Human rights in the summer

There is a cartoon of a young lawyer , being interviewed by three American heavyweight partners.

“We practise law for the money, Gene, if you can think of a better reason, let us know”, says the chairman.

It may well be the purest of motives but, having heard little about access to justice from the profession these last six weeks, I wondered how citizens were coping.

Were they able to plead that the fat cats were in their second homes [Banus, Portugal, Donegal or the Port] and would be back soon?

It strikes me, as a retired Non-Human-Rights-Lawyer, that the access to justice argument only surfaces in times of Legal National Emergency. That is to say , a further reduction in fees.

Perhaps I’m unduly sceptical. Well, let me quote from an article written by Professor Kieran McEvoy in 2011.

“Internment suspects were entitled to be represented by a solicitor and counsel of choice… the remuneration was quite substantial for the time – a joint fee of £250-£300 for solicitor and counsel.Although groups of lawyers periodically threatened to withdraw their services, in practice the Northern Irish legal profession cooperated in the system of hearings…It is hard to quibble with the conclusion of Boyle et al [in 1975]  that the legal profession’s decision to continue to provide legal services was in part due to the lawyers’ genuine desire to assist their clients and …also in part due to the very substantial remuneration which had been provided.”

As clients on the Shankill and Falls often observe about lawyers: ‘plus ca change’.

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