Friday, 10 August 2012

Lawyers - Have we neglected our purpose?

Presently, I am doing a summer placement with a firm in Glasgow and I took the opportunity to accompany the senior trainee to court this morning for some procedural hearings. Upon her case being called, a nervous but gutsy woman stood tall and walked to the desk. With a clear but shakey voice  she asked for a continuation on the basis that she could not find legal representation because her case was not worthy of legal aid and she could not afford to appoint a solicitor herself. She had approached 8 different firms that had all turned her down.

Although aware that the firms themselves cannot be blamed for this injustice, we have to question our ability, as ambassadors of the law, if we are doing the right thing by only protecting the insanely rich or those that are set to make an insane claim. My opinion is clear: law is a mechanism whereby we assert a certain standard of behaviour across our country. When that behaviour is not adhered to, there is, more likely than not, an injustice. As ambassadors, our job is to make right that injustice no matter how small or big the case is or how rich or poor the person is. The Sheriff somewhat remorsefully advised the woman that if she could not find representation by the next court date that she would have to represent herself. If she wants to see her injustice put right; she has no choice in the matter. Where is the justice in that? This will clearly have some sort of detrimental impact on her chances of being successful.

I know very little of her circumstances and it may very well be that her claim is vexatious but from what I heard the message was evident and disturbing. An injured person can walk into hospital and expect to be treated. No matter if that person is a terrorist/murderer/rapist/child/mother/ned or otherwise. Likewise, a person wronged should be able to walk into court with legal representation. Doctors can do their jobs – why can’t we?

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