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Inventory of Reforms

Manitoba Law Phone-In Program and Lawyer Referral Program


Program providing general legal information (not advice), as well as referrals, over the phone in response to legal enquiries in Manitoba.

Permanent Implementation


Body Responsible:
Community Legal Education Association (Manitoba) Inc.

July 1975: Law Phone-In established

Community Legal Education Association (Manitoba) 2007/2008 annual report
Community Legal Education Association (Manitoba) 2010/2011 annual report
Law Phone-In and Lawyer Referral Program
Avrim D. Lazar, Law phone-in: an evaluation report (June 21, 1978).
Mary Troszko, Law phone-in and lawyer referral program year end report (1993).

Law Phone-In was established in July 1975 as a 3-year experimental project funded by the Federal Department of Justice until March 1978. It is currently funded by the Law Society of Manitoba and The Manitoba Law Foundation, and operated by Community Legal Education Association (Manitoba) Inc.

Law Phone-In was established to meet a need for summary legal information and referrals, and to increase the accessibility of legal information.

Description of Reforms:
Serving Manitobans as well as callers from around the world since 1975, CLEA’s Law Phone-In & Lawyer Referral Program is an essential service, providing free legal information over the telephone to anyone who needs help. Many clients rely on the service as their emergency first-response team during a legal crisis. As a unified information and referral service, our program staff assesses callers’ needs, provides information and makes referrals to lawyers and law-related agencies where appropriate.

In 2010, the Program handled 6,885 calls. 59% of the callers were female, 74% originated from Winnipeg. Calls from outside Winnipeg came from 212 communities all around Manitoba. 244 came from other provinces and territories, 30 from 14 states in the United States and 43 came from around the world, many of them via email: Africa, Bermuda, China, El Salvador, Ghana, India, Italy, Jamaica, Kuwait, Mexico, Morocco, The Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Turkey, The United Kingdom, and United Arab Emirates. The legal issues in these international calls tended to be in the areas of Family Law, Wills and Estates and Immigration matters. Some of these callers were looking for a lawyer in Manitoba for a matter taking place in Manitoba.
In addition to telephone calls, the Program received 738 e-mails, 49 faxes, and 80 walk-in clients (even though we do not have the facilities to handle walk-in requests). Of completed calls, 38.9% of the calls were concerning Family Law, including divorce, separation, custody, access, grandparent access, adoption, guardianship, child support, spousal support, and various property issues. Also in this area of law, we received questions about domestic violence and protection orders. 12.1% of the calls were regarding Civil Law issues (including Small Claims Court). 10.6% of the calls dealt with Criminal Law (including Youth Law), 8.6% with Wills and Estates, and 5.3% were about Employment Law. The list at right shows the breakdown of calls by topic.

1,095 calls resulted in referrals to one of the 129 lawyers listed with the Lawyer Referral Service. Lawyers enrolled in the service have agreed to provide a free initial half-hour consultation to clients referred to them.

In 2010, our records indicate that we received referrals from 156 different sources: various individual contacts, lawyers and law firms, MLA’s and MP’s, community agencies, government departments, organizations, businesses, and as a result of being listed in various publications.

From Community Legal Education Association (Manitoba) 2010/2011 annual report

Revision History:
This summary was last reviewed in Aug 07, 2012