Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Why People Hate Lawyers

For those of us who have been on this earth for more than a few years, we are sure to be faced with hard decisions that change the directions of our lives. Few of us recognize the importance of these life-changing decisions at the time they arise. For instance, as lawyers, we are confronted with situations where we must choose which way we will function as lawyers.  Will we work for the people who pay us the most, regardless of the underlying principles?  Will we defend that tobacco company if it makes us rich in the process. Will we stomp on the rights of weak and helpless?  Will we sell out for the biggest bucks?  Can we rationalize our decisions?  How will our rationalizations impact on our character, or lack of character, as the case may be. 

I was recently in depositions with older, experienced lawyers, who probably at one time were idealistic young, compassionate people. They probably had great loves and cared deeply about social issues.  But something must have happened to them. Our client was grievously injured and the gaggle of lawyers assigned to represent the various parties seem prone to screaming, arguing and belittling us and our case. I wonder if they just force themselves to eradicate thoughts of our client, for how could anyone see this brave, hard-working, severely injured man and not feel empathy and admiration.  What happens to people when making money, buying that fancy car, insulting others to build ones ego becomes more important than human decency. 

I certainly am not a paragon of virtue. I used to work for the dark side myself, but after awhile, it should become hard. We should examine our motives. We should keep caring and compassion for our fellow humans.  It is sad when someone loses his or her humanness.  

No wonder people don't like lawyers. We like to use our voices just to hear their sound, we bully innocent, less powerful people and we put ourselves and our egos before justice and our clients. 

There are things more important than money, status, and the need to feel important.  Most lawyers started out wanting to do good and be fair.  What happens?  A thousand little decisions.  Go work for the firm that pays the most, make that argument that you don't believe, fudge on the facts so you have a better argument, and, most important of all, throw your compassion out the window.  It sure is tempting when the reward is money and social status.

There are lots of lawyers who hate practicing law and I suspect the main reason for that is because those lawyers do things of which they are not proud.  How sad to be at the end of one's career and still trying to bully witnesses and opposing counsel.  Bullying is certainly not restricted to middle school high jinx. 

Lawyers who hate what they do should leave the practice of law. I am tired of having to deal with them. Good riddance.


  1. Lynne - I tried both sides of the plaintiff/defendant divide, and decided to leave when I didn't like the compromises each side brought. You're absolutely right about the defense perspective; you develop a thick skin about the injuries and a complete belief that all plaintiffs and their attorneys are lying about the facts of the case and the extent of their injuries. Every single one - even if the liability is clear and the injuries obvious, they turned down a reasonable valuation of their case and are seeking an unconscionable amount of money. And so it's okay to be rough and callous toward the greedy grifters.

    But, to be fair, it also happens on the plaintiffs' side. You refer to the "dark side" when those attorneys are merely trying their best to represent their clients effectively in the face of bogus claims and holier-than-thou plaintiffs' attorneys. Perhaps your client does deserve empathy, but perhaps his version of empathy has a couple extra zeroes attached to it than is justified. Perhaps, just perhaps, his lawyer has a blinding ego that interprets disagreement as fudging on the facts and making arguments you don't believe, and is feeding the plaintiff's own greed with dreams of millions and millions of dollars for a case worth thousands. And, yes, perhaps that plaintiff has fudged about the extent of his injuries, concealed a prior related injury, or constructed a fact pattern about how the injury happened that does not quite match up to the reality of the situation.

    Truth is, most successful lawyers on each side live in a black and white world. Their client is right and the other side is a bunch of lying, money-obsessed weasels.

  2. My dislike for lawyers (well certain lawyers, that is) did not develop until I became one. It's been growing ever since. Great post...

  3. It is amazing to see certain people in their roles for their clients. As a "idealistic, young compassionate" attorney, I wonder why some people practice law. Although I know there is a place for defending "Big Tobacco," does that mean each case is defended without regard to the consequences of the disposition of the case? Even so, every entity needs a defense. "The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him." -Proverb.

    Judges face a similar thing. Everytime they write an opinion, they subject themselves to creating an unintended consequence of their opinion. I wonder if they are so single-minded to write an opinion they think is "right" and subject the future of law to unfairness.

  4. Actually, I hate doctors.

    They killed my dad with incompetence. At least lawyers can appeal their mistakes.

    Doctors bury theirs.

  5. Thank you for this post. Clearly you "get it."

    It's tough for lots of people out here and then they run into--whatever--bad doctors or unscrupulous attorneys or whatever. Humans, all.

  6. Here is another reason.