accountability of lawyers
The Family Justice Review Committee,
through its joint efforts with Community Certified Lawyer Referral
Service, is a major effort by citizens in their communities to to
strengthen consumer protections that apply to lawyers and the attorney
discipline system. The basic principles upon which this service is
ordinary citizens, not lawyers, should run the disciplinary process.
The way the law societies are set up now, it is like putting the fox
in charge of the chicken coop. Under the Family Justice Review
Committee, a committee of citizens of good standing in the community
deal with complaints from the public concerning lawyers in their own
community. If a jury made up of people who are not lawyers is
good enough to decide a murder case or a million dollar lawsuit,
it's certainly capable of determining whether a lawyer has cheated a
client or is acting with the highest of ethics and accountability.
discipline should be conducted in the open. There have
been instances where the Law Societies have clearly failed in their
duty to protect consumers and have not been accountable for the
process in which they conduct their investigations of lawyers.
Unlike the Law Society, where investigations are done behind closed
doors, the Family Justice Review Committee conducts its hearings in
an open forum. The Committee is also working to make these
proceedings accessible to the public and the press when being dealt
with by the various law societies as well -- just like the courts
all the rest of us use.
ethical and professional conduct should be straightforward and
enforceable. Every citizen in a community should be able to
understand their lawyer's ethical obligations and know what to do if
their lawyer abuses their trust.
profession has a duty to compensate consumers who are victimized by
those lawyers within the profession who have acted in an
unscrupulous manner. The Family Justice Review Committee
wants to increase monies set aside to compensate victims and to
streamline the process by which victims can get their money back
without having to spend more money going back to court.
are not above the law and must follow the law like everyone else.
The Family Justice Review Committee will be pushing to expand
protection to consumers across the country so that lawyers will be
held accountable just like every other profession.
Based on complaints from members of the
public it would appear that the overall performance the Law Society
shows that it has failed to protect consumers from lawyer misconduct and
that members of the public must take a more active role in ensuring that
citizens in the community do not fall prey to unethical legal practices.