Volume 4, Issue 1, (Originally Published on Monday 29TH July 2013)
The image of the amoral/immoral lawyer and a corrupt justice system, championing the rights of the ruling class has been present since the days of Plato and is ever-present in mainstream culture today (Boston Legal, Suits, etc.).
As the saying goes, there is no smoke without fire, so what is it that changes in the mindset of the many pious law students who start out wanting to change the world and campaign on the platform of justice and equality for all?
Understandably, many law students aspire to practice, and having a big corporate firm foot the bill for their practical legal training is a difficult offer to turn down – if you are lucky to get it.
Notwithstanding the fact that many studying law already come from privileged backgrounds, entry into this even more elite club inevitably means that you will become a well-compensated tool for the biggest corporations that operate in Australia.
As much as these corporations may appear to be community-focused and environmentally friendly, and appeal to other populist ‘left’ ideals are in vogue, they will engage in morally dubious activities which you will assist or facilitate to ensure maximum profits flood back into their coffers (likely located in some offshore tax haven).
Don’t worry though. You will look good while you’re doing it (cha ching!), and perhaps when you’ve earned enough, you can work pro bono for the refugees/workers/environment.
The diamond in the rough, the law student who chooses the path of the community advocate, also faces challenges when it comes to bringing justice to the masses.
Not only are you likely to be overworked and underpaid, you also have some of the most complex legislation to deal with.
Who would have thought that the legislature, while championing access to justice in creating regulations on pay-day loans and consumer leases targeting society’s most disadvantaged, would make it hard to understand? Silly you!
Even Chapter 6 of the Corporations Act on takeovers (renowned for its complexity) pales in comparison. And, when you do have a win, such as the M70 case, you can be sure that Parliament will legislate with barbed wire around the ratio to ensure no one can touch their precious vote-winning, discriminatory policy.
Maybe it’s the system that’s broken; the system that breaks us. For all the ‘morality’ and theory we learn about at law school, for all the good that our lecturers spend so many hours trying to instil in us, ‘the real world’ puts many roadblocks in the way of harnessing the law to achieve what we believe is right.