This month I would like to discuss cynicism and the law. Ask anyone and it is quite probable that you will find them suspicious of lawyers, that they consider them a necessary evil, maybe more ominous than the dentist but in the old days people died from cavities.
The most innocuous would probably be real estate lawyers, generally having a pleasant association with buying and selling properties. The corporate lawyer mysterious but boring many of us not appreciated or interested in the intricacies of corporate law. The highest degree of skepticism I would propose is reserved in equal shares for personal injury lawyers, criminal lawyers, matrimonial lawyers and civil litigators.
The public has no difficulty calling personal injury lawyers ambulance chasers and is largely brainwashed by the insurance industry to believe that they should be suspicious of claimants and that fraudulent claims are the reason that insurance costs so much. At the same time the public ironically holds steadfast to a belief that their insurer will look after them if they have a claim.
Matrimonial lawyers and civil litigators are notorious for having their fees exceed what is in dispute between the parties. It is commonly said after these disputes that the lawyers were the only winners. In fairness this is not the fault of the lawyers as they must navigate their client’s through a legal system that is essentially broken riddled with inherent delay and cumbersome procedures frequently taking years for even a preliminary adjudication.
Criminal lawyers have the difficult task of trying to portray unsavory and often sociopathic client’s in a favorable and forgiving light. Reading articles this week one counsel was suggesting that a compensation order against his client a “financial advisor”who had defrauded many of her “friends” of their retirement savings to reflect the fact the institutions she had defrauded were partially responsible for not detecting the fraud.
Despite these negative perceptions on the positive side many many lawyers are cognizant of the systemic barriers to justice and are pro-active advocating for changes to the Rules of Civil Procedure and legislative changes. Further there are many initiatives in the direction of alternative dispute resolution which are being embraced and welcomed by lawyers who recognize that the interests of their clients are being irreparably harmed by delay. On the criminal side of things the creation of a Gladue court in Brantford is very admirable.
Despite public perception lawyers are needed and many are working tirelessly as advocates, politicians and in a community advisory capacity to improve public and professional images, serve their clients and find creative ways to deal with institutional delay.
Lisa Morell Kelly
Morell Kelly Personal Injury Law
515 Park Road North
Brantford, Ontario N3R 7K8 (519) 720-0110