Do lawyers improve our world? American lawyer Philip Howard has launched a campaign to overhaul the expensive, slow US legal system, because of the public harm caused by litigation over public authority and professional judgment. For example, should students really be able to sue their teachers over their grades? Is medicine improved by suing so many doctors, nurses and hospitals, and how does that affect the skyrocketing cost of health care? (And should public money really fund courts to hear custody battles over pets?)
Sad to say, Howard’s Ted Talk rant is just as applicable in Canada as in the US. It’s a debate worth having – have we allowed the role of litigation and courts to expand too much, in environmental and other fields? And if so, what should we do about it?