Monday, February 1, 2010

Start All Over Again!

Thank the Heavens for the beginning of a new month! A fresh start! An opportunity once again to get everything in order, after having wallowed into the New Year through that unwelcome month of January. Now is the time to get serious about resolutions - diet, drinking, exercise and finances. The possibilities of redemption and renovation are endless!

At least my start to the month (and, coincidentally, start to the week) isn’t too punishing, though I’ve had my nose to the proverbial grindstone since I arrived at the office shortly after 8:00 a.m. this morning. My sensitivities were only slightly shaken by incoming mail and faxes, the usual. It looks as though I may make it through the day unscathed by the raw reality of the practice of law, though the past several weeks have not been without their unbidden challenges. Being a choreographer of people’s private lives is frequently encumbered by incredible inertia, requiring no small amount of lubrication to get things rolling smoothly. As always, the superstructure only rises from the ground by degrees; and it goes without saying that the foundation must be carefully constructed to withstand the weight of what follows. In fairness, there are occasions when affairs unfold pleasantly enough and as one might expect; however, the norm is sadly otherwise. One must constantly be on the alert, fearing to be convinced by what one wants to see rather than what one actually sees. It is so tempting to cultivate either lies or ignorance.

Our adventure to Burnstown yesterday for lunch with my sister and sister-in-law was good fun, lots of laughs along the way. We consumed a full five hours or more from beginning to end, relishing our lack of commitment to anything other than mere pampering and frivolity, and a good deal of gossip I might add. It often requires extrication of people from their customary environment to appreciate the refinement of their characters. I reckon the unseen constraints which habitually exist between spouses, for example, allow little opportunity for singularity or novelty of self-expression. But once the floodgates have let go, hang onto your hat! It is not often that we rally with family members except upon the traditional occasions of birthdays, Christmas and that sort of thing. Under those circumstances, the alliances tend to be less intimate than when one is merely having a cozy lunch in a small and remote café. Furthermore, as people age and develop, their interests change, especially I am imagining for parents who are no longer entirely absorbed in raising their children. As the weight of those responsibilities begins to wane, no doubt horizons open for the prospect of other ruminations and undertakings, not the least of which is simply self-indulgence. God knows how parents must feel they at last deserve it!

Interspersed with the duties of my private avocation today has been some back and forth with a Toronto-based title insurance company for which I have written an article addressing the delicate issue of the value of legal services particularly in the area of residential conveyancing. Ever since the courts came down heavily a number of years ago on tariffs and the possibility of impeding a free and fair market place, the practice of residential conveyancing has become anathema to most law firms big enough to look upon it sniffingly. Even among many of the junior members of the bar who traditionally would have relied upon such work as their bread-and-butter, there is a move away from it, which I consider unfortunate, given how important one’s home is to most people. The fact too that the incidence of malpractice in residential conveyancing is so high illustrates that computers, software, electronic registration and title insurance have not proven to be the elixir for reducing legal fees to preposterously low levels. I recall how, thirty-five years ago, there was nothing undignified about senior Counsel attending at the Land Registry Office to undertake a search of title. While this may now be an anachronism, it nonetheless highlights that the involvement of the Solicitor in the conveyancing process is still both important and warranted. How often I have seen utter garbage produced by clerks using software as though it were little more than a computer game. Just because it is now easy to produce reams of rubbish in an instant does not mean it is correct. There also appears to be a developing tendency (and one which I believe the title insurers are now seeking to redress) for unprincipled Solicitors to hide behind the title insurer as though any amount of abandon in the practice will ultimately be remedied or perfected by the insurers. Not only does this amount to gross negligence, but more importantly it does nothing whatever to advance the interests of the Clients, who are often left to fret over the outcome of such supercilious conduct.

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