Make Lawyers Work For Free
Victoria, BC lawyer argues that lawyers should be taking on more mandatory pro bono cases to help the access to justice problem plaguing the BC justice system as they face severe backlog. Many people going through the legal system can’t afford lawyers for their cases. Legal aid funding is insufficient to help all those who are in need of legal services. The result? The majority of people choose to represent themselves.
"Self-represented people have absolutely no skills to be in front of a court. They're struggling. The courts are clogged with self-represented litigants and the person would be better off with any lawyer representing them." - McCullough, Lawyer
The BC lawyer believes that increasing the mandatory pro bono cases lawyers must do in a year will benefit the justice system by providing constituents with competent advice, direction, and clearing up the backlog of cases in court. His proposal doesn’t resonate well with another BC lawyer who has pointed out that making all lawyers take on cases with self-reps is a bad idea. The majority of these cases are either family, criminal, or immigration cases and the assigned lawyer may not have the appropriate expertise to expedite the case and represent their clients well.
"They would be terrified to take on this type of case because the stakes are so high for the people involved," Mahon told On The Coast host Gloria Macarenko. "You might lose your child, you might go to jail or you might be deported from Canada."
The obvious solution for her is for the province to better fund legal aid, “not force lawyers to take on work outside their wheelhouse.” However, McCullough argues that many of these cases are straightforward and that any lawyer would be better than self-representing without a lawyer.
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McCullough's motion for mandatory pro bono work will be voted on by the members of the Law Society of B.C. at its annual general meeting Oct. 30.