Many people are well aware that family law litigation can be prolonged, exhausting, and costly, to say the least. These are motivating factors for litigants to settle their issues in a prompt manner. It is no surprise then that legal procedures are geared toward quick resolutions, as this normally benefits the parties involved.
"It is accepted, even by those who work within it, that Ontario’s family law system is utterly broken", writes Christie Blatchford in an article entitled, "Getting to the root of Ontario’s family law mess".
Agreed. I think you would be hard pressed finding anyone to disagree.
The vicious child custody battles and their shocking legal fees, and the endless losing battles against a former spouse who is seemingly impervious to reason are stories well known to everyone who works in the system. What is also shocking and frustrating, though, is that the blame for this is laid at the feet of lawyers, most of whom are not seeking to profit from the misery of others.
For those of you who don’t know, the Law Practice Program (LPP) is created by the Law Society in partnership with Ryerson University and the University of Ottawa that offer curriculum in English and French, respectively. It is designed to provide a licensing pathway to becoming a lawyer without having to article. This program is a pilot project that started in 2014, and was scheduled to run for three years before the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) evaluated the success of the program.
Are lawyers suffering from an identity crisis? Is it an occupational hazard that our training has made us good at our jobs, but bad at life? In many instances, we are legally and ethically compelled to subvert our personal interests and identities in favour of our professional interests and obligations. As lawyers we are typically pessimistic, risk-averse, adversarial, argumentative, confrontational, overly opinionated, critical, over-achieving, “type-A” and blame-avoidant on our clients’ behalf. Admit nothing. Say nothing. Give nothing. Defend, defend, defend. Attack, parry, thrust. Are our personal identities slightly subverted to these interests or have they been completely eradicated?
When did we learn that there is only black and white? When did we forget that shades of grey exist? Somewhere along the way between law school and the law firm we forget that law needs to be applied and it’s not just something theoretical that only we as lawyers need to understand.