The legal profession has always been known to be a noble profession. Now a debate has arisen as to whether law has just become another product that we find in the market. The answer is yes and no. The debate surrounding the Legal Services Regulations Bill in Ireland is precisely on this topic. Legal services unlike other professions have not subjected itself to any regulatory authority. They are not scrutinized for the way they function or have not been told the do’s and don’ts of the trade. But the legal profession unlike other professions cannot be subjected to the scrutiny of a higher authority because lawyers using the law are often involved in tussles with the state and authorities. Therefore subjecting them to scrutiny of such an authority would be antithetical to their functioning.
Legal Services Regulations Bill
But is law just another product? Is it possible to argue that a person who is a victim of a medical mishap and requires compensation to go ahead with his treatment a ‘consumer’ of legal services. A young man who is wrong accused of murder and whose liberty is at stake can also not be called a consumer. So is the family who is threatened with foreclosure by a bank when they are not able to repay their mortgage payment. All these people are not voluntary consumers of the legal services. However to the corporate world legal services is just another product that it buys to run its affairs. They need legal services all the time to draw up contracts, to assist in employment disputes, to negotiate mergers, to acquire or rent property, to secure payment for services, to deal with banking and taxation matters . . . the list goes on. The corporate legal world is all but too competitive. This bill will hugely help their cause and bring some regulation into this highly messy affair.
However it is less obvious how this bill is to help the vast majority of Irish citizens for whom law is not something that helps them make their lives smother but something that helps them out of a crisis.