An Open Letter to the Law Society of Upper Canada
- February 14, 2017
David Baker has authored the below open letter to the Law Society of Upper Canada. Regarding the danger of false advertising and the problems associated with the lack of an objective assessment regarding the quality of service provided by a lawyer.
To Whom it May Concern,
It looks like the Star has helped the Law Society decide to deal with the ridiculous advertising and bilking of uninformed clients by incompetent lawyers who are only interested in skimming the low hanging cream [to mix a metaphor]. I know who many of these guys are because they try and send the real cases with small payoffs to me. We also hear of people who were pressured by these lawyers to accept low ball offers extended by opportunistic adjusters who don’t even retain defence counsel since they are able to exploit underrepresented claimants. All hard to prove, but misleading advertising seems to be the oxygen that breathes life into these guys.
I don’t pretend to have any quick fixes, nor do I consider the return to the old boy network of referrals to represent progress. Because I don’t feel like a competitor of any of these lawyers, I’m hoping my opinion will be accepted in the spirit of protecting the public interest rather than of self-interest.
So here is my one peeve that I’m hopeful can be addressed by the Law Society.
People who know nothing about a lawyer are grasping at any indication of quality. There is nothing like Consumer Reports [which the Law Society may be incapable of providing, however great the need], and they don’t have a friend or relative in the profession to make a disinterested referral. Instead they rely on an ad on a bus or an internet site. Now that those are proliferating and it’s getting more difficult to choose between the official personal injury lawyer of the Toronto Raptors or the Maple Leafs, they are looking at phony “Awards”.
A day doesn’t go by when I am not offered an opportunity to be “Lawyer of the Universe”. Initially I was naturally flattered, until of course I read the fine print. After that it became a joke. Now I’m simply revolted that people are being misled by bogus awards, and the “award” bestowers and recipients are growing fat on the compensation these uninformed and misled people are forced to survive without.
We live in an age of award proliferation. I can prove I did not get my honourary doctorate for being a generous donor however I’m honest enough to recognize the Awards Committee needed someone to give incoming students a pep talk and the degree was the quid pro quo. I’ve never listed it as one of my credentials because my clients need action, not a pep talk.
I suppose it would be challenging to separate the wheat from the chaff. An LLM or Advocate Society Lawyer of the Year award presumably means something, but unless they can be distinguished from the bogus awards found on the back of cereal packages I have come to be of the opinion that they should all be kept under wraps so lawyer recipients can fondle them like a security blanket during times of insecurity and self-doubt rather than use them to as blunt clubs with which to bludgeon unsuspecting prey and drag them back to the office. We got rid of QC’s. Now it’s time to go the next step.