Choosing a legal representative is very important. Learn how your legal representative should work with you, what they should not do, and what your role is. Find out what to do if you think your representative is not doing a good job.
Role of a legal representative
Your legal representative should:
- Set a date to meet with you about your claim, where they:
- tell you about their legal experience
- ask you about your claim and listen to your story
- explain the laws you need to know
- tell you about your options
- tell you how long the process will take
- explain the next steps
- Explain how you will stay in contact with each other
- Keep in contact with you at each step and decide things with you
- Tell you what evidence you need for your claim
- Review your evidence and send it to the IRB-RPD
- Meet with you to prepare you for your hearing
- Prepare any witnesses for your hearing
- Show that they are ready for your hearing
- Get an interpreter for meetings and for your hearing, if needed
- Let you know if they make a mistake
- Listen to your ideas and follow your instructions (or if they disagree, explain why)
- Come to your refugee hearing organized and prepared
Your role as the client
Even if you have a legal representative, this is still YOUR claim:
- Know how much time your representative can give you. This includes emails, phone calls, and meetings. Always prepare first so you can make the best use of their time.
- Be honest so they can help you in the best way.
- Take notes when you talk to them. Write down what you need to do next and when. Or ask them for a copy of their notes.
- Do what they advise you to do. Ask for help when you need it.
- Give them any evidence and documents they ask for and any new information you have. Do not send anything to the IRB-RPD without talking to them first.
- Share any important news about your country with them.
- Stay in contact about important dates.
- Make sure they know your current contact information and where to leave messages.
- Talk about any disagreement you have.
What your legal representative should not do
Your legal representative should not:
- Stop contacting you
- Send in a form without their name on it as your representative
- Tell you to lie or leave out information on any document
- Suggest that you use false documents or evidence
- Ask you to sign a blank or incomplete form
- Refuse to explain what they are doing, answer your questions, or give you copies of your documents and forms
- Refuse to do what you ask without a good reason
- Act unprofessional (for example, be rude or impatient with you)
- Promise that you will be successful in your refugee claim. Only the IRB-RPD decides this. Be careful if they say that they “know someone” at IRCC, the IRB-RPD, or a Canadian embassy.
Concerns about your legal representative
You may get worried that your legal representative is not doing their job properly. If you can, try to talk to them to solve the problem. If that does not help:
- If you have a legal aid lawyer, contact your local legal aid office. Sometimes you can change your legal aid lawyer if you have a good reason. If legal aid lets you change, you must tell your lawyer in writing and they give your information to the new lawyer.
- If your representative works in a company, ask their supervisor to help you.
- Contact your representative’s professional organization for help.
If you cannot find a representative of any kind, you must do your BOC Form yourself, and go to your hearing.
If you do not have legal help:
- Read the Claimant’s Guide.
- Read Legal and Policy resources.
- Read the National Documentation Package for your country.
- Take a Ready Tour.
- Register for the MyCase portal. This website allows you to:
- check on the progress of your claim,
- update your contact information with the IRB-RPD, and
- send in evidence for your refugee claim.
- Use this website as your guide.
- Read everything the CBSA and IRB-RPD send to you and follow the instructions.
- Be familiar with your BOC Form, your narrative, and your evidence. Make sure everything in these documents is true.
- Get help from family, friends, or other people in the community you can trust. For example, someone who is good at reading and writing might be happy to help you.