Friday, December 16, 2011

Why Lawyers Should Hate Themselves

My last blog was why people hate lawyers.  I touched on a few reasons why lawyers are reviled.  Since then, I have thought about the many problems with lawyers and our legal system.  Unfortunately, the system needs fixing and lawyers need to take a good look at themselves. 

This is what I propose we need to examine -

1.  Lawyers in it for their ego (and let's be truthful, aren't all trial lawyers, myself included, guilty of an overactive ego).  In the lawyer's mind the case becomes about him or her and less about the client. Some ways you can tell when a lawyer thinks he or she is the bee's knees is when he lawyers reports things like, "in the deposition, I got him to admit...". Every good thing that happens becomes a reflection of the lawyers skill, not the righteousness of the case, the character of the witness, etc.   All trial lawyers do this, me included.

2.  Lawyers more intent on winning a "game" than furthering the case.  For instance, lawyers fighting about where to hold depositions, obstructive objections, nastiness in general. 

3.  Lawyers whose primary concern is lining his or her pocket book.  This goes for both sides.  For the defense attorney, many of whom have boldly told me it was too early to settle a case because they didn't have enough in fees, it is needlessly delaying case.  For the plaintiff's lawyer, it is thinking about the client as a commodity that should turn a profit rather than a human being needing justice.   From the plaintiffs' perspective, you can spot these lawyers when they refer to their case in figures (6 figure case, 7 figure case), etc.

4.  Lawyers so insecure that the only person they are interested in listening to is themselves.   Probably the most important trait for a lawyer is being a good listener, yet lawyers has a whole are the worst bunch of listeners on the face of the planet.  You have to forget about yourself to be a good listener.  The best lawyers are those secure enough to give up being the center of the stage to listen to their clients, the witnesses, and ultimately the jury.  

Lawyers would be well served to, in addition to the annual legal education requirements, take a course on empathy, listening, and humility.  Someone needs to shake us every once in awhile to keep us on track.  We are facilitators of the justice system.  The justice system is not about us.  In fact, a few of us may need more than just a gentle shake.  Perhaps a slap might make us pay attention.  But, that's a battery and would be illegal.   I fear that some of us won't get back on track.  I really, really would like to slap them. Oh, how I would like to slap them.  Yes!  ... Oh, were you saying something?  I wasn't listening.  


  1. Great points, all.

    Here's hoping.

    Oh, and along with the annual education requirements, maybe annual "ethics" requirements, to go along with those and your suggestion of empathy, listening and humility.

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