Balance … as defined by the Governor General

The Canadian Governor General spoke at the Canadian Bar ASsociation annual meeting this month and decreed that lawyers must pay back their “debt to society” by having 10% of their work be pro bono (free) work.

He then went on to decree that law firms need to find a better balance between work & real life, presumeably by having people work fewer hours.

I take issue with the above.

First – by being a lawyer, I didn’t become a criminal, which is where the phrase “debt owed to society” is usually applied. The only “debt” I had at the time of graduation was a student loan, that I paid back.

We are a profession and should behave as such – of course, that would be easier to point out in the media if the Law Society didn’t admit convicted kidnappers into the bar as lawyers.

With respect to increasing the pro bono work and decreasing the work hours – how does the Governor General propose that financially is workable?

Lately many Judges are speaking out against what they perceive as aggregiously high legal fees being sought against losing parties. Given the words of the Governor General, the fees can only be going higher in order to pay staff more for working less and of course, working for free.

Am I the only one who finds that this doesn’t make sense?

Inga B. Andriessen, JD