Now that you learned about some potential issues with helping clients with forms, where do you go from here? When it comes to dealing with forms, CPLEA suggests the following road map for thinking through the issues:
1) Determine the nature of the form
- What type of form is your client dealing with? Are they forms for receiving benefits? Or court or legal forms?
- Is this a form you can accurately and competently translate, interpret and/or assist the client with?
- Is the client able to tell their own story?
2) Talk to your supervisor
- Is there an organization policy or practice for filling out forms?
- What do other employees do when clients ask them to fill out forms?
3) Do not fill out a form that may end up before a decision maker in a judicial setting (court, tribunal, commission, quasi-judicial tribunal)
- There are exceptions where this best practice doesn’t make much sense. For example, if your organization is a legal clinic or legal aid and provides legal services for people—filling out forms is part of what you do, then this best practice doesn’t apply to you!
4) If in doubt, refer client to other service providers, for example:
- Legal clinics
- Legal aid
- Duty counsel at the courts
- Private lawyer (you can find one with the help of the Law Society of Alberta’s Lawyer Referral Service)