CBA President J. Parker MacCarthy stated,
“By cherry-picking the worst cases of lawyer misconduct, the article has tarnished the reputation of thousands of professionals who are honest, hard-working, and community-minded people… Lawyers defend their clients’ interests on a daily basis, and there are countless examples of lawyers who provide pro bono legal services in their communities.”
Kudos for an effective and timely communications strategy.
Macleans.ca has also responded to the CBA press release in full here.
Slayton himself responded to the CBA release for Maclean’s, stating,
I’m suggesting to J. Parker MacCarthy, the president of the Canadian Bar Association, that perhaps he and I should have a face-to-face debate about these substantial issues. Whatever you think about these issues, I don’t think you can deny that they’re of real importance, not just to the legal profession.
We would agree that the issues are important. Furthermore, we support dialogue on this any many other issues. However, there does seem to be a bit too much sensationalism at play.
James Morton of the National Report comments,
Under Canadian law, group libel is not actionable. No matter how malicious or false a comment about a group is, the comment cannot give rise to damages. You may safely call all bankers thieves – even if identifying just one of them by name would make you liable to be sued for defamation.
And the Blawgosphere Responds
The Precedent blog actually contacted Slayton for his comment. They asked, “Are lawyers rats?” and Slayton said,
First of all, I didn’t have anything to do with the cover. That was Maclean’s. I just saw it this morning. Second, it’s a magazine. It wouldn’t be a good headline if it said, “Some lawyers from time to time exhibit rat-like tendencies.” [emphasis added]
I just took my grandson to see Ratatouille and the central character, as you may know, is a rat. This is a rat that is a brilliant, principled and creative. So maybe the people who are upset are not up-to-date with their popular culture.
Slayton may have a new book to sell, but playing off of stereotypes to make headlines is somewhat distasteful.