Duty counsel are legal aid lawyers who give free advice in criminal, family and immigration cases in Canada. Duty counsel help Canadians more than 1.2 million* times each year.
In Alberta, duty counsel lawyers are currently assisting people in 75 communities.
The majority of people who appear in courts are self-represented and don’t have a lawyer. They are at risk of some very serious outcomes if they don’t understand what is happening or what is legally required of them at any given hearing – it could mean losing custody of their children, or being held in prison.
Duty counsel help people make informed decisions about how to best move forward.
Legal Aid Alberta, in partnership with Canada’s 12 other legal aid associations, are teaming up with schools across the country to educate the next generation of citizens about the importance of duty counsel to the justice system. Learning materials in English and French are available to teachers from coast to coast to coast.
Duty Counsel Lawyers: The unsung superheroes of the Canadian justice system
A message from the Right Honourable Richard Wagner, Chief Justice of Canada
Remarks from Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Canada’s 26th Governor General
Remarks from Honourable Patti LaBoucane-Benson, Senator, Alberta
Duty Counsel Day message from TV lawyer Nicole Muñoz of CBC Diggstown
Ask students to read a few short stories about duty counsel lawyers in Canada. Then discuss:
*Annual stats may vary
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For nearly 50 years, Legal Aid Alberta has supported Albertans during perhaps the most challenging days of their lives. We protect people’s rights, represent the best interests of children and youth, and defend clients at trial. We help families in crisis and disadvantaged citizens of all ages across the province, including rural areas, who have come into conflict with the law, including refugees and people who suffer mental illness or addiction. We are lawyers, call centre staff and administrative professionals working together to provide an essential service to Albertans.