The biggest misconception about lawyers is, unfortunately, well deserved and has been earned by too many attorneys: That we’re a bunch of money grubbing leaches on society. It is not just that the job of any attorney is to represent a client’s interests as vigorously as possible makes us the enemy of our opponent. It is not just that in a civilized society attorneys are the ones that do battle for our clients and are therefore we are the most visible representatives of disputes that may lead to expensive litigation. It is that too many lawyers do too little to show the other side of what we do. The importance of attorneys in a civil societies disputes is not made known.
I’ll speak for personal injury attorneys, for that is what I do and have done for 40 years. I, and most of my colleagues work extremely hard. We work for the underdog in these fights. We engage in battles for the weak against the strong. We don’t always win, but we are willing to stand up for our clients who deserve our representation. It is not always about the money, though that’s not to say that money is unimportant, and that is a misconception. I (we) do what we do because of our sense of fairness and justice. Getting a fair deal for a deserving client in the face of overwhelming opposition is immensely satisfying.
A further misconception is that our clients are just looking for an undeserved jackpot. My clients, each and every one of them, would trade every penny of a settlement or judgment if they could get back their health and sense of well being they lost in the motor vehicle collision, fire, vicious dog bite, tumble down broken stairs or fallen power pole. [These are all real-life examples of events that have seriously injured my clients.] If you have never experienced a personal loss due to the carelessness of another person, it is hard to understand how bad and overwhelming it can be to have disabling injuries, disfigurement, impairment in your ability to work or engage in activities of daily living. The belief that most injury claims are frivolous and most claimants are undeserving is also a huge misconception.
Lawyers need to do far more to show the good that they do; give back more to our communities; make legal services available to anyone who needs them regardless of ability to pay; and to lead more in the fields of charity, promotion of the common good and perform selfless acts that benefit others. There are plenty of opportunities to do all of this.