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Just Ask Angie: How to find free legal information online

Q: Are there any places you can recommend for free legal information online?
Just Ask Angie file
Angie Theilmann is a information and referral specialist at the Sunshine Coast Resource Centre. She has a biweekly column with the Coast Reporter.

Q: Are there any places you can recommend for free legal information online? 

A: At the Resource Centre, many of you are aware that we are a community partner with Legal Aid BC, which means we get funding from them to help locals navigate the legal maze and find the help they need. One great online source of legal information is put there by the People’s Law School, a B.C. non-profit that is “dedicated to making the law accessible to everyone.” They offer free education and info to help people deal with everyday legal issues.  

Once you get to their website, peopleslawschool.ca, there are four main sections listed at the top of the page: 1) Everyday legal problems, 2) Q&A, 3) Webinars and 4) Publications.  

Under the heading “Everyday Legal Problems,” topics are sorted into categories like “Work,” “Home & Neighbours,” “Wills & Estates,” “Consumer” and lots more. Say you look under “Wills & Estates,” you’ll find subtopics like “Dealing with an estate” or “Filling out probate or administration forms.” Under the “Consumer” category, there are some good sub-categories, like “template letters & agreements” (generic templates for a variety of legal-related letters you may want to send) or “cellphones,” linking to articles around things like canceling cellphone contracts, switching phone providers or stopping unwanted calls. 

The “Q&A” (questions and answers) heading is just that: relatable questions people have written in that get answered in Q & A format and reviewed for legal accuracy by lawyers. (You can submit a question too, using the online form on their website or by calling or emailing them.) 

The “Webinar” heading is where you can learn about and register for free upcoming webinars offered by People’s Law School. It’s also a place to find and watch past webinars that were recorded and posted for your viewing pleasure. For example, on Sept. 20, there was a webinar called “Renting in BC,” aimed at both tenants and landlords. Other past topics include “Making a Will in B.C.,” “Buying a used car in B.C.” or “Dealing with neighbour disputes.” I bet if you go through what’s there, you’ll find at least a couple relevant webinars to your own life and situation. 

“Publications” is the fourth and last heading. These can be really handy to have on hand when – or before – you need them. A few of the many publication topics include “When I’m 64: Benefits for older adults,” “Workplace Bullying & Harassment” and “Scams to avoid.” There are also a good number of publications around wills and estates. We have hard copies of a number of these publications in our office for clients who need them. 

Aside from sifting through their various headings, a good way to navigate this website is by using the search bar in the top right-hand corner of the screen (look for the magnifying glass icon). Type whatever you’re curious about in there i.e. “divorce” or “debt” and your search will sift through the entire website so you don’t have to. 

People’s Law School lists an email and phone number where you can contact them If you have trouble finding what you need, People’s Law School lists an email, info@peopleslawschool.ca and phone, 604-331-5400.  Follow them on Twitter @PLSBC and on Facebook @Peopleslawschool. They also have a newsletter to stay up to date with upcoming learning and events. 

Keep in mind this is a legal information site, not a legal advice site. If you are looking for free legal advice on something that’s going on in your life and need help connecting to advice, get in touch with the Resource Centre and we can suggest some places that do offer advice services. As well, if you are interested in exploring this website, but need a device to use to do this, get in touch with us and we can book some time to use one of our tablets to do this. 

Angie Theilmann is an information and referral specialist at the Sunshine Coast Resource Centre, your community information hub. The Resource Centre is open Monday to Thursday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Appointments are recommended to be sure we are available to help you. Note: on some days, we can book clients after 2 p.m. Contact us: help@resourcecentre.ca or 604-885-4088.