There is a new book in Canada called Lawyers Gone Bad which is causing a controversy within the law talking trade:
Lawyers Gone Bad features the story of about 20 disgraced lawyers who faced disciplinary action for offences ranging from overbilling to sexual offences against children, to hiring thugs to beat up clients. In the past week, the Canadian Bar Association's head office received upwards of 200 fuming emails and phone calls and the regional offices have also been inundated with irate solicitors baying for both Maclean's and Slayton's blood. He's been the subject of choice at law firm water coolers across the country, and the featured hot topic on the city's legal blogs. Since Monday, the Canadian Bar Association, the Law Society of Upper Canada and the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association have each issued scathing statements condemning Slayton's book and the magazine article – particularly the cover, which boasted five would-be lawyers labelled "I sleep with my clients," "I take bribes" and "Justice? Ha!"Lawyers get particularly prickly about these kinds of things but this author is a former dean of law school and former a senior practitioner on Bay Street in Toronto. Here is my take:
- Law is very funny (not ha-ha) stuff. Unless you are rich and seeking preventative guidance, for most people being involved with law and lawyers means you have to spend masses of money to get you out of the greatest crises of your life. Of course you will be unhappy.
- Practicing law is often no fun. Most lawyers earn a middle class living and deal with unhappy people going through the greatest crises of their lives. Many times you will not fix the problem so much as guide to a best resolution. People want you to fix the problem - get the charges dropped, make the deadbeat like he was when you met him, make it like it was before the accident. Can't do it. Lawyers often think they can do more than they can actually do.
- I have been exposed to an inordinate number of lawyers under discipline caused by things from recourse to alcohol to congenital thievery to simple ignorance. The system does not weed these people out as aggressively as people might wish. They hurt peoples lives.