Barristers’ and Solicitors’ Oath to Uphold Rights & Freedoms of All Persons

Posted: May 11, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Lawyers have a special function in society to uphold the rights of all persons in British Columbia and Canada, which is codified in our Barristers’ and Solicitors’ oath. After articled students have finished their year of anticling, the students must answer in the affirmative to the following question, if they wish to practice law:

Do you sincerely promise and swear (or affirm) that you will diligently, faithfully and to the best of your ability execute the offices of Barrister and Solicitor; that you will not promote suits upon frivolous pretences; that you will not pervert the law to favour or prejudice anyone; but in all things conduct yourselves truly and with integrity; and that you will uphold the rule of law and the rights and freedoms of all persons according to the laws of Canada and the Province of British Columbia?

When I first affirmed to abide by this oath, I took it very seriously and knew that it was a special function that I was agreeing to undertake. However, I did not truly understand the significance of this oath until it is tested in the face of adversity. With the controversy surrounding he accreditation of Trinity Western University’s law school, I have turned back to the oath that I swore when I entered into the law profession.

When I read this oath, what stands out is that lawyers are obligated to uphold the rights and freedoms of all persons in accordance with the laws of Canada. This includes upholding the rights and freedoms of the LGTBQ community. Each lawyer has a professional and ethical obligation to review the applicable case law surrounding this controversy and make a good faith determination of how to uphold the rights and freedoms of individuals affected by the law societies’ decision to accredit Trinity Western University. Each lawyer in British Columbia will have a chance to take a stand on June 10, 2914, at the special general meeting to reconsider the BC Law Society’s decision to accredit Trinity Western University.

I cannot help but come to the conclusion that each lawyer has an obligation to vote against the accreditation of the law school of Trinity Western University, so long as this Christian University refuses to amend the discriminatory aspects of the covenant or allow an exemption for its law students. Requiring this minor change does not violate the right to freedom of religion (Trinity Western University continues to operate a Christian university with full accreditation). Alternatively, if one believes it is a matter of balancing two rights (freedom of religion and freedom from discrimination), the alternatives proposed to Trinity Western University (in order for its law school to obtain accreditation) strikes a reasonable balance.

The issue is not whether law graduates of Trinity Western University can uphold the oath, after they have entered into the law profession. The issue is whether or not we lawyers are upholding our oath, in allowing Trinity Western University to maintain its discriminatory admission policy while serving as a gateway to the law profession. My oath, my conscience, my morals, and my professional duty and ethics demand that I oppose the accreditation and stand up for the human rights of the LGTBQ community. I hope other BC lawyers will stand with me in doing the same.

Anonymous Lawyer


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