Speech by Prof Univ. Dr. Liviu Bogdan Ciucă President of the Academy of Legal Sciences of Romania on the occasion of Justice Day 2023

“We are as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Starting from the proposed theme “The challenges of law in the contemporary world. Impact on legal professions”, I was tempted to approach the subject from established perspectives. Thus, we initially looked at the effect of globalisation on law and the legal professions.

I tried to focus on the transition from a communist regime to the rule of law, to address concepts such as: rule of law, democracy, human rights, legal culture, European values and to highlight the effect of globalization on them.

I thought, however, that these issues have been debated at length, often through rigorous scientific analysis, and a resumption of the topic would no longer be justified.

I then intended to focus on contemporary “musts”, on fashionable topics such as artificial intelligence and new technologies, trying to identify the effects of their involvement in procedures specific to the legal professions. Even though the topic is current and constantly preoccupies me, I felt that a different approach to the general theme is more challenging and maybe, why not, useful!

We analyzed more subtle theories, such as mioritic fatalism specific to the national space and how such an attitude could influence the Romanian legal world. I admit that in my research in this direction, I have discovered unexpected theories and connections that generate conclusions that deserve to be debated more broadly and rigorously.

However, influenced by the social context of the days when I started producing this material, I wondered if and how, the social aggressiveness, the superficiality of the educational process and the rapid completion of necessary stages of professional training influence the professional bodies in the legal and legislative area and if all these are not in themselves “a challenge in the contemporary world”.

In this regard, I have resumed the topics that I have debated before and which constantly concern me. I was reminded of the approaches through articles published in the “Palace of Justice” magazine, articles analyzing the impact in society of the “lack of models” and the negative effects of the concept of “fast justice”.

Taking a step beyond the themes mentioned, I thought I would address the vulnerabilities that arise within the professions and in the relationship between the legal professions.

In a famous thought, Sallustius argued: “By union small things grow, and by division the greater fall.” By trying to apply this saying to professional bodies in the legal field, we can judge their strength and success according to the division or unity of their members. Even if it is a delicate subject and rarely approached in a context such as the one proposed by the Palace of Justice, one of the fundamental confrontations that legal professions will have to overcome is the one related to resistance to the existing dissolution and even promoted by today’s society. Assuming that all members of a professional structure are professionals who are passionate and in love with their profession, I have often wondered why the weaknesses of the legal professions are generated from within, rather than determined by factors external to the profession.

I do not dispute the struggle to gain new skills, publicly recognised or not, existing between the legal professions. This concern exists even if each profession has its own status and profile, its own utility and defined nobility. However, we appreciate that wisely, with a complex vision and focused on fundamental objectives, representatives of the legal professions managed to temper the swirling momentum of some members and even managed to support each other in the face of dangers from outside the legal field. I tried to answer these questions by justifying reality by increasingly aggressive competition and the desire for significant, easy and “at any cost” financial gains.

Even if this “price” consists in damaging the image of that profession and altering the relationship between the one who uses the legal service and the legal professional who offers that service, competition without rules is a reality. In relation to the above assessments, I am referring mainly to legal professions with a liberal profile. The attempt to make this analysis does not take into account those many impeccable and majority professionals, who sincerely suffer and rejoice with enthusiasm for every weakness or success of their profession.

In a project of the Superior Council of Magistracy, implemented for 36 months, starting with 2018, an interesting guide of good practices on the relationship of the judiciary with other legal professions was developed. The mere existence of the guide, which was welcome, confirmed the existence of a substantive problem. The material proposed by the SCM addressed the common principles and values of legal professions, relations between professionals in the exercise of professions, communication between professionals within or outside procedures, as well as many details on the course of those procedures in which lawyers from different professional bodies interact. This guide confirmed to me the existence of the problem already raised, and I admit that I sincerely enjoyed the interinstitutional concern to find and promote a solution.

Trying to identify other concerns in the field, I discovered some research, analyzes and reports that address the topic and even propose some strategies and perspectives. It is worth mentioning appreciatively, in this context, the event organized by the High Court of Cassation and Justice, which in 2022 marked 160 years of collaboration between legal professions. Recalling Cicero, who issued the Latin dictum “Domus iurisconsulti totium oraculum civitatis” (The house of the jurisconsult is the oracle of the whole city), the concern for good collaboration between legal professionals is justified by the need for landmarks and models for society. I believe without any doubt that good interprofessional collaboration is beneficial for each profession and for strengthening the trust of the city in justice and in the legal professional.

I admit that studying this subject, I was overwhelmed by nostalgia for times told by nobles of the legal field, times when judges, lawyers, prosecutors and notaries could make clean and displayed friendships without being accused or suspected of shady intentions. I recalled with pleasure spectacular events I read in novels, short stories, and biographies, in which the professionals listed above demonstrated respect for the profession and justice, making clear distinctions and separating friendship from the need to achieve an act of authentic justice. I wondered what had changed since then and realized that, in fact, the whole society had transformed, become suspicious, aggressive and superficial.

Lawyers are part of this society and live the same troubled and challenging times as all the inhabitants of the city. Understandably, the feelings and tendencies of society are imported into the professions and influence the relationships between their members.

The influence of a superficial company can be a challenge for a professional body, in which context overcoming this influence becomes essential for the usefulness and success of the profession in the long run. By promoting authentic values, diversity, collaboration and continuous professional development, a professional body can create an environment where competence and merit are valued and good results and trust are achieved based on sustainable and ethical approaches.

Returning to the challenges coming from within the legal professions, we discovered an interesting article signed by Lucian Puşcașu, published in 2020, on the semped.ro platform. In this material, the author appreciated that “The leader has among the most important duties in a group. Perhaps the most important of them is the ability to ensure group cohesion and unity. The leader has a duty to dissolve conflicts and disagreements within his group. Thus, he creates a nucleus of unity between all members of the group he cares for.”

Aristotle argued that “most divisions arise in cities because of ambition,” which could acquire positive connotations if these “ambitions” are channeled toward the realization of a common professional goal. Trying to conclude these brief observations, I realized that the source of division is much more complex and the challenges generated by the social context are increasingly difficult to overcome. Starting from the disappearance of entire generations of gracious teachers, highlighting the precarious and often mimicked educational system, continuing with questionable access as a procedure in many legal professions, noting the lack of authentic models, of great masters and there is no strategy of cultivating respect for the profession and colleagues, the long string of causes that contort the city almost makes us believe that the battle is lost.

Fortunately, my disappointment with these findings was banished by meeting many fellow lawyers who burn for their profession, who fight for professional cohesion and who meet all the conditions to become role models for generations of lawyers to come.

In conclusion, trying to avoid the contagious pessimism of George Enescu, who declared: “We have lined ourselves with false models, the model of the man who succeeds easily, who manages, who knows how to make money. We have lost our morality. We have lost our manners and education. We forgot to dress nicely anymore and we no longer behave elegantly. We have lost not the material bourgeoisie, but the bourgeoisie of the spirit, the spiritual nobility… We are far, far from what we once were”, I try my best to keep a dose of optimism, stubbornly focusing on the models that were or on those with whom I still have the chance to be contemporary.

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