Professionalism under threat, says Bar Chair


Lawyers need to ‘re-double’ their efforts to encourage professional standards and conduct in the digital age that values economic success, the Chairman of the Bar told the International Bar Association.

Speaking at its annual conference in Washington in September, Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC said: ‘An increasing focus in society on economic success and on taking a commercial approach, I believe, threatens professionalism.’ She insisted: ‘The Bar is a profession. It is not simply a job.’

But she said the 21st century brings many challenges to that sense of professionalism, including political pressures, societal changes, regulators, financial pressures, press coverage, perception and technology.

Doerries said: ‘The more we act, or are encouraged by society to act, as purely businesses or are treated simply as part of a market of legal services…the more we attenuate the idea of being a professional lawyer, and ultimately undermine the special and fundamental role.’

Lawyers she said, need to ‘re-double’ their efforts to encourage professional standards and conduct in an age where technology is changing working practices.

Public legal education, she added, was the way to teach society the real value of professional lawyers.

Positively, she said young barristers understand this; they come to the Bar to be professionals and for the challenge of demonstrating what it means to be a professional worthy of the name.

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