We have been talked about since the beginning of mankind. Some say we were created in the image of the serpent that tempted Eve to eat the forbidden fruit; where theologists conceive the serpent as controlled by Satan or even Satan himself (Revelation 12:9 and 20:2). Hence, we have ever since been stamped as “Devil’s Advocate”. Hollywood does not do justice to rebut this myth; on faith and belief alone they side with the masses pursuing those elusive ratings that roll in the 6 digit pay cheques.
Today, I speak of my Western counterparts; a system based on contingency fee agreements (US and Canada)/ No Win No Fee (Commonwealth) and a jury system.
I wanted to make this posting informative yet not pall on about the technical aspects of the legal profession. For me, this is a profession of calling; we opt for it without comprehension of the responsibility it carries. And, we downgrade it as merely a service provided for a fee; impersonal and without real self-sacrifice. Rationalizing to ourselves that its not medicine; we are not dealing with people’s life; for dispute resolution is all but money and money means nothing for it is replaceable. Into this empty cauldron, we add the dangerous concept of contingency fee arrangement and a jury system in a futile attempt to give a purpose to an already misconceived cause.
To discharge one’s duty to the best of one’s ability; there requires two indispensable qualities; moral principles or/and no conflict of interest. So, either you have strong moral principles that lust for money and fame does not sway you or (if you are ordinary like me) try not to encounter conflict of interest scenarios. What contingency fee agreements do is strike at the heart of the ordinary man’s weakness. We are given more money when we win; win we must; no matter what the costs to the client or the opposing party or the legal precedence we set. Again, it must be pointed out for ordinary layman that winning for a client may not be necessary good; not all costs for legal action would be awarded in damages and qualitative attention from press coverage and media frenzy would leave a scaring effect. Yet, who cares ? I win I get money and even prolonging legal action at the expense of both parties may up my service fee. It becomes all about you. Temptation for the feeble minded is like offering stale food to a starving child.
Jury system itself has been abolished in many jurisdictions and reasons given are self-evident yet America still clings to its third amendment and hope/trusts that ordinary untrained layman with pre-existing polarized opinions to decide on civil liberties of other people! In their hands, a lawyers’ pay cheque is placed and price tag for freedom is merely convincing unconnected and distant jurors how a person’s fate should be decided. Hence, telling them what they want to hear becomes more important than what is legally true. Legal precedence and public policy are consumed by factual context leaving more uncertainty for humans to govern their actions and end of the day just more business for lawyers.
With no higher purpose demanded by a broken system; contingency fee arrangements combined with the jury system has created a creature worthy of the label engraved: “Devil’s Advocate”.