LEGAL ETHICS AND CANADA’S MILITARY LAWYERS
Keywords:Military lawyers, Legal ethics, Legal officers, Professional conduct, ethical obligations, Minister of Justice, Canadian Forces, lawyers
Military lawyers—lawyers who are legal officers in the Canadian Forces—are virtually ignored in the Canadian legal literature. This article assesses what appear to be the most striking potential legal ethics issues facing military lawyers. Several of these issues arise because military lawyers are both lawyers and military officers at the same time, and therefore face two sets of obligations that interact in complex ways. Some issues, however, arise because of the special practice contexts of military lawyers, for example, advising military commanders on the law of armed conflict.
As context for this discussion, the article examines the relationship and tension between the Judge Advocate General and the Minister of Justice. It concludes with recommendations for amendments to the rules of professional conduct and the legislation governing the Canadian Forces to resolve these ethical issues. The article also proposes legislative amendments to clarify the relationship, and reduce the tension, between the Judge Advocate General and the Minister of Justice.