Lawyers don’t deserve cartoon
This letter originally appeared in the March 20, 2002 edition of the Times-Colonist. It is reprinted with the permission of Mr. Justice John C. Bouck.
Adrian Raeside’s cartoons often are a great source of humour. However, in the March 10 edition of your newspaper he ridicules lawyers by portraying them as greedy. The cartoon suggests lawyers are overjoyed at the prospect of further litigation between the aboriginal community and the government because they will earn more money. Lawyers deserve better.
Citizens seek out lawyers when they cannot settle their differences. When they come to lawyers for advice, lawyers do their best to find a mutually agreeable resolution of the dispute.
Around 95 per cent of civil cases filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia never come to trial. Much of this occurs because the litigants arrive at a reasonable compromise with the assistance of their lawyers.
Without lawyers, our society could easily revert to anarchy. We would soon have rule by the whim of an individual rather than rule by the application of law.
At little or no charge, the vast majority of lawyers help many poorer citizens who cannot afford the lawyer’s normal fees. They do not broadcast these contributions because they are professionals. To make our province a better place, many lawyers voluntarily participate in community and professional organizations.
There is at least one area where the public can fairly complain about lawyers and judges. It is the cost and delay to litigants that is associated with court proceedings.
Laws governing court proceedings in civil and criminal cases are hopelessly out of date.
The BC Supreme Court Rules are based on the English civil rules of 1883. The BC Supreme Court probably ranks in the bottom one-third of progressive courts when it comes to processing civil case loads in a timely and efficient manner.
Representations made by BC lawyers and judges to federal and provincial governments asking them to enact much needed procedural reforms fall on deaf ears.
Lawyers and judges then throw up their hands in despair and walk away. We should be more persistent.
Of course the media should criticize lawyers and the judiciary when we fail to follow the laws passed by the legislature and Parliament. Lawyers and judges do not pretend to be perfect. However, a blanket condemnation of lawyers by means of cartoons or “lawyer jokes” is both unfair and unproductive.
The Honourable Mr. Justice John C. Bouck
The Supreme Court of BC, Victoria
The following letter was sent to both Mr. Justice John C. Bouck and to BarTalk
Just a quick note to say thank you on behalf of myself and as Provincial Council representative for Victoria County on the BC Branch of the Canadian Bar Association regarding your letter to the editor published in the Wednesday, March 20, 2002 edition of the Times-Colonist. While I do not mind the occasional lawyer joke, it is hard not to feel that the profession is somewhat under siege of late and I am particularly heartened when a member of the Judiciary is prepared to step forward and defend lawyers as you did in you letter. Thanks again.
Re: BarTalk Vol. 14/No. 2 “Enduring Powers of Attorney Remain”
One of the lead articles is on the Enduring Powers of Attorney Report by Professor McClean and its acceptance by the Attorney General. Congratulations are indeed in order to the association and its“sub-bodies”who have worked very hard to achieve this appropriate result. I am aware of the kind of time, effort and commitment this lobbying process requires, and it amounts to a significant donation “to the cause.”
The one note of concern I would sound is that the article seemed to me to imply (by omission) that the result was solely due to the efforts of the association, which is clearly not the case. I must disclose an interest here as I did make a brief submission to Professor McClean. I was not alone in doing so, and appendix B to the report does list the contributors, amongst which are several lawyers. It would have been more fair, I think, to acknowledge that others also participated in the process, although naming names would not have been necessary.
Francis S.M. Barnett
Gillespie Renkema Barnett Broadway
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This article was published in the June 2002 issue of BarTalk. © 2002 The Canadian Bar Association. All rights reserved.