I am writing this in response to Prof. Noel Semple tweet “Law has many purposes but creating jobs for lawyers is not among them”. This was followed by Robert Harvie’s response,”or Law Professors for that matter : ) “. I found myself stopping to reflect on this exchange. While I am in agreement with Prof. Semple and Mr.Harvie, my perceptions about the legal profession has changed significantly since becoming a lawyer.
Before becoming a litigant, I thought the justice system’s primary goal was to serve the public. After having been in a lawsuit, like most litigants, I was somewhat frustrated by the system. I admit that I developed a highly cynical view of both the system and the legal profession. I can see why the legal profession appears elitist to a lay litigant, and why it appears that the legal process is purposely developed to confuse the lay person. I thought that all lawyers care about is their bottom line. Indeed, they mostly do appear to only see the law as a means to their own career aspirations.
After becoming a lawyer and co-founder of the Self-Rep Navigators, my views have changed somewhat. Becoming a lawyer myself has opened my eyes up to the challenges that come with the profession. I can understand why lawyers want to be compensated well for the work they do. What’s more interesting though, is that I personally met and gotten to know some lawyers who are truly committed and dedicated to the public good. There are lawyers in the Ministry who sincerely care about making the justice system work better for litigants. There are lawyers who offer unbundled services, who are passionate about the injustice of forcing full retainers on litigants, as this effectively blocks their accessibility to the justice system. I’ve also met lawyers who offer pro bono or low bono services because they truly want to serve the public. For these lawyers, I have no doubt that they do understand that what the law’s true purpose is.
I hope to bring together that special group of lawyers in the Self-Rep Navigators: lawyers who understand the true purpose of law, who recognize that providing unbundled services is the means to the ultimate goal of access to justice.