Community Legal Worker

Black Legal Action Centre (BLAC)

The Black Legal Action Centre is seeking a Community Legal Worker.

The Black Legal Action Centre (BLAC) is a not‑for‑profit corporation incorporated under the laws of Ontario to combat individual and systemic anti‑Black racism by providing legal services to members of Ontario's Black communities, including engaging in advocacy, community development, law reform, test case litigation, and public legal education. BLAC is an independent community legal clinic funded by Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) and governed by a volunteer Board of Directors.

JOB TITLE: Community Legal Worker

REPORTS TO: Executive Director/Staff Lawyer

PURPOSE OF POSITION

The Community Legal Worker is responsible for community outreach, public education and advocating law reform. Client intake, providing summary advice, client representation, and providing other assistance to members of the community to ensure awareness, understanding and achievement of their legal rights are also key components of the position.

The proportion of time spent in these activities may vary from time to time and is to be periodically reviewed.

MINIMUM HIRING REQUIREMENTS

Paralegal Licence and in good standing with the Law Society of Ontario. Demonstrated commitment to community and/or legal work related to anti‑Black racism, human rights and/or anti‑discrimination. Experience dealing with the public is essential. Computer literacy is essential. The ability to communicate well, both orally and in writing is essential. Must be able to work occasional evenings.

Desirable: Relevant experience in law specifically related to clinic services. A second language is an asset.

MAJOR DUTIES & RESPONSIBILITIES

Community Development, Outreach and Education

  • Identify issues for public legal education based on knowledge of legislative or policy developments
  • Develop educational materials and self‑help packages to inform the public of their rights, obligations and benefits
  • Distribute educational materials and self‑help kits to increase client awareness and understanding of legal issues
  • Arrange necessary logistical details associated with clinic events; community development and public education programs and seminars
  • Participate and/or present, as assigned, in community development activities and law reform activities designed to further the legal interests and improve the lives of Black Ontarians
  • Keep informed of information related to inter‑clinic working group meetings;
  • Participate and/or present, as assigned, in committees and organizations representing client concerns, including inter‑clinic working groups
  • Conduct research to identify the need for new or changes to existing services and programs
  • Advocate clinic services to increase community awareness
  • Provide specialty legal services to other clinics
  • Act as a resource person for community groups based on knowledge of the community, client issues and concerns and clinic operations
  • Participate in public legal education activities within the clinic's areas of expertise
  • Research, prepare and produce oral and written public legal education sessions and in-house training sessions on legal issues, and participate in events as public speaker/conference presenter

Summary Advice

  • Promptly and accurately explore and investigate each client problem to establish accurate and thorough knowledge of all relevant facts; assess the merit of the case; identify issues to be resolved through research
  • Provide legal advice and/or information in a clear and concise manner and handle all aspects of legal summary advice under the supervision of the Executive Director and/or the Staff Lawyer(s) in all areas in which the clinic practices; ensure client understands advice and direction given
  • Complete and document new and summary intakes promptly (same day unless exceptional circumstances) accurately and completely; including accurate documentation of all related contacts, developments and correspondence
  • Keep up‑to‑date records on all information, legal advice and case contacts so information is easily understandable and retrievable by supervisor(s); document all work in electronic data base and maintain files as dictated by clinic policy
  • Update referral sources and lists to ensure accuracy in referrals
  • Provide advocacy effectively for persons having difficulty with access to other services or resources
  • Exercise good judgment in deciding when to refer client(s) to others in the clinic, or to the private bar
  • Assess when a matter requires legal services beyond summary advice and take appropriate steps accordingly; seek advice from Executive Director or Staff Lawyer(s) when appropriate
  • Provide assistance with applications or other forms where there is a language or social problem
  • Ensure consistent follow-up and updates to managers and client(s)
  • Handle emergencies as assigned or as required by the circumstances

