THE ADVOCATE V O L . 7 5 P A R T 5 S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 7 785
A large law firm’s letter from another jurisdiction where lawyers are relatively
and actually more numerous than in B.C. breathes a far different spirit:
Personally, if the writer were in your place and able to carry on for a few
months without making much money, he thinks he would go to ________
Later a move might be made to … which would carry with its business
and connections developed there. … We are asking … and … to send you
particulars. One of the writer’s good friends in another profession is
moving to … If you find that we can be of further assistance to you, we
shall be glad to hear from you.
And this excerpt from a recent letter from an even larger firm (established
in 1888) clearly states the more optimistic and, we believe, the true
view, whether the law be deemed overcrowded or not:
You will understand from what I have already said that the legal profession
here is quite crowded, but this applies to … as well. In fact, the same
thing may be said of almost any locality. I have never found a place
where there were not more lawyers than were needed, and, at the same
time, I have never seen a place where a good lawyer could not somehow
make a proper place for himself.
It is only natural that a young lawyer should want to stay in the law, even
determine to practise it “on his own behalf in the time honoured orthodox
professional way”, as the late Chief Justice Archer Martin (then Mr. Justice
Martin) put it in Davenport v. McNiven 42 B.C.R. 472.
But there is, of course, something far more serious than mere personal
inclination. As we all know, in various branches of law, e.g., defamation,
slander per se, show that valuable rights are involved where one has a
And it is a serious pecuniary injury when a man is diverted from practising
his profession. A young man of 28, who intended to follow the profession
of marine engineer, but was prevented from carrying out his intention
by the tort of the defendant, obtained the equivalent of $15,000 by way of
prospective damages. Johnston v. G.W. Ry. Co. (1904) 2 K.B. 250 (C.A.). A
young barrister’s prospective loss would have been greater.
It is therefore much to be hoped, for many reasons, that no returning
lawyer or law student who has a yen for the law and legal ethics, will be
deterred by the pessimists, but will go forward confident in the cordial cooperation
of the majority of fellow practitioners.
Wide experience proves that professional rivalry—emulation, rather—
and competition are stimulating, not destructive, and each one who perseveres
can make his own proper place for himself in the law, whether the
way lies through temporary failures and hardships or by slow but continuing
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