THE ADVOCATE 453
VOL. 79 PART 3 MAY 2021
By D. Michael Bain,Q.C.
THE PAST, PRESENT AND UNCERTAIN
FUTURE OF SOLICITORS
* Reprinted from (2000) 58 Advocate 233.
By Neil Vallance
Aquestion often posed is: “What kind of law do you practise?”
The answer “I’m a barrister” might be understood if the questioner
is a fan of Rumpole of the Bailey. Otherwise, the barrister
can try “trial lawyer”, “litigation lawyer” or “courtroom lawyer”.
These terms are certain to bring a gleam of recognition, thanks to the courtroom
dramas portrayed in bestselling books and television shows. The
answer “I’m a solicitor” will generally bring only a blank look. The solicitor
has no handy synonyms to fall back on and must resort to a listing of practice
areas: “I do conveyancing and mortgages, wills and estates and some
corporate and commercial work.” Usually this will elicit a look of boredom
and a change of topic.
There is a growing perception among solicitors in British Columbia that
their side of the profession is in a gradual state of decline in status and
income. There is also a growing perception among the public that the traditional
“bread and butter” areas of solicitors’ practice, such as conveyancing,
wills, estates and incorporations, do not necessarily merit the use of a
lawyer. Finally, there is a fear among solicitors that their role of providing
advice to businesses will be taken over by the chartered accountants, and
that corporate/commercial solicitors will become mere employees of the