Legal Aid New Brunswick (LANB) was officially established as the province’s Legal Aid Plan in 1971 with a mandate to provide certain criminal and civil legal services to low-income individuals. To ensure the impartial administration of justice, the New Brunswick Law Society, the independent, self-regulatory body of the legal profession, assumed responsibility for administering the Plan. A judicature delivery model was employed, whereby Area Directors hired private lawyers on a case-by-case basis, as prescribed by the Legal Aid Act.
On April 1, 2001, civil legal aid was expanded to incorporate the Domestic Legal Aid (DLA) program which was transferred from the Department of Justice. Services were delivered largely by a staff of Family Solicitors who drew on private bar support if needed, such as in cases of conflict of interest. DLA introduced the mixed model of staff and private counsel service delivery to LANB.
In 2003, the federal Department of Justice committed to a three-year Legal Aid Service Renewal Strategy to address justice efficiencies and access to justice. An Investment Fund was established to stimulate innovation in legal aid. The staffed component of legal aid service was expanded beyond family counsel to include staff criminal defence counsel.
On December 12, 2005, An Act to Amend the Legal Aid Act was proclaimed to establish the New Brunswick Legal Aid Services Commission (NBLASC), charged to continue the mandate to deliver criminal defence and family legal counsel to citizens of the province who otherwise could not access it.
In 2009-2010, intake services for family legal aid were expanded when eligibility screening for services formerly captured under the Domestic Legal Aid program was transferred to the Commission from the Department of Justice and Consumer Affairs. Eligibility for these services is no longer restricted to victims of domestic violence. The streamlined intake process also improved consistency in applications.
On July 1, 2012, the Office of the Public Trustee transferred from the Department of Justice and Attorney General to the NBLASC. The Public Trustee of New Brunswick operates under provincial law, to protect the interests, both financial and personal, of elderly people, persons with disabilities, children, missing persons, and deceased persons, when there is no one else able and willing to do so.
On April 15, 2017, NBLASC implemented new financial eligibility criteria for Criminal Law and Family Law certificate services. Financial eligibility is now determined using an Income Grid defining income brackets per household size.
On May 1, 2018, the Intimate Partner Violence Intervention Act was proclaimed to provide victims of intimate partner violence additional tools to increase their safety while seeking more permanent solutions. Family Duty Counsel and Family Legal Aid services were expanded to provide services under the new act, as well as services under the Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interest of Rights Act.
In 2020-2021 Family Law Services were expanded to include services under the Divorce Act.