Lawyers Get A Bad Rap

Lawyers get a bad rap.  They rank somewhere below congressmen on the scale of most distrusted professionals.  While the profession is sometimes held in low esteem, statistics say that most of us like and respect our personal congressmen and our personal lawyers.  It is one of those uniquely American paradoxes.  I have known several lawyers during my experience in business.  I have never known anyone, lawyer or otherwise, who was more decent to the bone than this one.  Jennifer is a treat.  A real, honest-to-goodness treat for the soul.  She’s brilliant and funny too.   And, can you imagine it, her husband is a lawyer with a clever twist, a huge smile and a delightfully warped sense of humor.  The man is simply a prize.

Jennifer's Professional Photograph

I met this tiny woman with the giant voice and the huge laugh many years ago.   Our business was being sued for copyright infringement and breach of contract.   And, for a lot of money.  Our insurance company contracted with her law firm to handle the case.  Jennifer picked it up.  When we saw her at our first meeting, both my husband and I were smitten.   She and I worked together on this frivolous, harassment lawsuit for nearly two years, I think it was.  Since it involved fairly complicated industry-specific details, I emailed hundreds of pages of documents and information and whining tirades to her.  She never lost her cool.  She kept me sane … well, sort of.

Jennifer (RT) with Paula Poundstone at the Friends of the Library book signing event.

Several years later, we sued a business for a legitimate breach of contract  involving a related industry contract.  By that time, Jennifer had become a dear friend.   We didn’t care about the money.  As my husband said, it was the principle of the thing.  (That sounded a little like faux indignation coming from him, but…)  The lawsuit was settled at arbitration.  Now, that was fun.   She and Dean and I sat at a table outside the wall of windows looking into the arbitration room and drank coffee and joked and had a good time.  Let me tell you, the process is somewhat like a poker game or bidding at auction.  The arbitration lawyer brings an offer to us, and we make a counter demand.  This game of  Blind Man’s Bluff goes back and forth for a good while.  Finally,  when one of us is hungry, we settle.   That was pretty much the way it was.  Later, the guy whom we sued, came by my office to pay up part of the settlement and said he hoped this was the last of the skeletons in his closet.  We parted with a hug and a laugh.  He was a rascal, but he was a charming rascal.

I tell young people this in order to tell them something else.  No matter what you are selling, whether it’s aerobic treatment plants or poetry, the first thing you need is a lawyer.  You need a lawyer even if you are not selling anything.  Lots of people today seek counselling for all sorts of life problems that used to be settled by chance or lived with or not imagined in the first place.  I recommend consulting a good lawyer instead of a counselor for assessing ones life situation and resolving its inevitable problems.  Lawyers are, by personality, education and experience, the best counselors.  They don’t take up the practice of law because they have problems of their own.   They weigh facts, evidence, personalities, motives, and likely outcomes every day.

Lawyers are trained in the practice of finding solutions much as modern psychologists are trained in solutions based therapy.  What is the point in spending years ruminating about why you sweat?  That solves nothing.  Why you sweat is not the problem.  Sweating is the problem, and you want to stop doing it.  Lawyers are mediators too.  They don’t spend years listening to couples list each others faults and unacceptable behaviors.  Instead, they broker deals with people to come to mutually acceptable solutions to problems.  And their rational approach makes them very good at it.

If you are lucky, you will find a lawyer who is smart and one who is also a trusted friend.   I was lucky and blessed too.  I wish you the same good fortune.

13 Comments on “Lawyers Get A Bad Rap

  1. They do get a bad wrap, my best friend is a lawyer and a kind kind soul…..Jennifer looks like a lovely woman.. thanks for sharing her with us!


    • Jennifer is just like your best friend. She’s my best friend too. We’re lucky, I guess.


  2. In Australia, the top three most distrusted professional people are politicians, real estate agents and lawyers. I think in that order. A lot of people are trying to do without real estate agents, would like to do without politicians but can’t do without lawyers.


    • You are correct. We can’t do without them, like it or not. Actually, I have found them to be helpful. I was just now reading about Abraham Lincoln and his cadre of fellow lawyers. It seems that our society is pretty much constructed and maintained by this profession even today.


  3. The Pinkertons have been snooping around and following me for several weeks now. It seems they think I was a conspirator with John Wilkes Booth in that Lincoln incident. Should I get a lawyer?


    • Ah-ha, the Pinkertons, huh? What is it you know about the Lincoln incident? Better give Judge Logan a call. I said “a good lawyer”. You’re too funny, Carl. 🙂


  4. my niece is an attorney in a huge litigation firm in Boston…she has been employed there for 15 months…she makes an obscene amount of money…hates her job and just decided to quit…..go figure….
    I do agree, everyone needs a good, (competent) one.


    • I do think lawyers are paid so much because we have to have them. The trick is to find a good one. I can understand why your niece might hate it. Good for her. Had she stayed, she’d have found herself stuck forever. Now is the time for her to go! I like her. She couldn’t be bought. The profession needs more like her!


  5. I enjoyed reading this. Both my sisters are lawyers, unfortunately I am yet to pay them for all their services. Lawyers really do get a bad rap:). Nice post, thanks for sharing.


    • You are lucky, Boomie! If you don’t like what one lawyer says, you can get a second consult with the other one. All for free! 😉 I think that people don’t understand what lawyers do since the average person has little contact with them. I can’t think of a service that a person needs more than access to a really good lawyer. Few humans can solve disputes among themselves without third party intervention.



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