Social Question

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Why do most people hate lawyers when they don't have need of one?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (21138 points ) July 20th, 2010

Why is it people want to hate lawyers when they don’t need one, referring to them as ambulance chasing, blood sucking soulless vampires, etc? People love to hate lawyers when they don’t need one but when they do they want the best lawyer around even if they can’t afford him/her, and want that person to be a regular prick, a pit bull in court, someone with ice water running through their veins. Lawyers get paid what they get paid because we the people decided to allow politicians most of which were lawyers to set up the rules governing society in language only lawyers can understand so when legal issues come up we have to hire them to interpret what our rights or benefits are. I don’t know many people who would want to go into court representing themselves if they don’t have to.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

20 Answers

judochop's avatar

I think of lawyers the same way I think of most big business. Their intentions may start off good but the end result is all about the money.

cookieman's avatar

Because, in most cases, the need for an attorney derives from a very personal and sometimes embarrassing reason.

Regardless of what side of the law you’re on, it’s rarely pleasant to be dragged in front of a judge and/or jury to air your dirty laundry.

Even something as simple as creating a will can involve very personal information. And let’s not even get into the ugliness of divorce.

For all these things you likely will need the help of an attorney. You may even be facing an attorney. And in the middle of this very personal and difficult situation for you, the attorney is making (lots of) money off of you and, frankly, your case is just another job to them (similar to doctors, attorneys often have to be emotionally detached).

So here you are going through this mildly-annoying to hugely embarrassing-life altering situation and the one person who is equipped to help you and making money from your displeasure and doesn’t seem to care too much. Add to that that their “job” appears to consist of pushing papers, filing motions and occasionally getting up and making an argument, and it doesn’t always seem worth it – especially if you lose (which, let’s face it, you’ve got a 50/50 chance going in).

Add this all up together and you’ve got frustration and even some disdain all heaped upon the one person trying to help you.

And, as with any profession, you’ve got the less-than-competent scumbags who give a bad name to the rest of them.

Meanwhile, you’ve got this ridiculously convoluted system of laws that attorneys spend years in school learning to navigate and must constantly be up on as they change often. They’re likely sitting on 50 to 100-thousand in student loans to cover the cost of their 8+ years of higher education and the cost of taking the bar exam in each State they wish to practice in (yes, they charge you to take the bar). With that in mind, of course attorneys are gonna charge you $100 to $200/hour.

But we also complain when the plumber charges us $100 just to walk in the door to fix our burst pipe. Or the auto mechanic, or electrician, or…

Ultimately we find ourselves paying for a highly specialized service in a very convoluted system during a very difficult time in our lives – and we don’t like it one bit. Attorneys are simply the easy target.

Full Disclosure: My wife is a law school graduate.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Don’t take this serious all you lawyers: I hate dog crap on the bottom of my shoes and no, I don’t need a reason why. Just do.

Your_Majesty's avatar

I like lawyers,especially the ‘dirty’ one. I believe hypocrisy is among those who hate lawyer without any rational reason.

john65pennington's avatar

Many, not all, criminal attorneys are sometimes just as bad as the people they represent. if their client tells them they are guilty, it has to have some bearing on the attorney. at least on the good ones. i suspected this one attorney was really a criminal. i set up surveillance on him 24/7. he did not live in my city, by rather an adjoining town. one night, this attorney had accepted a color television as a down payment to represent a person i had arrested on a criminal charge. i followed this attorney to his home and observed him take the color television out of his pu truck and take it inside his home. i knew the television was stolen and had the report in my hand. i took plenty of photographs of the entire incident. i secured a search warrant and searched his house. the stolen television was located in his garage. he was placed under arrest. his attorneys license was revoked and he served one year and a day for concealing stolen property. this man was not an ambulance chaser, he was even worse. he gave good attorneys a bad name.

CMaz's avatar

I hate them even when I need one.

josie's avatar

As the Bard said “The first thing we’ll do is kill all the lawyers” Henry VI, act 4 scene II
It has been going on for quite some time.

perspicacious's avatar

Many attorneys do great work. Some of us work to protect children and seniors, help couples adopt children, fight against unfair evictions, and work to protect civil rights. I agree with John that people hearing the bad stories created the household phrase, “I hate lawyers.”

Pandora's avatar

Lawyers often put themselves in a bad position because of their clients. A defense attorney may be hated because they often have to represent evil people. They may not like it but they will be assigned to defend people they may even find offensive. For the case not to be overturned they have to defend these people to the best of their abilities. Even if it means they are able to get crucial evidence thrown out of court because it was obtained illegally.

