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A new center for women, the first of its kind in British Columbia, opened its doors to provide legal help for free or a reduced-cost.

“We are incredibly proud to announce that, today, the doors open to an historic new service in B.C.,” said a spokesperson for the charity responsible for setting up the service. “We couldn’t be more thrilled that BC women will now have greater access to legal assistance.“

The charity, West Coast LEAF, partnered with the law school at the University of British Columbia to open a full service storefront legal clinic on May 24 that will serve low income women.

Rise Women’s Legal Centre, at 456 West Broadway, near Cambie Street, will provide a full range of legal services with a focus in family law. It will be staffed by upper-year law students who are closely supervised by onsite attorneys. Services will include filing documents in court and representing clients in their hearings.

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“Legal aid for family law matters has been drastically cut back since 2002, so much so that only very low income people qualify, and even those who qualify only get services for high conflict cases,” according to West Coast LEAF, which is dedicated to promoting women’s equality through the law.

“A woman’s capacity to be independent often depends on her ability to resolve disputes over spousal support, child custody and property division – all issues that have a tremendous impact on women’s equality, and the safety of women and their families.”

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