24 May 2006

Law Profession Should be Ashamed

There is an almost unbelievable post being linked to from a number of sites today from Jason Tomczak (but first noticed by me from John Gruber's Daring Fireball).

Jason has written an open letter to the Mac community - but really it should be read by a much broader group. His notoriety has come because he was involved in publicising the iPod nano susceptibility to scratching. A class action lawsuit was quickly started by a law firm who used his name as Lead Plaintiff on the case. Amazingly, Jason had never given them permission to do this, and by all accounts has wanted to distance himself from such actions.

If that is not amazing enough, it's the story of his subsequent fight to correct the misappropriation of his name and the tactics used by the law firms involved that really should strike fear into any person who thought for one minute that our justice systems are for the purposes of protecting the individual.

I have respect for most lawyers and believe they do an important job. But this renegade bunch of the profession exist almost only for their own aims. It may be legal, but it is as close to extortion as it gets. I have long worried that our governments are made up of a very high percentage of lawyers and that their inclination is to create more and ever complex laws. Even if the intention is for good it is the law community that benefits from this the most - a massive job creation scheme for themselves. But as it is a self-regulated profession, it serves to drive up rates to ludicrous levels putting justice out of the reach of ordinary people who can neither understand it or fight the intricacies of different laws - as shown by Jason's experience to extricate himself from this.

The law profession needs to be externally regulated and we need to apply greater rigour to ensure our laws are being created for the good of the people not for the benefit of the law firms. If this is not going to happen, the lawyers themselves need to ensure their profession is cleaned up. What we have going on is nothing short of Enron levels of behaviour. If justice is only about money it has lost its raison d'ĂȘtre. Who's going to clean up this system?

Footnote: Those who argue this couldn't happen in the UK are deluding themselves!

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