'Blind' justice eyeing the money
the legal profession has always intrigued me. It shares two characteristics with the medical profession: a fiduciary relation with the lay public and a vast information asymmetry between itself and the very public.
The latter characteristic confers a near monopolistic advantage to that profession in terms of the fees demanded for legal services and serves to render its function in a "market" environment almost "perfectly" imperfect. Hence the heavy emphasis on the role of professional ethics and morality without which its fiduciary underpinnings would quickly evaporate.
Lady Justice has always been depicted as "blind"! But is she really?
When an attorney accepts a brief, his client expects that he/she would serve him fearlessly, zealously and with meticulous professional attentiveness.
In order to achieve this end a man treats his attorney like a proverbial confessor. A client reposes immense confidence in the attorney he retains and expects a vigorous adversarial presentation of his cause.
When such a client then appears in court and sees that the attorney retained by his adversary is one who works closely with his own attorney for another client they have in common, can you imagine the corrosive effect that realisation might have on the confidence of the client? Would it not be absolutely devastating if the lawyer skips off, abandons him and accepts the brief of his adversary and begins to wage legal war against him instead?
We have been indoctrinated to abide by the "rule of law". Should it not be part of that rule that a client be told when his attorney's vigor might be dulled by a conflict of interest? Has any attorney ever been chastised, or have had his professional privilege revoked because of a failure to adhere to their code of ethics?
The recent scenario of two senior attorneys seemingly doing a "crossing of the floor" act on their erstwhile client has diminished significantly my impression of the strength of the professional ethic that ought to be the bedrock of that profession. It tells me that Madam Justice is not only blind, but she uses the unveiled eye to look at the money! Hence, an equal partner in dousing the fire of ethical fervour is the hand that offers the money. I ask: is the Attorney General exhibiting a mature ethic by wooing his colleagues from the bosom of his adversary to his side?
Why don't we take a deep long look at the faces of our one- or two-year-old child or grandchild in their innocence, and ask whether the fruit of our action, secret or overt, would leave him or her to live in a better and kinder T&T when we are gone.