Why did we become lawyers?

Birmingham Post Legal Column
September 2014

BY EILEEN SCHOFIELD

Why did we become lawyers? Thwas the question that the Lord Chief Justice threw out to an audience of city firm managing partners, lawyers, Presidents of local societies, workers at law centres, even a few journalists who were present at the launch of the Access to Justice campaign, all of whom mulled over the question for the few moments. The LCJ was quick to answer we all became lawyers to uphold the rule of law and to ensure that justice is done by fighting for our fundamental rights.

The Access to Justice campaign was thus launched. There are 3 main aims: to raise public awareness of the injustice in not being able to access lawyer support, to persuade government to amend policy for funding and to ensure that we as lawyers make our services more accessible.

In this very column last week Steve Allen from Mills and Reeves wrote a piece focusing on law students about to embark on a legal career. He was very clear that law is a profession for those who are determined, focused and prepared to work hard to uphold the integrity of the profession and the law. Most students study law with an ideological plan to change the world. They are going to be the modern day Lord Denning forever quoted as a pillar of the legal profession.

Access to justice can be interpreted in many different ways; what is justice – is it found in the civil courts – well yes … in Birmingham as around the country lawyers alongside other professional services are the backbone of the economy. There are very few contracts around the City which haven’t been drafted by a lawyer and these contracts provide a springboard for growth, employment and prosperity. When those contracts are in dispute lawyers are called upon to see justice is done.

Justice is absolutely sought in criminal proceedings, today’s society is keen to challenge and scrutinise the legal profession such that the very people who need to have access to justice and who apply for state funding are being squeezed out of the equation. Just imagine for a moment a society where we live in fear and chaos because of the denial of access to justice.

Please support the Access to Justice campaign and simply let us know about where you believe that there is injustice.

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