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Why aren't lawyers trusted?
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Lawyers & Judges are supposed to serve the law

Masters or Servants of the Law?

March 18, 2009

Editorial
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Why are lawyers below bankers and financiers in popular opinion polls of trustworthiness?

Clearly, it is because lawyers have forgotten that they are governed, not by the years it has taken them to master the capacity to abuse the process, but by the 'Rule of Law'.

The 'Rule of Law' is what the Right Honourable Lord Bingham of Cornwall, defined in a speech in 2006 when he said,

All persons and authorities within the state, whether public or private, should be bound by, and entitled to, the benefit of laws publicly and prospectively promulgated and publicly administered.

As Lord Bingham indicates, referring to the rule of law, it is “a principle of such manifest and fundamental importance as to animate not only our professional lives, but our lives as members of our respective societies.”

The rules that are supposed to govern the Professional Conduct of lawyers recognize the need to bow to the rule of law through rhetoric like:

The admission to and continuance in the practice of law implies on the part of a lawyer a basic commitment to the concept of equal justice for all within an open, ordered, and impartial system.

Lawyers have a professional responsibility to support and to stand up for these principles, and those who do not, do not belong in the legal profession.

If lawyers were currently meeting the obligation to be subservient to the rule of law, the effort to win at all cost would be replaced by a thorough, comprehensive and objective evaluation of the facts. Instead, lawyering has become a tactical war to control or to adjust embarrassing truths, and that is not what the rule of law is all about.

So what is the solution to the fact that lawyers have the reputation they deserve? The solution is, in order to satisfy their profesional obligation, lawyers have to stop acting like they have the right to protect their clients intersts through nonsensical advocacy.

According to The Law Society Rules of Professional Conduct, as stated by Rule 4.01(2) “When acting as an advocate, a lawyer shall not knowingly assist or permit the client to do anything that the lawyer considers to be dishonest or dishonourable.”

Lawyers have the duty and the responsibility to place the truth above the interests of their clients, and when they begin to act like they understand this simple fact, they will be trustworthy.

Food for thought:

* When we restrict access to justice, we abandon the principle behind the often cited aphorism of Lord Hewart, who said "that justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done."

*The principle of open justice is incompatible with a legal system that is neither accessible nor comprehensibe to the vast majority.

*We have juries because ordinary people have the ability to deliberate to the point of good judgment.

*Justice is miscarried by the delusion that intelligence is the only virtue. In fact, the process of misleading a court can lead to a bad judgment and this deception should never be tolerated.

*Good judgment involves reasonable assessment through careful deliberation, and if done properly in a manner that is fair, reasonable, explainable and sustainable, there is little room for error.

*Fair-minded people can reasonably apprehend bias and if the facts indicate that a judge has pre-judged a case, he or she is too incompetent to affect the judicial process.

*Governments, corporations and special interest groups who use lawyers to control outcome through obstructing procedure should be denied the opportunity to restrict access to justice.

*Impartiality is the supreme judicial virtue and judges undertake to act without fear, favour, affection or ill will.
 


 

 

 
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