September 9, 2010
Recent Study – Confirms Important Role of Lawyers
In a very interesting study entitled: A Refugee from Justice? Disparate Treatment in the Federal Court of Canada – A Refugee from Justice? Disparate Treatment
in the Federal Court of Canada, (FCC) JON B. GOULD, COLLEEN SHEPPARD, and JOHANNES WHEELDON LAW & POLICY, Vol. 32, No. 4, October 2010 The University of Denver/Colorado Seminary confirmed the key role of counsel:
In the end, this study suggests that, rather than occupying a special sphere, immigration decisions of the FCC conform largely to prior findings about judicial decision making. As others have shown in the U.S. civil (Seron et al. 2001) and criminal justice processes (Pearson 1984), litigants who are represented by counsel fare better before the court than do those appear pro se. The same is very much true in the FCC when would-be immigrants appeal the denial of their applications by the IRB. Indeed, representation by an experienced attorney is the most influential factor in this study in explaining the FCC’s decision to grant leave.
I highlight this study aside from the obvious reason that I am a lawyer and believe that I and the many lawyers that work with me at Bellissimo Law Group make a difference to applicants’ cases and by extension their lives, but because of the importance to elevate and not diminish the role of lawyers to the immigration, citizenship and refugee process generally. Visiting one’ s dentist, doctor or even financial planner when their respective area of expertise is necessary to one’s life is seen as expected and almost welcomed but seeing a lawyer in some respects has been cast as an exercise only for those without hope, a last resort or for the bad apples.
In other words, good immigration, citizenship and refugee applicants do not need representation!
This is problematic in so many ways but in short I have seen numerous cases in my career that absent the legal expertise, the strong applicant can become the poorly guided refugee applicant, the strong refugee claimant becomes the economic migrant, the foreign worker becomes the latest victim of a ghost representative to list but a few. People and the system then ask – how did this happen? It should have not happened but it did and so the cycle continues. So I am delighted to see the role of lawyers is being recognized because the increasing misinformation, barriers and noise between someone who needs help and those who can help has never been greater.