Lawyers are bullying their way out of favour, says York prof

As I welcome a new horde of law students to my classroom at Osgoode, I wonder how many of these ambitious and idealistic students were troubled by this summer’s roasting of the legal profession [in Maclean’s magazine], wrote Alan Young, a criminal law professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, in an article for NOW magazine Sept. 6.

People hate lawyers. I knew this when I entered the profession, and I know it now. Public opinion polls consistently show that only a small percentage of North Americans believe the profession is characterized by honesty and integrity. Polls also indicate a steady erosion in public trust and confidence in the past 20 to 30 years. If not for journalists, politicians, car dealers and telemarketers, lawyers would truly be the bottom feeders of our fragile social order.

Disdain for lawyers has little to do with overcharging or dishonest or lascivious conduct. Every profession will have some members who corrupt its ideals, but these scandals do not erode public confidence and trust to the degree found with politicians and lawyers.

Legal professionals act like gatekeepers of an exclusive club, and they have never been taught how to be good hosts when visitors are summoned. No one really wants to visit this club, but sometimes people have no choice but to turn to the law for help. Unfortunately, when they do, they are never allowed to forget that this is not their club and that they’re only there at the indulgence of the legal professional, so they had better be prepared to be pushed around, cajoled, insulted and patronized. The problem with lawyers is not that they are rats, but that they are bullies.

The ‘Angel of 2020’ says thanks

I write to express my thanks to Mike Strobel, Kevin Connor and the entire staff of The Toronto Sun for the well written, informative, full-page article on Aug. 24, and the article and video on Aug. 26, wrote York student Tamara Gordon, in a letter to The Toronto Sun Sept. 6. The articles were about my back-to-school extravaganza event for the children and young people in my building and neighbouring community. If the effectiveness of the articles were to be measured by the response received, I would have to say the reporters hit a home run.

A special thanks for acknowledging the volunteer group I started, without their assistance and the sacrificial help of my mom (who herself is partially disabled), I would not have been able to accomplish what I did. The extra donations allowed me to purchase more food and supplies so no student that came left the event without a full backpack. I was able to donate food to local churches and a youth shelter in the community. The youth shelter also received backpacks with supplies.

The article not only reached members of our local community but also caught the attention of the new lieutenant governor of Ontario, David Onley, who paid us a surprise visit and extended a personal invitation to my mother and I to his swearing in ceremony at Queen’s Park.

There are many others who deserve thanks, including leaders at York University who have given me exposure and multiple opportunities to develop my leadership, communication and other skills. As my motto says, "I am one, you are one, but together we are many." That means we can all do something and together we can make the world a better place to live. Thanks again for not just reporting the news, but inspiring change in our community.

On air

  • Robert Drummond, political science professor and dean of York’s Faculty of Arts, spoke about the provincial election campaign on CBC Radio’s “Metro Morning” and other regional stations, Sept. 5.