Canadian lawyers must no longer investigate themselves and their friends.
Independent investigations of lawyer misconduct should be the standard.
It is no longer acceptable that the Canadian legal profession, that exerts vast influence and authority into every area of life, continues to self-regulate without transparency, independent civilian oversight and external accountability.
The powerful Canadian legal profession must be brought into compliance with modern standards of independent oversight and external accountability.
Are lawyers more honest than police officers… or are they also vulnerable to temptations and pressures?
For good reason, we don’t allow our police to operate without external oversight and accountability. The stories of police abuse, corruption and incompetence are legion – and in the last few years became a deluge as incidents are regularly documented with solid video and/or audio evidence from mobile phones, security and dashboard cameras.
Ontario and many other jurisdictions formed civilian investigative units to independently investigate serious police wrongdoing and to lay charges where appropriate.
And still, we have trouble holding the police accountable.
Unlike police officers, lawyers do not generally commit crimes in the street while surrounded by surveillance cameras and citizens wielding mobile phones.
Lawyer misconduct is often done in backrooms with a signature, a few words – or a wink and a nod that betray a small client in favour of a larger big-spending long-term corporate client.
The law societies across Canada are simply a group of friends investigating and ‘disciplining’ the same people they went to school with, socialize with and meet in the workplace and in court. That works out exactly as you think it would and it is never about the public trust no matter how many times the law society executives say the words.
The Law Society of Ontario covered up and whitewashed hundreds of crimes by lawyers who committed criminal offences against their clients – according to the Toronto Star’s Broken Trust investigation. I can’t think of why it would be different in any other province.
Canadians must demand laws that will force upon the legal profession real transparency, independent civilian oversight and external accountability to Canadians at large. Self-regulation of lawyers must end.