Unique Training from LAA on Effective Representation of Children in High Conflict Cases

As part of Legal Aid Alberta’s (LAA) commitment to share its in-house expertise with the legal community, the organization recently held a very unique training session for Alberta lawyers.

“Effectively representing children always poses unique challenges for lawyers,” explains Andrea Doyle, who is Assistant Senior Counsel with LAA and one of the team who presented at the session. “In high conflict matters those challenge become even more acute, so we were very happy to be able to share some of the techniques and tactics lawyers can use to effectively manage these cases and ensure the best possible outcome for the children we represent.”

The training was held at the Edmonton office of Legal Aid Alberta and was attended by over 55 lawyers.

“We are very fortunate to have remarkable expertise in our organization,” said Tyler Tollefson, LAA Vice President, Legal Representation and Advice, “and I am grateful to Andrea and others who shared their knowledge with the broader legal community. Our entire organization is also very thankful that judges and other experts took time out of their schedules to contribute to this training.” LAA was honoured to host presenters for this session that included Assistant Chief Judge The Honourable K.A. Holmstrom and The Honourable Madam Justice Donna L. Shelley. Other experts also brought significant insights to the proceedings and included Dr. Jim Bateman, Sharon Smith, Perlitte Torres, Denise Harwardt, as well as LAA experts Jeff Keller, Zelma Hardin and Christina Riddoch.

The session went into significant detail on topics including how to effectively and appropriately interview children, disclosure applications under Child Welfare S. 126.11, presenting evidence on behalf of your child client, and what judges are looking for from lawyers in these cases.

LAA has hosted learning opportunities for the legal community in the past, notably including Indigenous Cultural Sensitivity training, and Effective Preparation and Use of Gladue Reports, and Mr. Tollefson says the organization is planning more in the future. “Part of our responsibility as a centre of legal excellence in Alberta is to share that expertise with the broader community, and we are in a unique position that enables us to effectively do that so expanding this work will is a focus for me and the lawyers here at LAA.”

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