Globe and Mail

Society urges use of lawyers

Compiled by Margot Gibb-Clark and Gordon Pitts.
The Globe and Mail
Monday, April 3, 2000

The British Columbia Law Society is urging people to use lawyers in family court proceedings after a man represented by a lay advocate committed suicide.

The lay advocate apparently failed to present proper evidence to the court on behalf of Darrin White, the law society said.

The master who heard the case wrote that although Mr. White's defence was based on financial hardship due to a medical disability, there was little, if any, evidence such as cheque stubs or physicians' notes presented to prove it.

The law society acknowledged that there is a cost to using lawyers, but said lawyers are trying to deliver their services more quickly and cheaply, using methods such as mediation to avoid trials.

It also suggested that people be cautious about attributing suicidal actions to any one factor, such as a court decision. "Experts have said time and again that suicide [is] the result of complex issues of nature, nurture and circumstance. We are doing a disservice to everyone by blaming any one person or thing for a suicidal act."

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