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Debate most useful

Any lawyer looking for debate is sure to find it with their peers. The amount of discussion set off over requiring lawyers to sign a statement of principles has been a heady surprise.

But, sometimes, debate can be applied in important ways.

Take some family lawyers’ critiques of a proposed amendment by the Ontario government of the Family Law Act.

The amendment is intended to provide parity between dependent adult children of unmarried and married parents who require ongoing child support.

The amendment is more restrictive than the federal Divorce Act, say lawyers, which they claim will lead to poor results.

“The [provincial] government is perpetuating differential treatment between children of married versus unmarried parents,” said Joanna Radbord, a lawyer who said the amendment is “bad for everyone.”

“I am stunned that the proposed amendment continues to discriminate,” she added.

This is advocacy at its best by lawyers familiar with the issues facing their clients.

So is the work of human rights lawyer Richard Warman, who has criticized the Law Society of Upper Canada for a lengthy investigation related to another lawyer who advertised in a publication that has been decried as racist, misogynistic and homophobic. Warman says he complained 20 months ago, and he has now received word that the lawyer will face a regulatory meeting.

“Personally, I’m at least as concerned that the law society permitted such a straightforward issue to drag on forever when discipline is supposed to help lawyers stay on track or get back on it as soon as possible before further harm is done to the profession,” Warman says.

In this time, there is much that divides us.

Sometimes, it’s knowing on which front to fight the battle.

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