Prime Time Crime


(Published in the Similkameen Spotlight Sept. 10, 2004)

The legalities of evil

  By John Martin

The devil visited a lawyer's office and made him an offer. "I can arrange some things for you, " the devil said. "I'll increase your income five-fold. Your partners will love you; your clients will respect you; you'll have four months of vacation each year and live to be a hundred. All I require in return is that your wife's soul, your children's souls, and their children's souls rot in hell for eternity."  The lawyer thought for a moment. "What's the catch?" he asked.

I found this on one of those Internet sites that post lawyer jokes. There's some good ones there but as pathetic and ridiculous as these sites make lawyers look, they're nothing compared to the real live proceedings of the Canadian Bar Association.

As was recently announced, members at the Bar Association's annual meeting defeated two proposals that would have prohibited lawyers from having sex with their clients.

First, they overwhelmingly rejected a zero tolerance resolution that would outright ban sexual relations between lawyers and clients. Then they defeated a watered down motion to prohibit attorneys from having sex with their most "vulnerable" clients such as refugee claimants and those involved in domestic dispute matters.

"Nothing doing" proclaimed members of the bar. This is all really quite rich considering many trial lawyers make a good living by representing clients who claim to have been sexually exploited by teachers, doctors, therapists, priests, supervisors and other individuals in positions of authority and power.

They even had the hypocritical gall, at the same meeting, to pass a resolution demanding that Ottawa compensate each and every one of the 90,000 Aboriginals who went through Canada's residential school system. Needless to say, hundreds of lawyers stand to make a killing from the residential school claims.

This moral and ethical vacuum so vigorously pronounced by members of the Canadian Bar Association is mind-boggling. You'd think if any profession were interested in seizing an opportunity to remake their public image, it would have been the legal community. First we're inundated with lawyers trying to get rich off of tobacco companies and fast food chains for allegedly forcing people to smoke and making them fat. And now this.

Apparently, many of the lawyers in attendance thought the motions were hilarious and the conference room was filled with laughter and guffaws about "full service law firms". Interesting that when a non-lawyer publicly makes jokes with sexual overtones a small army of human rights lawyers come slithering out of the woodwork.

We always hear how cutthroat and viscous trial lawyers are in the United States. But the American Bar Association understands something as basic as right and wrong, and explicitly prohibits sexual relations between lawyers and clients.

I guess U.S. lawyers will have to be content with only being able to financially screw their clients.

John Martin is a Criminologist at the University College of the Fraser Valley and can be contacted at

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