If you are under the age of 18 and have a legal problem that needs to be resolved, you can get in touch with JFCY. They will provide you with expert legal advice and ensure that you receive the legal protection that you are entitled to as a rights-holder. If you are unsure about how to contact JFCY, or if you would like to know what to expect when speaking to a lawyer, you may want to check out the answers to some of our frequently-asked questions:
How do people get referred to JFCY? Do they usually just walk in or call, or does another agency refer them?
JFCY resources (including our contact info and publications) are available at many schools (including the offices of school guidance counselors, social workers, child and youth workers and teachers), youth courts, shelters, community centres, youth drop-in facilities and other community agencies. As a result, people who work at our use services at these places often refer young people to JFCY. Also, the Kids Help Phone has our contact info and gives it out when kids are calling with an issue that has a legal component. Youth also contact us after finding our info on the internet, or learning about us from family and friends.
What are some of the most common issues that JFCY lawyers help with?
JFCY lawyers help with many different legal issues, including school problems (ie suspensions, expulsions), charges under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, social assistance entitlements (ie Ontario Works), and some family law issues. JFCY lawyers do their best to answer any legal questions that young people have, or provide referrals to other people or places to get more help. JFCY generally does not get involved in family law custody issues.
Do my parents need to be with me when I speak to a lawyer?
JFCY lawyers always speak directly to the young person, NOT their parents. Everything that you discuss is held completely confidential. The information is kept between you and the lawyer (as well as other lawyers on staff, if necessary). The exception to this is for school problems: the JFCY lawyer will speak with the young person and, when they have the young person’s permission, they will also speak with their parent(s). You can expect that the lawyer will keep whatever you tell them confidential, and wont talk to your parents about it unless you specifically ask the lawyer to do so.
How long does it take to see a lawyer, and does the lawyer usually just talk to clients on the phone, or do clients come into the office?
When a young person calls JFCY for assistance, they first speak with a trained intake worker, who is usually one of our administrative staff, a law student or a social work student. The intake worker will ask the young person for their contact info, birth date and details about their legal issue or questions. The information is then passed along to a lawyer and that lawyer will call the young person back within 2 business days, or 48 hours. For example, if someone called on Friday at lunch time, they can expect a call back no later than Tuesday at lunch. Using this timeline as a guide, the lawyer will try and get back to the young person as soon as possible, especially if their situation is urgent. Once the lawyer phones back, they will try and answer all of the young person’s questions over the phone. Occasionally, they will need to meet in person at the JFCY Office. Many legal questions can be answered over the phone. Other issues may involve the need for representation. This is when the lawyer will attend court with the young person or advocate on their behalf to other people.
If I need to set up an appointment with a lawyer, are there any forms or documents that I should bring with me? Do I need to prepare for the meeting in any way?
When you talk on the phone, the lawyer will tell you if you need to bring anything with you. You should be ready to talk about your legal issue with the lawyer. Remember that any conversations you have with your lawyer are confidential, which means that the lawyer will not tell anyone what you have talked about (unless you specifically ask them to do so). Your lawyer is not there to judge you in any way, but to represent you and give you advice on legal issues.
Can I see what the JFCY office looks like before arriving to meet with a lawyer?
When does a legal issue require going to court? How long do court cases usually last?
Sometimes young people must to go to court or to a tribunal to solve a legal issue. A tribunal is like a smaller "court" that deals with specific legal problems. Sometimes it is less formal than a regular court. Some examples of tribunals are the Landlord and Tenant Board (for housing issues) or the Discipline Committee of a school board. If a case requires attendance at court/tribunal, this often means that the young person must meet with their lawyer more frequently, and that the lawyer will be doing additional work to prepare for the case. There is no strict time-frame that applies to all legal cases. Some require more of a time commitment than others, depending on the complexity of the issue. Since cases can last for a long time, it is important for clients to tell their lawyers if they are moving or their contact information changes.
Other than court cases, how do other legal issues get resolved?
Many legal issues do not require attendance in court and instead are resolved through information sharing, phone calls or meetings. Many times, a young person’s legal questions will be answered directly by the JFCY lawyer and no trips to court are necessary. Other times, JFCY lawyers will help to resolve a legal issue by writing a letter on behalf of a young person or by negotiating a resolution to their legal problem with someone who is on the other side of the legal disagreement.
|The entrance to the JFCY office|
Thanks to PLE Team member Stefan Venier for writing this post, and JFCY lawyer Andrea Luey for providing the information about talking to a JFCY lawyer.