EDRF Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently asked questions:
How can I find a lawyer?/Can I hire a West Coast Environmental Law lawyer?
The fund is to hire private lawyers at a legal aid rate of $80/hr. West Coast lawyers cannot be hired to work on EDRF files. If you need help finding a lawyer, West Coast staff are happy to assist.
What does the EDRF fund?
The EDRF is intended to be a source of support for the legal component of your public interest environmental campaign. We fund hourly fees of up to $80/hr, which is similar to a legal aid rate and well below the rates of most commercial lawyers. Unless the EDRF has granted special permission, expenses under a grant must be incurred by the lawyers or experts directly, as outlined in an approved budget.
What does the EDRF not fund?
We do not fund your clerical or administrative expenses. While we encourage community education and organizing, we do not fund the costs of this work. The Fund will not provide grants to pay for: (a) a private litigant's liability for an adverse cost award; (b) the purchase of land; or, (c) defense against contempt proceedings arising from civil disobedience.
Your materials talk about community organizing and campaigns. I thought I was just hiring a lawyer.
Our view is that legal work is most likely to have a long-term benefit for the environment if the broader community supports the decision and is vocal in that support. We want to fund community groups that are talking to and educating members of their community and using legal resources as a part of a broader public discussion. That process is community organizing, and the work to reach an environmental goal is a campaign. Not to worry if you don’t have experience with community organizing – we’re looking for folks who are interested in trying something new.
Who do we call if we have a question about the fund?
If you have a question about your legal work, call your lawyer. If you have questions about the administration of your grant, how to make a report, how to access your funds, how to apply for supplementary funds, or general questions about the progress of your case, call the EDRF Project Manager, Barb Everdene, or the EDRF Liaison Lawyer, Erica Stahl, at West Coast Environmental Law at 1-800-330-9235 or 604-684-7378.
What if our lawyer (or expert) will not work for $80/hour?
In some cases the lawyer/expert and applicant may agree to an additional hourly payment (which we call a “top-up”) by the client over and above this amount, but this must be no more than $80/hr (for a maximum rate of $160/hr), and disclosed as part of your application. The EDRF requires that the lawyers and experts it funds be working at a reduced rate out of recognition for the public interest nature of the dispute. Neither West Coast Environmental Law nor the Fund bear any responsibility for legal or other fees not covered by the grants made to applicants.
How to Apply
Granting decisions are made on a quarterly basis by a Management Committee. If you think your project fits within our granting guidelines, please refer to our website and call EDRF Liaison Lawyer Erica Stahl or EDRF Project Manager Barbara Everdene at West Coast Environmental Law to discuss your project. See the Applying to the EDRF page and the application forms for more information.
What is a Stage 2 Community Legal Action Grant?
The EDRF provides funding for legal support for groups taking strategic, community-wide action to address significant environmental challenges (we call this a “campaign”). We award a small number of larger “community legal action” grants to groups that are able to build a base of support, and where appropriate pursue legal work alongside other tools and strategies – political and market pressures, community organizing, education—to achieve a clear environmental objective. This Stage 2 Community Legal Action Grant is a grant of up to $12,000 to assist with the hourly fees and hard costs of a lawyer; an expert professional (where the expert’s work is a necessary complement to the legal work); or a mediator/facilitator (where all parties have agreed to alternative dispute resolution). We expect that in stage two, legal activities will focus on more complex or extended negotiations, court, or tribunal work.
What if a Stage 2 Grant will not cover all the costs of my campaign?
A Stage 2 grant is not intended to cover the full cost of the legal work for your campaign. Most likely, you will need to commit to a broader fundraising effort to cover the full cost. Your application should clearly outline your fundraising plan, and list your expected sources of funding. Stage 2 applicants must raise a minimum of 30% of your budget, even when the grant will cover your anticipated legal costs. We call this a “client contribution” and ask you to pay this as a percentage of each of your lawyer or expert’s invoices.
What if I haven’t received a Stage 1 Grant from the EDRF?
If you have not received a Stage 1 grant from us, you are still welcome to apply for a Stage 2 Grant. We will need to collect some additional information on your organization and your issue.