Should we all be lawyers?

This week’s Maclean’s says that there is a lack of lawyers in this country, apparently due to the limited number of seats available in Canadian law schools–we’re not graduating enough law students each year to keep up with our growing population.  That may be the case, but with our complex legal system don’t we all need to be lawyers?
When I sat in law school, particularly in my first year, I remember thinking how I was receiving an education that all Canadians should have.  It’s an education that is necessary in our complex legal system–a system designed to operate with lawyers; created by lawyers.  In school I was uncomfortable knowing that the legal system, which is so incomprehensible for most people, creates barriers between those who have the information and those that don’t – it creates an uncomfortable and unnecessary elitist divide.  Why should only lawyers know this stuff?  What about the rest of us?  Shouldn’t we all know what our rights are under the law?  Shouldn’t we all know how to represent ourselves in a legal system under which we must all live?

Someone might reply that life’s not fair (one of my lines), that’s just the way it goes, should everyone be doctors then?  Yet the law isn’t like other professions–the law permeates every aspect of our lives.  Everyone needs to know the basics of the law to survive in our legal system, yet you don’t need to know the basics of medicine to survive in the health care system–it takes care of you, with or without your own doctor.  As it stands now, people not only need a lawyer to explain the law to them, they need a lawyer to protect them from the injustices of the system.
Just think about that for a minute or two–we all must adhere to the law but only a select group of people is allowed to be educated about it–those that are accepted into the law schools each year.  Does that seem right?  Instead of creating a few more spots in the law schools how about getting a real legal education into all the schools?  Or better yet, how about changing the legal system so that we don’t need a lawyer to inform and protect us?

Nancy Kinney B.A., LL.B
Founder of
Democratizing the Law One Question at a Time

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