Advancing client advocacy: The crucial role of ongoing legal training and education

Legal Aid Alberta is working to ensure high-quality legal representation for parents and guardians involved in the child welfare system.

Legal Aid Alberta
June 07, 2023

Last month, more than 100 lawyers from across Alberta attended Legal Aid Alberta’s free full-day training session on child welfare law, learning how they can best support parents and guardians involved in the child welfare system.

Child welfare matters pose unique challenges. Lawyers must skillfully balance the needs and rights of a parent while being considerate of the child’s well-being. Child welfare matters frequently require lawyers to navigate a complex web of provincial and federal legislation.

Recognizing these intricacies, Legal Aid Alberta established the Child Welfare Panel. The panel ensures quality representation for Albertan parents by providing vital support and education for their lawyers.

Bridging a knowledge gap

Panel membership requires a minimum of six hours per year of continuing legal education. The training, provided by Legal Aid Alberta at no cost to the lawyer, aims to empower lawyers on the panel with the necessary tools and information to effectively navigate the complexities of child welfare matters.

“It’s not an area where there’s a ton of training out there. Legal Aid Alberta has stepped up to provide opportunities for continued legal education in this area of law,” said Andrea Doyle, Senior Advisory Counsel with Legal Aid Alberta. “We want to ensure that the lawyers providing the representation have that innate knowledge of the legislation and court practices, as well as cultural competency” especially for their Indigenous clients.

Ask a Lawyer: Strengthening representation for parents in conflict with the child welfare system – Legal Aid Alberta

“Fantastic seminar”

LAA’s recent training session, held on May 26, featured 13 guest speakers including staff and roster lawyers with extensive backgrounds in child welfare proceedings as well as members of the judiciary. Topics ranged from how to conduct an initial custody hearing to strategies on preparing for trial, best practices for disclosure, how to challenge an expert and the important cases to be aware of. Throughout the session, lawyers engaged in a lively discussion on the most pressing issues and opportunities in child welfare law.

“Child welfare law is a complex and difficult area in which to practice. Facilitating training, sharing knowledge and resources is something that Legal Aid Alberta believes in so we can ensure quality counsel for individuals involved in the child welfare system.”

Lawyer panels at Legal Aid Alberta

Related article

A recording of the session is available for Legal Aid Alberta roster lawyers. Email [email protected] to request access.

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