Making Legal Referrals – Access Pro Bono & CLAS

When doing legal reference work, you may find that the legal information you locate can only take you so far. If your patron is asking questions about how they should proceed or what you would do in their position, that is an indication that they need legal advice (make sure to check out our guide on Legal Information & Legal Advice for more tips in navigating these types of interactions!).  

In that circumstance, your next course of action should be to give them a referral to a legal help program that can give them the advice and assistance they need. But giving a legal referral can be tricky if you don’t know where to start or who to refer to. To help with this, we wanted to give you an overview of the services provided by two organizations that provide free legal help provincially in BC – Access Pro Bono and Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS). Both of these organizations serve a provincial audience, meaning that you can refer clients to them from anywhere in the province.  

The information in this blog post is also available through the Free Legal Services in BC: An Overview of CLAS and APB Programs webinar, hosted by CLBC in January and now available on the CLBC Vimeo channel.  


Access Pro Bono 

Access Pro Bono operates several pro bono programs as well as a free lawyer referral service, working toward their vision of a justice system where all British Columbians have access to the legal help they need. These programs are meant to service low- to modest-income individuals and families. The programs also refer between each other – if a client approaches a specific program but another program would be best suited to help them, Access Pro Bono will refer the client on.  

All Access Pro Bono programs, besides the Lawyer Referral Service, have the same eligibility criteria. To be eligible for Access Pro Bono services, the client must: 

  • Live in BC 

  • Not be eligible for legal aid

The client must also meet the following financial criteria: 

  • For households of 1-3 people, have a gross annual income of $60,000 or less 

  • For households of 4 or above people, have a gross annual income of $84,000 or less 


Summary Advice program 

Helps with: Immigration, Family, Criminal, and Civil law matters 

Type of help available: Clients can receive a 30-minute appointment to receive legal advice. Clients are not limited to only one appointment; they can contact the program again to have multiple 30-minute appointments. 

Outside program’s scope: Business law, legal malpractice suits, and real estate transactions. The program also doesn’t assist with the drafting or signing of legal documents. The program does not provide representation for clients in court.  

How to refer: Clients can call 1-877-762-6664 or fill out the Online Triage form 


Civil Chambers Program 

Helps with: Civil litigation matters for individuals appearing in Civil (non-family) chambers proceedings at BC Supreme Court in Vancouver. 

Type of help available: Legal advice and representation. They can also help with negotiating with the other party, as well as with filing and swearing affidavits. Important to note though, they can only assist with in-progress court matters. 

Outside program’s scope: The program does not assist companies or non-profits. They also cannot assist with Criminal or Family law matters.  

How to refer: Clients can call 778-357-1300 or email to book an appointment.  


Wills Clinic 

Helps with: Wills and personal planning document creation  

Type of help available: This program assists clients with creating wills, representation agreements, and enduring power of attorney. Lawyers will meet with the client and do an assessment for capacity and potential of undue influence. Then the lawyer drafts the documents and has a second meeting with the client to sign and witness them.  

Additional eligibility requirements: The client’s estate must be less than $200,000. The client must be over 55 years of age or have a terminal illness.  

How to refer: Clients can use the Online Triage Form, email, or leave a voicemail at 604-424-9600 with their contact information and basic information regarding their legal needs.  


Employment Standards Program 

Helps with: Employment law issues and appearing before BC’s Employment Standards Branch 

Type of help available: Legal representation for those appearing before the Employment Standards Branch. That said, representation is not guaranteed, as it is dependent on the volunteers available and their time. If representation is not available, the program will provide legal advice.  

How to refer: Clients can fill out the Online Triage Form, email, or call 604-482-3195 ext. 1500.  


Residential Tenancy Program 

Helps with: Tenancy law issues and appearing before BC’s Residential Tenancy Branch, for both tenants and landlords.  

Type of help available: Legal representation for those appearing before the Residential Tenancy Branch. That said, representation is not guaranteed, as it is dependent on the volunteers available and their time. If representation is not available, the program will provide legal advice. They can also help with other tenancy law matters including contesting an eviction, disputing an illegal rent increase, seeking order for repairs, and more. See their website for more details.  

How to refer: Clients can fill out the Online Triage Form, email, or call 1-877-762-6664 ext. 1500 or 604-482-3195 ext. 1500.  


Mental Health Program 

Helps with: Mental Health Act detainment issues 

Types of help available: legal advice over the phone for individuals detained under BC’s Mental Health Act and/or their family and relatives. Lawyers can advise on applying for a review, what it means to be certified under the Mental Health Act, how to prepare for a hearing, and more. See website for details. Those seeking advice will receive a referral to another program.  

How to refer: Clients can fill out the Online Triage Form, email, or call 1-877-762-6664 ext 1500 or 604-482-3195 ext 1500.  


