Dalhousie Law Journal


Leon E. Trakman


Legal Competence, legal profession, Shakespeare, Henry VI


Attacks have been lodged against the legal profession for many years, indeed, since even before Shakespeare commented in Henry VI, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." However, it is only more recently, with the growth of mass education and public awareness and with technological advances, that suspicions of the incompetence of lawyers has arisen again with a vengeance. Some would credit this new trend to the condemnation of alleged incompetence among trial lawyers by Chief Justice Burger of the American Supreme Court. But to limit the attack on lawyers to this Chief Justice is to ignore the fact that problems of lawyers' abilities and performance are the inevitable outgrowth of an increasingly rights-oriented public, which has responded to the democratic system by questioning the utility of the lawyering services they receive in return for their money. The members of an educated community, conscious of the exchange of values in a free enterprise system, will ultimately question the mystique that surrounds the legal profession; they will doubt the lawyers' use of a covetted and impenetrable language, and they will likely decline to accept advice without reason, delay without cause, and inefficiency without excuse.