Words matter?

It is not just lawyers in the UK that are concerned about their professional standing (see my recent post Whither the legal profession? The same is true in  Canada.

A recent post by Jordan Furlong a little over a week ago in his blog Law 21 took me to Law Times ,

“Toronto immigration and criminal law lawyer Mary Boyce submitted the motion at the [Upper Canada] law society AGM. It states that “it is demeaning to lawyers to be treated as a class of licensee.”. . . Boyce told the meeting that she first noticed the use of the term “licensee” in her member’s annual report. “For some, it seemed to be a lowering of the bar, a demeaning of the bar,” she said. “Words matter; they are our stock and trade.”

Many lawyers at the meeting voiced their concern with the change in language. Karen Andrews said she keeps a copy of the barristers’ oath at her desk. “This is fundamental to who we are and how we practise, and now it’s gone,” she said.

A lawyer who identified herself as a provincial offences prosecutor said she’s been disturbed by a recent trend of justices of the peace referring to paralegals as “officers of the court” or “friends of the court.” “We are no longer a profession,” she said. “I think it’s a mistake.”

Like Jordan Furlong

“I’m far more interested in the language used by the lawyers to describe their concerns. What’s at play here is more significant than semantics — it’s an illustration of the visceral reactions provoked when members of a group long accustomed to exclusivity and privilege suddenly find those characteristics slipping away.”

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