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When we look back at 2017, will we describe it as an age of anxiety? It certainly feels that way at the moment. We have seen populist surges across the Western world driven by economic uncertainty and demographic shifts. A media cycle has gone beyond 24 hours to an onslaught of fake news and instant updates.
Every year, we at Canadian Lawyer aim to connect with law firms and lawyers across the country in person to find out what is happening in their world. Last fall, I travelled to Nova Scotia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. My colleagues went to Quebec and B.C. and we all meet with many lawyers at our home base in Ontario. In our daily reporting, we speak and correspond with lawyers in other regions on a regular basis as well.
Lawyers are often criticized for a lack of decisiveness. When clients come seeking legal advice, what they are often looking for is strategic advice, and a muddled answer can drive clients crazy. They may ask a lot of questions, but “what should I do?” is usually the most important one, and “it depends” is most often not the answer they want.
Canadian lawyers often complain about our justice system, as they should. There are countless problems that need fixing, both large and small. Our governments have severely underfunded legal aid, indigenous people are incarcerated at a disproportionate rate, the courts are run with antiquated paper-based technology and millions of Canadians can’t afford to pay for proper legal advice.