Lawyers Gone Bad: Money, Sex and Madness in Canada’s Legal Profession
Growing up I had two dream jobs: first, I wanted to become a Journalist; when that dream faded, it turned into becoming a Lawyer. I wanted to fight the injustices of the world and put the bad guys behind bars. It was during my University career that I saw this book in the school bookstore and I couldn’t resist picking it up. It seemed like the perfect introduction into how quickly things can go wrong in the legal field and, as such, learn how to avoid what these lawyers could not.
Philip Slayton creates a successful book for two reasons:
- He has worked within the legal system for most of his career, first as a professor and secondly as a practicing lawyer;
- He doesn’t condemn. He passes no judgment on the men and women that he is writing about, if anything, he feels some pity and understanding towards a few of them.
From sleeping with your client, stealing money, committing fraud, to beating up clients who caused a little bit of frustration, Lawyers Gone Bad covers it all. We all remember the conundrum that Paul Bernardo’s lawyer found himself in, with very little distinction as to what to do. Many of the lawyers in this work face a similar problem: sometimes, as the law society states, sleeping with a client is okay, sometimes it isn’t; it is a common practice to overcharge on fees, but it shouldn’t be done. Sometimes lawyers will be disbarred for committing such actions, and sometimes they will simply be suspended for a short period of time.
Slayton is not simply providing an overview regarding a couple of lawyers that crossed the line; he is also critiquing and analyzing a legal system that creates avenues for lawyers, such as the ones in the work, to cross the line. With very little distinction as to what is proper and what is not (sleeping with clients); governed by a body made up of the very people they are governing (lawyers); and where cynicism and greed is easily bred instead of a sense of justice and right, the legal system, according to Slayton, requires a number of changes. Of course, as he states, lawyers that break the law because of behavioural problems are always going to be found within the system. But, lawyers that break the law because the system allows and even encourages them, is the true issue.
If you have an interest in the law, then this is a book for you. If you feel disdain towards the legal profession and lawyers in general, then this is a book for you. It is an interesting and educational read. Slayton doesn’t simply bash the legal system; he tries to explain why the legal system can breed dangerous behaviours and why, past and present, lawyers have gone bad.