Categories
Legal Ethics

Truth In Advertising

I expect that “honest” would not be the first word that comes to mind as a general description of the business culture in Canada, or anywhere else for that matter. The idea of “buyer beware” (or “caveat emptor” as we lawyers like to say) is well ingrained in our business culture, and we all expect businesses to create “spin” when they market their goods and services.

Categories
Legal Ethics

People I Met Practicing Law Episode Two: Ethically Challenged

Patricia was a good lawyer.  She knew her law.  She worked hard.  She produced billings. She brought in clients.

We all have character flaws.  Even me.  However, Patricia had more than most of us. She was uber competitive.  She liked to win.  She hated to lose.  Patricia and others saw these attributes as positives. If she had been able to keep them under control, they might indeed have been assets.  She was not, so they were not.  

Categories
Legal Ethics

Time Travel on the HMCS Document

I attended my first closing of a commercial transaction when I was an articling student.  It was a rather large share transaction. The closing started around 2 pm and I imagine that the lawyers thought that they would be done by late afternoon.

It was not to be.

Categories
Legal Ethics

Ethics Matter, But Don’t Be Naive About It

In my first year of practice, a client asked me to advise him concerning his plan to build a sign for his restaurant.  The sign was to sit at sidewalk level and would be 6 feet high and 20 feet long with flashing neon lights.  It did not take long for me to determine that the sign would contravene the city’s by-laws and to tell him not to do it.

The client was furious with me.  He angrily explained to me that it was not my job to give him business advice.  In his mind, my role as the lawyer was simply to tell him what the law said and what the penalties were for breaking the law.  It was his job to make the determination whether it was a good business decision to break the law.  

That was my introduction to business ethics and how the practice of law fits in.