I know in Australia, England and Wales, Cab Rank Rule applies to barristers. BUT "Solicitors are generally free to decline to represent whoever they like. They don’t have to give reasons or enter discussions about why, but the reasons are likely to involve some or all of the issues above."
In Queensland, the solicitors’ branch of the profession is governed by the Australian Solicitors Conduct Rules 2012 ('ASCR') which does not include provision for the cab-rank rule. Solicitors are free to accept or reject matters without consideration as to the constraints of the rule.
If you have Cab Rank Rule for barristers, why not have one for solicitors? Don't reasons for Cab Rank Rule barristers equally support a Cab Rank Rule for solicitors?
Principally, to abolish the cab-rank rule carries more disadvantages than advantages, for example barristers [doesn't this apply to solicitors too?] may be more tempted to take on cases in favour of more lucrative privately funded instructions with greater financial reward, leaving smaller cases with no representation. It is incredibly important to remember that the Human Rights Act 1998 emphasises the significance of the cab-rank rule as it enforces the rights of an individual to receive representation and ensure a fair trial. Therefore, by abolishing the rule, the legal justice system may not be able to deliver fair and free trials. It may be on the basis that the money you pay, buys justice, and those who may not have that financial security or receive legal aid are instead shunned.
A core rationale for the rule was a bid to prevent barristers [doesn't this apply to solicitors too?] from shunning legally aided cases in favour of more lucrative privately funded instructions. It was also designed to stop barristers from closing the door on work on the grounds that they didn’t fancy the cut of a certain client’s jib or the unpleasant activity in which a client has allegedly been involved.
But for at least the last two decades, grumbling abounded that the cab rank rule was honoured more in the breach than in observance. Critics suggest that chambers’ clerks were adept at concocting plausible excuses as to why Mr or Ms So and So was sadly unavailable for that legally aided GBH trial, while very happily prepared to devote hours to pre-trial prep for a privately funded white collar fraud defence.
Many of the young lawyers I approached were sympathetic and forthright, even admitting that they were ashamed to have to turn me down. They explained that they dared not take my case because they feared the professional and social sanctions that would certainly result. Some cited conflicts of interest involving past colleagues and law firms, while others explained that they regularly receive work from the large Bay Street firms, and could not afford to jeopardize that source of business.
A surprising number of lawyers told me that it was their firm’s policy not to litigate against lawyers, or to bring motions or evidence that would harm the careers of other lawyers. (“Yes, Mr. Best, the lawyers lied to the judge to convict you, but our firm simply does not handle this type of case.”)