In Honour of Friday, the 13th

And why some lawyers and many members of the public are sardonic about the profession.

This wouldn’t happen at your law firm, right?

All of our your lawyers aren’t this … challenged.

Or, where you still have a library with real books, and people who act as librarians rather than merely hands to file updates, they’re sufficiently able.

For you, because you strive for excellence, ‘mediocrity ‘r us’ is somebody else in another office.

The text below is an excerpt from a recent email that was addressed to a law firm I left in 2009.

I have been asked to find the following article which is cited as being on your website but which appears to be no longer available. Cheifetz, David, Causation in Canada in the Third millennium. Nothing is now Enough – Scraping the Surface  The Consequences of Resurfice Corp. v Hanke  2007 SCC 7 , June 23, 2008. This is cited, among other places on WestlawNext.

The email came from a good size firm in one of Canada main cities. The email was not from a lawyer. I have guessed, from its content, that it is the result of a request made by a lawyer or at the request of a lawyer.

The link to the old address is broken. That’s not a surprise. But what would you do if you faced that? Say the reference was to a report series that wasn’t available. Immediately look up the address of one of the lawyers whose names appear on the case and write to what you think was his or her law firm at the time?

Or, as seems to have happened here  for my article: write to a law firm I left 7 years ago? Check a directory and write to the law firm where  I was through early this year?

Or, perhaps, think for yourself, and, since you have a computer, or access to one that somebody else can use on your behalf, do a search engine search. Let’s do that ourselves using Google. Care to guess what you’ll get if you are reasonably competent?








Just two hits. Both telling you exactly where the file is.

If you are lazy so don’t narrow the search quite as much look what you get.








Isn’t that remarkable? The same 2 hits come up first. There were more hits on this search. I took the screen cap of only the first two.

The entire search and locate process took me under a minute for each search – I had to blow my nose during the process because I have a cold. Also, I know where the file is so perhaps that cut as much as 10 secs off the process.

If the firm / lawyer is looking for the article because he/she is doing research on the file – let’s ignore that it’s not the up-to-date piece – how much will the client be billed for the failed attempt.

Is there any wonder so many in the public look at the profession with cynicism and contempt? Maybe some of us deserve it.

Just saying (as Jon Stewart might have).


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