops and the university.
The legal clinic is a free service for anyone who meets the low-income requirements and it’s specifically aimed at helping senior citizens, students, minimum-wage earners and people who are out of work.
“This service, this legal clinic is definitely a conscious attempt to make some payback on the crisis of accessibility of legal services,” TRU president Alan Shaver said. “I am so proud of the faculty members and the students who initiated the setting up of a legal clinic in Kamloops.”
Though the clinic isn’t able to represent clients in areas such as family, criminal or business law, they are able to help out with residential tenancy issues, employment standards, small claims (civil claims under $35,000), Civil Resolution Tribunal claims (civil claims under $5,000) and human rights claims.
The clinic is also able to draft certain legal documents for clients such as simple wills, powers of attorney and representation agreements.
In addition to the law students and lawyers on staff, the clinic will also have two TRU social work students over the summer. TRU’s Dean of Law, Brad Morse, says that this is meant to help those on the legal side better understand the community and the social issues within it.
Funding for the non-profit clinic came from TRU, the United Way, The Law Foundation of British Columbia and the Stollery Charitable Foundation, as well as an anonymous donor. Other support was given by Farris LLP in Vancouver and the Law Society of British Columbia.
The Clinic is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. when classes are in session at TRU. Clients can call the switchboard at 778-471-8490 to book an appointment. Drop-ins are available most Mondays between 6 and 9 p.m., though there are no drop-in hours in April, August and December.