Mobile legal clinics coming to rural Wellington

January 22, 2019

The Legal Clinic of Guelph and Wellington County is launching a pilot project to bring popup legal clinics to 11 rural communities in Wellington. 

The project is called the Wellington County Mobile Legal Service, or WellCoMs. It's targeting low-income residents who face barriers getting access to free legal advice.

"You'll be able to see they're operating in our towns, that's important because a lot of people don't even know that the service exists," said Kelly Linton, the mayor for Centre Wellington township. 

At the popup stations, which is essentially a van and tent set up at various parking lots, residents will have access to outreach workers who can answer their questions.

If residents need legal advice, consultations can then be arranged with a clinic lawyer through a video call. 

"We'll serve coffee and cookies, and basically be very low-barrier and inviting," said Anthea Millikin, the clinic's executive director. 

"So that people can come up and just say, oh this is interesting, what are you all about and we can start a conversation and from that conversation, uncover the everyday legal issues," she said. 

Transportation a big barrier 

Millikin said "transportation is a huge issue" for people who live in rural areas. 

"One of the challenges we have as a community is that we're spread out," said Linton, speaking of Centre Wellington. "It's really difficult for people to move around unless you have a vehicle." 

Allan Alls, the mayor of Erin, agrees. 

"It's a huge issue, there's no doubt about it. We don't even have transfer GO buses or anything here. We're not a community that's large enough to support it," Alls said. 

"The whole idea here is to bring the service out to the community," Millikin said.

"There are significant distances so this is just another way of reaching people and reaching people 'upstream' — before the crisis happens," she said.

Read more: Mobile legal clinics coming to rural Wellington