Roster Programs 

Helps with: All litigation matters.  

Types of help available: There are multiple programs available under the Roster Program umbrella which can help with various types of legal matters and work to match individuals and non-profits with legal representation. See the website for a full list of programs available under Roster Programs. 

How to refer: Clients must be referred to the Roster Program through a community provider, meaning individuals cannot refer themselves. Referrals are often done through Access Pro Bono’s Summary Advice Program.  


Lawyer Referral Service 

Helps with: Helps individuals find a suitable lawyer to help resolve their legal matter.  

Types of help available: Free half hour consultation with a lawyer over the phone. If a client would like further help, they can retain the lawyer at a rate agreed upon. There’s no obligation to continue with a lawyer after the first half hour.  

How to refer: Clients can call 1-800-663-1919 or 604-687-3221.  


Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS)  

CLAS is a non-profit organization, serving BC since 1971. They provide legal assistance to members of the public in BC with the aim of advancing the law to help those discriminated against. They run a variety of different programs, all of which offer legal assistance and have different eligibility requirements.  

Even with the information below, it is important for people to get in touch with the particular programs directly to see whether that program can help them.  


Community Law Program 

Helps with: Legal issues in the areas of housing and income security, human rights, mental health rights, and workers’ rights.  

Types of help: summary legal advice to help the client understand their options, guidance so the client can represent themselves, and full representation, depending on the availability of lawyers and the merit of the case.  

Eligibility criteria: available to low-income people 

Outside their scope: Eviction notices, Ministry of Social Development and Reduction of Poverty decisions, Workers’ Compensation Board decisions, those detained under the Mental Health Act. 

How to refer: Clients can fill out the Online Form, email or call 1-888-685-6222 or 604-685-3425.  


Mental Health Law Program 

Helps with: BC Mental Health Act detainment or those subject to the Mental Disorder Provisions in the Criminal Code. Those looking for help from this program must have already applied for a review panel hearing.  

Type of help available: Representation 

Eligibility criteria: To be eligible, the individual must have been involuntarily detained under the BC Mental Health Act or subject to the Mental Disorder Provisions in the Criminal Code. Important to note, this program does not have financial eligibility criteria.  

How to refer: The hospital and/or review board should refer the person to the program. Staff at the program will then reach out directly to the person.  Clients can also contact the program by emailing or calling 1-888-685-6222 or 604-685-3425.  


BC Human Rights Clinic 

Helps with: Human rights issues, specifically for those who have cases before the BC Human Rights Tribunal. The complaint must have been accepted by the Tribunal, be a case of discrimination, and pass a merit assessment.  

Types of help available: This program offers different levels of assistance, including 30 minute appointments for legal advice, 1-2 hours of legal assistance, and full legal representation for those appearing before the Human Rights Tribunal. The program also includes information, advocacy, and education aspects which serve to protect existing rights and prevent discrimination.  

Eligibility criteria: To be eligible, the client must not be able to access other assistance, such as legal aid. Eligibility considerations also include the income of the client, if the person is capable of representing themselves, the urgency of the application/whether hearing is soon, and the capacity of the clinic.  

How to refer: The legal services aspect of the clinic can be contacted at Clients can also call the Human Rights Info Line to general information about the BC Human Rights Code and Tribunal process. The Info Line can be reached at 1-855-682-6222 or 604-622-1100 or at  


Community Advocate Support Line 

This is a support service specifically for legal advocates and community workers across BC and is not meant for the public. For this reason, the phone number is not available publicly and you cannot refer patrons to them.  


Sexual Harassment Advice, Response, and Prevention for Workplaces (SHARP Workplaces) 

Helps with: Workplace sexual harassment. those who have experienced or who are experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace. The program is a partnership between CLAS and the Ending Violence Association of BC and also provides public education about workplace sexual harassment and prevention to non-profits, Indigenous organizations, and small businesses. 

Type of help available: Provides legal advice to those who have experienced or who are experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace. The program provides five hours of free, confidential legal advice from a lawyer. The lawyer can help clients understand whether they’ve experienced sexual harassment, their legal options, how to deal with it in the workplace, draft legal documents or settlement, and coach them through the legal process. The program can also refer clients to counselling and employment help options.  

Eligibility criteria: This program does not have financial eligibility criteria. 

Outside program’s scope: The program cannot provide representation.  

How to refer: Clients can complete the online Application for Legal Services, email, or call 1-888-685-6222 or 604-673-3143. For Education and Training through SHARP Workplaces, you can email or call 604-682-8820.  


We hope this post will give you a better understanding of the programs offered by these organizations and give you more confidence when making referrals to them. When looking for referral options, always remember to check the Clicklaw HelpMap, which you can search by keyword and/or location.