Dalhousie Law Journal


legal profession, professional responsibility, billble hours, culture, equality provisions, National Judicial Institute's Social Context Education Project


Are legal professionals concerned with "doing good" or just with "doing well" financially? In an age of increasing and intensifying public scrutiny there is a need to examine and challenge the legal profession's conception of professional responsibility, and how it translates into practice. This paper expresses the concern that the profession has moved too far in the direction of a "billable hours" culture, a culture that is falling short of the legal profession's obligation as a self-regulated entity to consider and acknowledge the public interest at all points. The author calls for a broader conception of professionalism, one that encompasses more than service for the client. This standard cannot be attained without a commitment to incorporating equality into all facets and corners of the profession. The Charter's broad and generous equality provisions, and the Supreme Court's subsequent expansive interpretations have entrenched the equality value as a fundamental component of the legal system. As a result, it is imperative for the legal profession to exhibit a commitment to justice that moves beyond rhetoric and translates into practice. While acknowledging the lack of simple solutions, the author discusses the National Judicial Institute 's Social Context Education Project as an example of the judiciary's efforts to respond to these issues. The profession is challenged to follow the judiciary's lead and incorporate equality issues more fully into its formal institutional structures and informal norms.