An Ancient and Honourable Profession
by Robert C Brun
We are members of an ancient and honourable profession founded upon great traditions. As Cicero observed over 2000 years ago:
“Est enim sine dubo dumus iuris consulti, totius oraculum civitatis – For the house of a great lawyer is assuredly the oracular seat of the whole community.” Cicero, De Oratore, I, 45
The same is still true after all these years. As lawyers practising today, these great traditions continue. While we have our detractors we should always be proud of our calling.
At a recent legal conference that I attended I was told of an event that occurred in the hotel elevator on the way to attend the meeting. One occupant who identified himself as a doctor from the United States, commented on the name badges that identified the conference attendees as members of the Canadian Bar Association. He then proceeded to relate a joke about lawyers that relied heavily on a comparison between rats and members of our profession. In a measured tone, one of our colleagues responded with the question: ”What do you call three lawyers on a Wednesday night in a high school meeting room?” After a brief pause he responded, “the heart of the community.”
The physician was quiet for the remainder of the ride.
The story is true, both in the sense that it actually happened and that members of our profession give so much more to society than just their talents and skills as lawyers.
As a parent, I continually meet with lawyers who after a long day’s work give of their time as team coaches, scout leaders, charity fund raisers and community volunteers. The list of these endeavours is endless.
As President of the Canadian Bar Association, B.C. Branch, I constantly witness the enormous amounts of time and energy given to our profession by volunteers who work with the CBA on committees, Section activities, law week events and on Provincial Council. The Canadian Bar Association, B.C. Branch carries on its good work through the efforts of a volunteer army. Hundreds of our members give freely of their time. Thousands benefit from Section and committee activities. Indeed, we are a profession of volunteers.
Also, as Branch President, I come into contact with lawyers in all areas of practice. I work with criminal defenders, prosecutors, poverty law advocates, corporate counsel, solicitors and civil litigators. With almost 10,000 lawyers in British Columbia our members have diverse views and interests that span all aspects of the political spectrum. What impresses me, is that regardless of this diversity, all of the lawyers that I meet are passionately committed to fulfilling the enormous responsibility that goes hand in hand with the privilege of practising law.
So, like our colleague in the elevator, I call upon each of you to continue to fight the good fight and to be proud every day that you are privileged to be a member of the legal profession. We spend much time advocating the rights of our clients but we must always remember to be passionate advocates and defenders of our own profession.
Editor’s Note: In an insert in this issue we proudly thank the volunteers who served on committees and task forces, as Section Executive or as Local and County Bar Presidents, or in other ways contributed to the work of the CBA in 2003.
This article was published in the December 2003 issue of BarTalk. © 2003 The Canadian Bar Association. All rights reserved.