I have always said that attorneys are their own worst enemies. Why? Arrogance, greed, ego, controversy, etc.
However, whenever you hear a significant news story you can bet there is a lawyer somewhere around that story. Take for example, O.J. Simpson’s multiple trials, the bankruptcy of Circuit City, McDonalds’ spilled coffee, disputed elections such as Proposition 8, and on and on. While attorneys are crucial to societal maintenance they often cause more disruption than repair.
Despite all the negatives about lawyers, when we get ourselves in trouble, the person we want by our side is our lawyer protecting us and representing our interests. So why do we love to hate the lawyers, but at the same time, we rely on them when we get in trouble?
The Court of Popular Opinion
In 2002, the Litigation Section of the American Bar Association surveyed 450 people to find out what they thought of lawyers. There were four positives expressed: (1) they are knowledgeable about the law; (2) personal experience with a lawyer supports a positive opinion; (3) they work hard for their cases, and (4) they believe that a career in the law is a respectable profession.
Offsetting the positive, the survey found that people considered attorneys greedy, manipulative, and corrupt. Further, people claim that their attorneys charge too much, overpromise and underperform, take too long to solve their problems and fail to properly police themselves.
The lawyers’ favorable rating was only 19%; compare this rating to doctors who had a 50% positive rating.
Let’s Fix This
I find the fact that lawyers have such a poor image reprehensible. However, it has been earned. How can this earned image be improved? There is only one way: one lawyer at a time. So, let me start.
- First, we will continue to improve communications with our clients. Returned calls and updates are essential.
- Second, we want you to fully understand your legal fees obligation, either the hourly fee or contingency basis.
- Third, we will educate our staff and clients regarding proper lawyer-client relations.
- Forth, we will promote public service and community involvement.
- Fifth, we will make sure our advertising and marketing is respectable to the profession and accurate in all respects.
As we handle a case, we will ask you to evaluate our service and let us know how we can improve our service. After all, the best compliment is the one that comes from your referral. If my staff and I have earned your respect, we did our job. Thanks for letting us be there.