Then there are those who will just do things for the money. Not really caring that they are defending scum.

Then there are those who don’t really care and do a hack job. They just want the pay check and don’t care if their innocent client goes to jail.

Then there are those few prosecutors who only care about a conviction rate and do underhanded things to make innocent people look guilty because they already have somebody in custody and its better to convict the one you got than come up empty.

And of course there are the ambulance chasers who like to convince people its ok to sue big companies for their own stupidity. (ex. the woman who sued for burning her lap with really hot coffee after she placed the coffee in between her legs while driving)
You think no big deal. But then where does the money come from? Now the company will increase prices to make up for money lost.
Win or loose some of these cases the court still has to be maintained by the public in taxes.
Lets tie up our court system with stupid law suits.

I’m sure there are good lawyers but so many are about the money and not the TRUTH. So it becomes difficult to admire a profession where they are only as honest as the dollar bill in their hands. To often they learn to twist the truth to fit their own needs and the truth goes out the window.

That said. If I ever needed a lawyer, you can bet it will be a sneaky bastard that I would look for.
The nice ones get eaten alive.

evandad's avatar

They’re kind of like cops. They both are necessary, but coming in contact with them usually costs you money.

tranquilsea's avatar

I’ve needed a lawyer twice in my life. They were both upstanding individuals who really cared about and fought hard for their clients.

As with any walk of life, the bad ones give the good ones a bad rap.

Linda_Owl's avatar

Most people who dislike ‘lawyers’ (in the abstract) is because they represent a situation that one can rarely handle by oneself. Our laws have become so intricate & deliberately obtuse – that it takes a lawyer to make any sense out of them. If you need a lawyer & you do not have the money to hire one, then you are usually SOL. The average person cannot afford to hire a lawyer & knowing that you need one & knowing that you cannot afford to hire one is the basic reason that lawyers are disliked. (that & the fact that so many of them are so willing to get involved in lawsuits that make absolutely no sense)

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Doctor_D would have tried to go to law school after high school. There are bad lawyers as there are bad doctors but it is something needed.

Pandora ” And of course there are the ambulance chasers who like to convince people its ok to sue big companies for their own stupidity. (ex. the woman who sued for burning her lap with really hot coffee after she placed the coffee in between her legs while driving)” But it is juries that allow these stupid people to be stupid; society would rather reward a stupid person than to appear to let big business seem to “get away” with something because of the nasty taste big business leaves in the mouth of most people.

” So it becomes difficult to admire a profession where they are only as honest as the dollar bill in their hands.” And there are doctors who are just like that, they can see a person suffering with an infliction but if they don’t have the insurance to cover it they won’t whip out their stethoscope for even a second.

meatheadbox's avatar

One loves himself/herself way to much to accept his/her downfall (law trouble), therefore, the consistency of one’s principles (lawyers being bad) are transformed the minute his/her life is threatened in any matter (law trouble = possible long-term jail) & now with the new revolutionized axioms(lawyers being good) due to love/fear for oneself, decedent services (corrupt lawyers) are now justified.

meagan's avatar

If it makes any difference, I dated a Lawyer and he was an absolutely terrible person.
The only good thing I got out of that was always knowing he’d be there for me if I had any legal problems.

I think they’re just like all people. Some bad eggs just make everyone look bad.

anartist's avatar

Because lawyers earn good money, often from people who don’t earn good money and are in a jam, and because a lawyer can win a case through sophistries that often have little to do with justice.
I personally very much admire a lawyer whom I may spend the rest of my life paying off.

iamthemob's avatar

I think Linda_Owl touched on an important point – Lawyers (with a capital “L”) have come to represent the growing class gap. Because lawyers generally cost a lot, whether you can afford it comes into question. However, the wealthy can always afford lawyers, and can afford the best of them. Basically, this feels like if you have money, then you can buy the right to do whatever you want to me. I picture the Declaration of Independence, 2d ed.: “All men are created equal, and are endowed by their creator with certain rights, inalienable until violated by someone with more wealth than they, unless able to purchase the services of a lawyer to retrieve these rights.”

I would also propose that those who’ve experienced working with a lawyer might hate them because they can’t really assess if good work was done efficiently. If they win, is it because the case was good or the lawyer? If not , why did the lawyer put in all these hours to do nothing?

