Community Certified Lawyer Referral Program

 

The 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 based:

  • That 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.

  • Attorney 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.

  • Rules of 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.

  • The legal 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.

  • Lawyers 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.