Blog Network

About The Bloggers


Canadians Debate: Are Lawyers Rats?

As Jim Romenesko puts it, "the 'rodents' are furious." He refers to the reaction by Canadian lawyers to the cover story in the current issue of the magazine Maclean's titled "Lawyers are Rats." (Here is the story, and here is the cover.) The story is an interview with Philip Slayton, the one-time Bay Street lawyer who has published the book, Lawyers Gone Bad: Money, Sex and Madness in Canada's Legal Profession.

The piece has drawn the ire of Canada's organized bar and spawned its own war of words. The Canadian Bar Association posted a statement on its Web site that "condemned in the strongest possible way" the story for its "distorted, one-sided and sensationalized picture of the legal profession." Gavin MacKenzie, treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada, issued a statement  accusing the magazine of yellow journalism. James C. Morton, president of the Ontario Bar Association, went even further, suggesting in the National Post an analogy to the Nazi's portrayal of Jews:

"The title on the cover of Maclean's is especially objectionable: The connection of lawyers to rats brings to mind the opening scene from Der ewige Jude ('The Eternal Jew'), the grotesque 1940 Nazi anti-Jewish film showing a pack of rats emerging from a sewer, juxtaposed with a crowd of Jews in a bustling Polish street."

Maclean's gave the CBA a page in the magazine to respond to the article and published the CBA's statement on its Web site. Now it accuses the CBA of declining its request to circulate its response to CBA members. It further accuses the CBA of applying financial pressure to the magazine's parent company to force an apology. The magazine's editor-in-chief, Ken Whyte, portrays the actions of the CBA as confirmation of its headline:

"That the CBA would refuse to debate the serious issues raised by our piece and instead try to -- let's put the best face on this -- use its financial muscle to purchase an apology from us rather confirms the sentiment of our cover line."

As for Slayton, the subject of the interview and the author of the book, the Toronto Star reports that all this controversy has made him the legal profession's Public Enemy No. 1. So much for ratting on your own profession.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on August 3, 2007 at 06:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


About ALM  |  About  |  Customer Support  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms & Conditions