Casework

  • Obtain proper authorization for opening and closing files and obtain instructions from client before undertaking legal work
  • Maintain knowledge of poverty law, various associated statutes and regulations in order to advise clients and /or act as legal representative on behalf of clients in formal settings (i.e., before administrative tribunals)
  • Represent clients at administrative tribunals based on knowledge of rules, procedures and practices of tribunals; ensure client(s) legal position presented
  • Research relevant legislation, jurisprudence and policy to ensure accurate dissemination of information to client(s) regarding their specific issue(s)
  • Interview clients and witnesses to gather relevant information and verify understanding of legal issues
  • Identify legal issues, assess merit and develop appropriate case strategy based on investigation findings and legal research and in consultation with the Executive Director and/or Staff Lawyer(s)
  • Explain legal issues and rights, responsibilities, obligations, benefits, options and potential outcomes to client(s) ensuring understanding
  • Prepare client(s) and witnesses for examination/cross examination
  • Draft arguments, settlements and other documentation required for client representation under the direction of the Executive Director and/or Staff Lawyer
  • Complete correspondence and documentation required to represent client(s)
  • Keep client(s) informed at all stages of the proceedings; ensure appropriate documentation in file
  • Comply with LSUC and office policies with respect to trust accounts, ticklers, personal bring forward systems, global diary and docket
  • Attend Board meetings, as required

Law Reform/Research

  • Assist with preparation of briefs and responses to new legislation and policy, as assigned
  • Prepare materials and presentations on law reform issues, participate in law reform activities, other than litigation and research for law reform, as assigned
  • Conduct research for law reform litigation and participate in other law reform activities including participation on public/government/consultation committees, as assigned

Administration/Clinic Operations

  • Assist in preparation of legal services reports for the clinic's Board of Directors
  • Preparation of operational statistics to inform Board of clinic services and activities; attend Board meetings, as required
  • Assist in preparation of monthly, quarterly and annual statistical reports for LAO
  • Assist in preparation of annual funding application to LAO
  • Attend meetings with staff, as required
  • Other duties, as determined by the Executive Director

WORKING CONDITIONS

  • The successful applicant must be able to travel (by airplane, train, or car) throughout Ontario; occasional overnight travel may be require
  • Work may involve frequent exposure to difficult situations (e.g.: providing advice to upset or agitated client(s))
  • High volume of contacts and requirement to multi‑task
  • Use of electronic equipment and information technology

ESSENTIAL SKILLS

  • Possess strong legal skills including research and analysis, negotiation and advocacy
  • Ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing
  • Ability to work effectively in an organization under the direction of a volunteer Board of Directors
  • Ability to negotiate and manage third party relationships, including with partner organizations, as assigned
  • Ability to organize, plan, and implement activities appropriate to advance organizational objectives
  • Commitment to social justice, particularly combatting anti‑Black racism, and delivering high quality legal services to low‑income individuals and groups
  • Excellent computer skills
  • Willing and able to work independently, and to make independent decisions
  • High ethical standards
  • Excellent time management skills and ability to multi‑task and prioritize work
  • Strong interpersonal skills focused on building and maintaining positive relationships with all levels of staff, clients, volunteers and external stakeholders
  • Attention to detail and problem‑solving skills
  • Demonstrated ability to advocate for clients with the public at large and similar organizations
  • Ability to utilize analytical, interpretive, evaluative and constructive thinking
  • Proficiency in MS Office (MS Word and MS Outlook, in particular); familiarity with email scheduling tools

SALARY

Salary will be based on relevant experience and be within the range of average salaries of Community Legal Workers in other LAO‑funded clinics.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Please apply via e-mail with a cover letter and resume by February 1, 2019 to the Hiring Committee at info@blacklegalactioncentre.ca. Please use the subject title "Community Legal Worker" in your email.

If you require any accommodation during the interview process please contact BLAC at info@blacklegalactioncentre.ca to make appropriate arrangements.

While we thank all applicants for their interest, only those selected for an interview will be contacted.

We welcome applications from people who are reflective of the diverse communities we serve.

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