Updated Notice About NS Legal Aid Services

Visit the NSLA website

May 5, 2020

Dear NSLA Clients, Applicants, Community Partners & Stakeholders:

RE:          NOVA SCOTIA LEGAL AID SERVICES

As a result of enhanced directives from the Province of Nova Scotia and the state of emergency, Nova Scotia Legal Aid (NSLA) Offices are closed to the public. We are providing the updated information below to assist you with contacting our offices, or in referring Nova Scotians to our service. Please note that updates to services or new services since the April 1, 2020 notice are noted in red.

General Information

  • Although NSLA Offices are closed to the public, as an essential service, we will continue to help Nova Scotians who require our services.
  • Although our physical offices are closed, staff are working remotely, and office main lines are operational. NSLA Offices can be reached by telephone, or email. A list of offices can be found at https://www.nslegalaid.ca/legal-aid-offices/
  • Voicemail and email accounts will be regularly monitored.
  • NSLA Offices will not be regularly staffed so please do not send anything via fax.
  • If a Legal Aid client has an upcoming court matter, they should contact their lawyer regarding their court date if they have not already heard from them.
  • All outreach into communities by NSLA staff will be suspended until further notice.
  • Please be patient when contacting NSLA and expect delays in receiving a response to telephone calls, emails, or an application. As a result of changes in service due to COVID-19, there will be a large increase in the volume of calls, emails, and online applications which staff must handle.

Appointments & Applying for Legal Aid

  • If an individual has an appointment at a NSLA Office, they should call the office so other arrangements can be made. Appointments with NSLA may be held by telephone or video if possible.
  • Applicants for legal aid services can apply online at https://www.nslegalaid.ca/online-application/. NSLA Offices will screen applications for urgent matters first. With an expected increase in the volume of online applications, we ask applicants to please be patient in waiting to hear from NSLA regarding their application.

Criminal Law Matters (Adult & Youth) & Domestic Violence

Family Law Matters

  • Updates regarding the status of all courts can be found on the NS Courts website at: https://www.courts.ns.ca/News_of_Courts/COVID19_Preventative_Measures.htm
  • NSLA is continuing to provide family summary advice services at all Courthouses through scheduled telephone appointments. This service is available to Nova Scotians who do not qualify financially for legal aid.
  • NSLA has expanded its family summary advice services by making it available by telephone at all Legal Aid Offices that provide family law services. Details: https://www.nslegalaid.ca/expansion-of-family-law-summary-advice-and-online-chats/
  • A Support Variation Pilot Process has been put in place effective May 4, 2020. This is a joint Pilot of the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP), Courts Services and NSLA. MEP will identify self-represented parties who have had a change of income as a result of COVID-19 and, with the individual’s consent, will notify the Managing Lawyer of the appropriate NSLA Office and MEP will also advise the individual to apply for Legal Aid.
  • Online chats with a lawyer for family matters will continue and an extra day has been added. Family law chats are now being held every Tuesday and Thursday from 3-5 pm. Click on the chat button on our website to start https://www.nslegalaid.ca/

Social Justice (Income & Housing Matters)

  • Social Justice services are still available. NSLA offers legal advice and possibly full-service representation for income and housing matters. Contact local NSLA Office to apply.
  • Individuals facing a loss of income and have questions about accessing regular or sickness Employment Insurance (EI) Benefits, or the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) can obtain help from NSLA. Details: https://www.nslegalaid.ca/updated-information-about-ei-cerb-covid-19/
  • Online chats with a lawyer/advocate for social justice matters will continue. Online chats for income and housing issues are held every Wednesday from 3-5 pm. Click on the chat button on our website to start https://www.nslegalaid.ca/

Prison Law Services

We appreciate your patience and cooperation during this time.

Yours sincerely,

Megan Longley, QC

Chief Executive Officer