July 16, 2020

When members of the public find themselves in a dispute with the state, many turn to a lawyer to protect them and defend their rights. It is for this reason that the lawyers are independently regulated. Independence of the legal profession is central to a free society that is governed by the rule of law.

In British Columbia and Canada, our laws apply to everyone equally, including government officials, corporations and private citizens, no matter how wealthy or powerful. Our laws must be administered and enforced fairly and equally. Lawyers help citizens to stand up against government or other powerful interests without fear of retribution or reprisal. Fortunately, we live in a province and country where this is a core principle that is deeply respected.

This is not the case in other places around the world. There are a number of countries around the world where the independence of the legal profession is under attack. There are countries where individual lawyers face threats, intimidation, retaliation, harassment, arrest and prosecution for fulfilling their professional responsibilities. These attacks not only harm lawyers, but threaten the human rights and access to justice of the clients and citizens that lawyers serve.

To bring greater attention to the issue and what governments around the world must do, the Law Society of British Columbia joins the International Association of Lawyers and over 60 legal regulators and bar associations worldwide in a Call to Action in Support of the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.