In Search of the Ethical Lawyer: Stories from the Canadian Legal Profession

Adam Dodek and Alice Woolley

January 2016
UBC Press
ISBN: 9780774830980


What options did Paul Bernardo’s lawyer have when his client directed him to retrieve hidden evidence? Where would David Milgaard be today if a lawyer hadn’t doggedly challenged his murder conviction? And what should a defence lawyer do when told her client is a danger to the public? In this equally inspiring and troubling book, leading Canadian legal academics and practising lawyers draw on real-life stories – case studies, biography, and memoir – to examine the tension between ethics and the law.

The stories are revealing. Adam Dodek revisits Smith v. Jones to explore what can happen when client confidentiality and the public good come into conflict. Allan Hutchinson examines the poor choices made by serial killer Paul Bernardo’s defense lawyer. David Asper recounts the fight to free David Milgaard from jail, including mistakes he made along the way. Richard Devlin celebrates the life and career of "Rocky" Jones, a Black lawyer from Halifax who battled racism both outside and inside the law. Janine Benedet demonstrates how women’s issues are marginalized within the legal profession. Constance Backhouse reveals how historically lawyers obstructed Jews, people of colour, Aboriginal people, and women from entering law. Lorne Sossin questions why so few lawyers donate their time pro bono. Trevor Farrow raises troubling questions about access to justice within in Canada. Alice Woolley reflects on pressures within Canada’s legal culture. Brent Cotter recalls the life and work of Ian Scott, an Attorney General who used his position to transform society. And Micah Rankin critiques the Law Society of BC’s decision to punish lawyer Gerry Laaraker for criticizing another lawyer who he believed engaged in legal intimidation and blackmail.

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About the Author:

Adam Dodek, Dean of the Common Law Section, teaches Public Law,  Constitutional Law, Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility, and a seminar on the Supreme Court of Canada. He is a founding member of the Faculty's Public Law Group, the director of The Professionalism Initiative and the co-founder of the Legal Writing Academy.   He created and directs the Cavanagh Williams LLP Professionalism Speaker Series which is the first and only speaker series in Canada dedicated to issues of ethics and professionalism. He is the author of Solicitor-Client Privilege and The Canadian Constitution, as well as the co-editor of five other books. He is a member of the Chief Justice of Ontario’s Advisory Committee on Professionalism and is a former Governor of the Law Commission of Ontario. He is also a founding member of the Canadian Association for Legal Ethics and a member of the Advisory Board for the journal Legal Ethics. In 2014, he was named by Canadian Lawyer magazine as one of the twenty-five most influential figures in the Canadian legal profession.  In 2015, the Law Society of Upper Canada awarded him its highest honour, the Law Society Medal, for his exceptional contributions to the legal profession.

Click here to visit his Faculty web page.

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