Letters to the Editor
This letter was originally sent to the Globe & Mail and is reprinted with the permission of V. Victoria Shroff.
Re: Gentleman Lawyers
Dear Messrs. Beck and Gray:
I read the piece by Mr. Gray called “The Last of the Gentleman Lawyers” in the July 2, 2002 Review section and make the following observations:
Being a regular reader of Gray and having actually paid money to see him in ‘Billy Bishop’ years ago, I have come to expect some wit, originality and insight from Gray. So, the title of the article notwithstanding, I read it.
The piece was not wholly without merit. I liked reading about Gray’s affection for his legal counsel. Indeed Mr. G.C. Miller sounded like a gent. The rest of the piece however, was insulting to those of us in the legal profession. I suggest you do some research on the number of good things lawyers do and you would not at all be surprised that the vast majority of lawyers do act or seek to act in the best interest of their clients. Clients themselves can be a demanding and unreasonable crowd. You should take a peek at the ethics handbooks and perhaps then you would understand that we as lawyers take our oaths and professional commitments very seriously. This image about fleecing a hapless blighter of their last dime is erroneous and misguided. It is not uncommon for lawyers to volunteer their services, lower their hourly rates, and do charity work.
From a young age I learned about the profession and business of law as my father is a gentleman lawyer. It was not unusual that he would voluntarily reduce his bills after a long trial. Not because the client asked, but because he is a person of fairness and integrity and felt it was a good thing to do.
Some think it is okay to continue to propagate ill-conceived lawyer myths in the form of bad jokes, but this is based on Hollywood formula thinking. To put it to you in Hollywood terms, there are a great many more Atticus type lawyers out there, just open your eyes.
V. Victoria Shroff, barrister and solicitor
P.S. I would suggest you check the statistics on what profession does more volunteer work. Lawyers are known to be generous with their time. Contact the Canadian Bar Association if you want some figures. They can likely provide you stats on Lawyer Refereral, Dial-A- Law, Law Day, just to name a few.
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This letter was published in the October 2002 issue of BarTalk.