[EDITORIALS]Legal irregularities flourishIt is surprising to see that the crimes committed by lawyers, which have been uncovered by the Seoul District Prosecutors Office recently, exceed those of ordinary criminals. Throwing away their basic duties of protecting people’s human rights and implementing the rule of law, the lawyers had been selling their legal profession by all possible means and methods.
The pattern of irregularities is colorful: They paid commissions to brokers to bring litigation cases to them; fledgling lawyers who had just graduated from the Judicial Research and Training Insitute were found to have earned 5 million won ($4,446) a month by working for managers of lawyers’ offices; there were lawyers who were paid 2 million to 3 million won for visiting prison inmates two to three times a week; and, some of them had even lended their mobile phones to inmates, so that the inmates could manage their properties from their prison cells.
Why do irregularities repeat themselves like this? The absence of moral principles among lawyers can be the primary reason. Another is lukewarm punishment by the judiciary. In the case of those under investigation now, the prosecution applied for arrest warrants for four lawyers out of seven indicted. But the court dropped one of the four applications and released two lawyers on bail. Now, only one is behind bars. The same applies to the Korean Bar Association’s punishment of its members. Among those accused is one whose license was once suspended by the association.
The victims of these irregularities are the clients. Investigators say that brokers take 25 to 40 percent of the fee paid by the clients. It means that clients must pay that much more. Therefore, people must be careful not to be cheated by the sweet words of legal brokers.
To end these irregularities, lawyers’ education must be strengthened. They must be required to attend ethical code classes during re-education courses they must pass after practicing law for one, five and 10 years. At the same time, those involved in irregularities must be punished sternly so that they will not recur.