Putting Access To Justice In Reach

Rise Women’s Legal Centre

Rise LogoFounded by West Coast LEAF and the Peter A. Allard School of Law at UBC and with a significant contribution from an anonymous donor, Rise Women’s Legal Centre is a full-service storefront family law legal clinic serving low income women in the Lower Mainland.

Rise is the first new legal clinic in BC to offer representation services since the 1980s. The acute need for an organization like Rise stems from almost 15 years of devastating cuts to the legal aid system in BC. These cuts have meant that only the most high conflict cases — usually involving domestic violence — and only the most low income women qualify for help, leaving many more without meaningful access to justice.

Working primarily in family law matters such as child custody, protection orders and spousal support, Rise enhances access to justice in three ways: first, by providing legal advice and representation primarily to low income women who have no other means of getting legal help; second, by creating an opportunity for law students to learn how to deliver community-based legal services and carry forward a commitment to providing access to justice and family law services in their legal careers; third, by identifying cases that have the potential to advance women’s legal rights at a systemic level.

Women have a particular need to access legal services – although cuts to legal aid have been negative for everyone, they have had a disproportionate impact on women in this province. Moreover, due to the rising cost of legal services, even many low middle income earners need an affordable alternative to full-service private law firms. -  Kim Hawkins, Executive Director at Rise

From the beginning, Rise has recognized the need to develop a revenue model that will allow it to further its impact and diversify its revenue streams. Vancity Community Foundation has supported Rise by helping it build out its business model through market validation and financial projections as it works to explore innovative models that make this essential legal service accessible to more low income women and financially sustainable for the organization.