The frustration at the lack of transparency, though, is a two-way street. How many clients have cut lawyers off as they were trying to explain how or why something was going on because the client didn’t want to pay to understand…they just want the lawyer to “Do it.”

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@iamthemob Maybe people should have taken more detail in laws as they were being wrote to insist that they not be complicated to understand and easy for anyone with a 6th grade education to understand; that seems how most instructions are written.

iamthemob's avatar

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to be as clear as that in all occasions.

First, U.S. codified law has been written at various times over a period of over 200 years, and was based on a history hundreds of years older than that.

Second, the U.S. is a common law system, which means in general the courts are responsible for interpreting what the law means. They will only do this when a case is brought before them, and occasionally different courts will disagree as to an interpretation of the laws. If the difference is important enough, it may get resolved by a Supreme Court ruling – but the Court will only be able to interpret based on the facts before it, and is conservative in making pronouncements on what the law is that don’t really have an effect on the parties before it. Laws are not written clearly often because we have this system to try to clarify the intent of the laws, because governments can’t anticipate every situation that might arise when a certain wrong is committed. Because of the common law system, the law may have gaps and conflicts.

Third, because we have a federal system, the national government governs certain areas of the law (e.g., immigration) and the states govern other areas (e.g., family law), and in some areas there is significant overlap (e.g., criminal law). So their may be uncertainty at times whether one or the other law governs, or whether they conflict, etc. Further, state laws must meet the fundamental rights requirements under the Federal Constitution, and sometimes it isn’t clear that it may not meet such standards until the perfect set of facts comes along. Also, in cases where both state and federal law is implicated, there may be conflict about whether the claim should be sent to the federal or the state court. And when the decision is made, one state may interpret a federal law differently than another, and a federal court may be called on to determine what a state court would do in the given situation (and may decide incorrectly). These interactions call into question what a law means all the time.

Fourth, law is also interpreted by regulatory parties, and some times a party has to go through the administrative system prior to getting access to the courts. These administrative cases are governed by the appropriate federal agency (e.g., the EEOC for employment discrimination issues). The agency may interpret the law much like the courts if the law appears to be unclear on a certain point (e.g., what does “significant harm” mean?). The agency interpretation may in some cases be questioned in the court. Therefore, there may be a question there.

Fifth, as we interact more with other nations, we take into account the applicability of those nations laws.

Sixth, the law is constantly changing. Cases which seem like they offer a clear interpretation of the law need to be checked to see if they represent the state of the law today. This built-in flexibility breeds uncertainty, but allows us to remedy errors in the law with arguably relative ease. Easy and clear laws require some measure of permanence – if those laws end up being harmful because of unintended consequences or outdated considerations, such measure of permanence would most likely make them difficult to redraft.

Seventh, the areas of law interact with each other. Something that is a crime also may also have civil liability. If someone is charged with negligent manslaughter and brought before a criminal court, the jury has to be (theoretically) absolutely sure that the person is guilty in order to convict. If that person is brought up on civil charges for money damages related to the death, that jury only needs to be more certain than not that the person is guilty of the crime. Something allowed under property laws may be a civil rights violation, a provision suitable under contract law may violate family law. Each case may help to clarify what happens in these situations – but until it does lawyers have to interpret.

Eighth, there’s a very human element to consider. I’ll only speak to juries, but you have to rely on those people getting the law right and not being swayed by irrelevant factors. Many times, you fail. When that happens, a result may seem like it makes little sense when one reads the law. However, because the people are the gatekeepers on that level, their input adds another layer of uncertainty.

I’ll stop there…but I hope that provides at least some explanation as to why, although nice in theory, laws can’t really be written with the clarity most (including lawyers) would like. I’m not saying drafters can’t do a better job than now, but law is a process, not an object. For the most part, I’ll take the uncertainty as a trade off for a more humane system (e.g., I’m glad we no longer legally sterilize people varying level of mental retardation).

VS's avatar

As the daughter of a lawyer and as someone who works for the court system and is in direct contact every day with attorneys, judges, prosecutors, attorneys general, and other upholders of law and order, in my perhaps biased opinion, I believe that there are more good ones than bad ones. There are a few really great ones who know the law inside and out, are honest, do more than their share of pro bono work, and whose ultimate objective is the struggle towards justice. I feel certain that there are just as many bad actors, bad waitresses, bad car salesmen, bad plumbers, or bad doctors. When you have need of a lawyer, its a good idea to shop around. