Wednesday, March 1, 2017

To Kill Or Not To Kill Lawyers: Cab-Rank Rule (Part III)

Lawyers: Defenders of Justice, Keeper of the Truth, Protectors of the Innocent, Knights against Tyranny, Vanquishers of Corruption... Or are they?

In this three-part series (or more, if I get more ideas and hate mails), I will attempt to rationalise why lawyers do more harm than good in society. First, I pointed out how lawyers tend to work for bad guys rather than good guys because bad guys pay better (and good guys don't have problems). Then, I explained why letting 10 guilty men go free rather than jailing an innocent man is a really bad idea.

Now, let's talk about the cab-rank rule.

Cab what? You've never heard of it, have you?

No, it's not some hipster band (that's Death Cab For Cutie). No, it's not some new cool Uber feature (close enough).

Technically, taxi-drivers must accept any customer who hails them, so long as they are paid a reasonable fee and the destination is within their reach. Likewise, lawyers must accept any client who walks into their office and wishes to engage them on a court case, so long as the fee is reasonable and the case is within their expertise. The rule is meant to protect public interest - to ensure that every person, especially the poor and downtrodden, are able to hire a lawyer to defend their rights.

Uber for lawyers - Luber (okay, maybe not)

Photo credit: Legal Cheek

So if the rule is good for the people, why don't people talk about it?

Well, the idea is sound in principle, but sucks in practice.

Most lawyers don't like to talk about the cab-rank rule, because it takes away their freedom to pick and choose their clients. That is, except when they suddenly represent despicable but rich clients (like murderers, rapists, and corrupt politicians), so to shield themselves from criticism, and to appear all noble as they go on and on about "every one deserves a fair trial". Which says a lot about the nature of lawyers - they only talk about rights and rules when it suits their purpose.

Most people don't talk about the cab-rank rule, because they don't even know such a thing exist. If you're poor and walk in a lawyer's office looking for help, you'll get million and one excuses why he can't take on your case ("Interesting case, but this month I'm really swamped" or "Sorry, I'm no expert in this kind of thing"). Some may be honest enough to tell you straight in the face that you can't afford his fees. Either way, the rule is rarely applied in practice, so it's non-existent as far as the public is concerned (its entry in Wikipedia is 3-paragraphs long).

This man deserves the best lawyers in town, obviously
#cabrankrulerocks #tearsofinnocence #richandfamouspeopledontkill

But is the rule even sensible in the first place? No, not at all, at least not when private lawyers are concerned. Look, try putting 10 lawyers through a lie detector test, and 9 will admit that they're doing law for the money, not to help the public. The rule only makes sense if lawyers are all governed under a public body which regulates their affairs strictly.

Even taxi-drivers have trouble following the rule. We have all been there - standing by the road frantically waving our hands to no avail as they whizz by, and being crudely rejected if our destination is not worth their time and effort.

The cab-rank rule is so utterly useless that even the British Law Society and Bar Council are thinking of abolishing it altogether (not that anyone notices or gives a shit, anyway).

To sum up, the cab rank rule is yet another perfect example of lawyers pretending to be noble instead of who they really are - money-minded and self-righteous.

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