Articles with Legal Services Branch
The Legal Services Branch (LSB) supports the Attorney General as the legal advisor to the government of British Columbia. LSB ensures that the administration of public affairs is carried out in accordance with the law. All legal services to government respecting civil matters are delivered by or under the supervision of LSB lawyers.
LSB generally hires seven students each articling year. Six are based in Victoria and one is based in Vancouver. One of the Victoria positions is for an Aboriginal Canadian student. Aboriginal applicants are encouraged to apply for all ministry articled student positions.
LSB is divided into the Barrister Division, the Solicitor Division, Office of Legislative Counsel and the Office of the Assistant Deputy Attorney General. To gain experience in diverse areas of the law, articled students rotate through five or six practice groups within those divisions and may also choose to do a rotation with a private firm, the Justice Services Branch or the Prosecution Service.
The responsibilities of the Civil Litigation Group include:
- Conducting all civil litigation involving the government, including appearing on behalf of the government and retaining and instructing experts in a wide variety of areas as part of the trial process
- Advising on the likely outcome of civil litigation involving the government
- Conducting civil forfeiture files, including drafting Notices of Civil Claim, affidavits and various other documents, including making Supreme Court chambers applications, attending client meetings, and negotiating with defence counsel
Students on rotation with the Civil Litigation Group might draft pleadings or factums and attend discoveries, settlement conferences and hearings before the Supreme Court of British Columbia, the B.C. Court of Appeal and administrative tribunals. Under the supervision of a lawyer, articled students also have conduct of small claims files.
The responsibilities of the Constitutional and Administrative Law Group include:
- Appearing on behalf of government in court and before administrative tribunals on constitutional and administrative law matters
- Preparing formal constitutional opinions on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and division of powers
- Reviewing legal opinions prepared by other members of the branch that may have a constitutional or administrative law component
- Providing legal advice on freedom of information and protection of privacy issues
Students on rotation with the Constitutional and Administrative Law Group might assist with any of the matters above, including appearing before administrative tribunals. They might also conduct Rowbotham applications for state-funded defence counsel in criminal matters, and research and draft legal opinions.
Solicitors advise government ministries and work closely with Legislative Counsel on regulations and statutes. They also work with lawyers in the Barrister Division in litigation arising from their clients' programs and activities.
The Aboriginal Law and Litigation Group provides support and litigation on Aboriginal cases involving the government, and provides solicitor advice to various ministries on Aboriginal law issues.
Responsibilities of the litigation section of the group include:
- Appearing on behalf of government in Provincial and Federal Courts on all Aboriginal law matters
- Providing research assistance and reports to all government ministries and Crown counsel regarding Aboriginal rights and title claims
Responsibilities of the solicitor section of the group include providing legal assistance to:
- Provincial teams negotiating treaties with Aboriginal groups
- Ministries about their legal obligations pursuant to court decisions, including:
- Ministries, senior officials and ministers by providing legal opinions on Aboriginal law
Examples of cases on which articled students have worked include:
The Finance, Commercial and Transportation Group negotiates, settles, drafts and finalizes documents concerning legal transactions and agreements, and provides solicitor advice to ministries. Lawyers in this group also provide legal advice to other Branch lawyers on intellectual property issues. Students working in this group have the opportunity to work on a variety of transactions, including financial, commercial, systems and government procurement.
The Health and Social Services Group advises on contracts, statutory interpretation, administrative law, intellectual property, privacy, trusts and family law. Students working with this group may have the opportunity to assist lawyers on such matters as:
- Wait time issues in the context of administering the Medical Services Plan
- The deaths of children in care
- Action against major tobacco companies over tobacco-related health care costs
- Cases under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction
The Justice and Education Law Group advises on education law, administrative law, and trade law, and provides legal advice to government regulators, including:
This group also advises Emergency Management BC and justice system partners such as:
The Resource, Environmental and Land Law Group advises ministries managing the environment, provincial fisheries, forests, mines and minerals, energy, and other natural resources. It also represents statutory decision makers in legal proceedings before administrative tribunals, including statutory appeals. Lawyers in this group work with ministry clients by advising them on land transactions and resource-related tenuring, and on issues arising from environmental and resource related legislation.
The Revenue and Taxation Group works largely in the areas of taxation and insolvency, providing solicitor advice and acting as counsel in litigation. The group also advises on local government issues, culture, escheats and charitable trusts. Students in this group will gain exposure to taxation and insolvency issues, from both a solicitor’s and a barrister’s perspective.
Office of the Assistant Deputy Attorney General
The Office of the Assistant Deputy Attorney General (ADAG) provides leadership, management and direction to LSB. The ADAG reports to the Deputy Attorney General, is a member of the ministry executive and is accountable for all legal services provided to the Government of British Columbia including civil matters, negotiating and drafting of agreements, representing government before courts and tribunals, and drafting legislation and regulations.
Lawyers in the ADAG’s office prepare opinions on constitutional and administrative law matters and advise the Premier, the Premier’s Office, cabinet, cabinet operations, and other government ministries and agencies. They also assist the ADAG with strategic planning and special projects.
Students participating in this rotation will carry a diverse workload and should approach the rotation with the flexibility to assist with a wide range of duties. Articled students participating in a rotation in the ADAG’s office may be involved in research and writing on a variety of legal and policy issues and may participate in meetings in relation to the functions of the ADAG’s office and its lawyers.
Office of Legislative Counsel
The Office of Legislative Counsel drafts all bills, regulations and Orders in Council for government.
Its other responsibilities include:
- Commenting on legislative proposals made by ministries and taking part in discussions with ministry officials and standing cabinet committees
- Ensuring policy is enacted in a format consistent with other British Columbia legislation and that cabinet directives about preparing government bills are respected
- Advising government on the content of bills, legislative procedure, the conduct of government business in the legislature, and statutory interpretation
A student on rotation with Legislative Counsel might be asked to:
- Draft an amendment to an act or a regulation
- Write or review an order in council
- Review and provide legislative counsel comments to cabinet on a request for legislation
- Provide an opinion on a matter of statutory interpretation or parliamentary procedure
- Research legislation of other jurisdictions
- Work on revision of an act or regulation
Students articling with LSB in Vancouver are slightly more limited in their choices of rotations than students in Victoria.
Solicitors at the Vancouver office provide advice and assistance to government ministries, programs and organizations based in the Lower Mainland.
The Vancouver Office also has lawyers practicing:
- Aboriginal law
- Civil litigation
- Resource, environmental and land law
- Justice and education law
- Constitutional and administrative law
The Vancouver office also houses the human rights law team, which provides advice and representation to ministries affected by human rights issues or subject to complaints before the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.
Private Bar Rotation
Students may spend up to four weeks working at a private law firm to give them exposure to areas of law that are not handled by the Ministry of Justice. During a private bar rotation the ministry pays the student’s salary and the student’s benefit coverage continues.