Sign up for our newsletter!
Receive a $25 COUPON
Company News: Blog
18 May 2013
When people ask me how I like being a lawyer my usual retort is "Well, it beats working for a living" and truly I like most of what I do as a lawyer, so it really doesn't feel like work. Nevertheless I was a bit surprised by the recent article in Canadian Business Magazine quoting Canada's top...
Whither Geoff Cowper?
|Written by Chris Green|
|Sunday, 15 April 2012 14:01|
When the Attorney General - er sorry, the Minister of Justice (wonder how much that name change cost us taxpayers for no discernible benefit?), announced the appointment of Geoff Cowper to quickly review and prepare a report on needed reforms to the justice system, we were extremely pleased. Lord knows the system needs an overhaul, and Geoff Cowper is a universally respected senior lawyer.
Since then, however, the silence has been deafening, and we have to ask ourselves: exactly who is Mr. Cowper consulting with? And where is he going to find his facts? As far as I’m aware, there has been no general invitation to the legal profession at large to provide its comments, and no forum has been established for transmitting our ideas. His report is due to be tabled in June and yet there has been no coverage discussion or analysis in either the public or the legal press.
I’m sure that consultations are ongoing, but my fear is that those being consulted are part of the “old boys’ network”, the large national and international firms that practice in the downtown core, serving mainly a corporate clientele, or possibly other elites, such as the benchers of the Law Society.
That’s not to suggest good ideas can’t emanate from those sources, but honestly, what can a high-priced litigator in a 500 lawyer firm know about the challenges of a single practitioner practicing in a town that doesn’t even have a courthouse?
For example, our present system requires the personal attendance of a lawyer at the courthouse for even the most mundane matters. Not a big deal if the courthouse is a three-minute stroll from your downtown office, but it’s a half or full day away from the office for many of us. Since the lawyer’s only salable inventory is his or her time, being away from the office translates into an unfortunately large bill to the client, for something that might easily have been accomplished via telephone or video conference.
The flaws in the system that make the headlines tend to be the lurid cases of the child molesters, who walk because of trial delays and so forth, but to the Main Street practitioner, the malaise we see every day are things such as families left in limbo for month upon month, awaiting the issuance of probate documents from a hollowed out court registry.
We are discouraged that Mr. Cowper may never learn of the shortcomings of the system as seen through the eyes of small-town or remote practitioners. But then again, perhaps he shouldn’t be consulting with lawyers at all; perhaps he should be talking to business process engineers to find some radical insights into how to really reform the system.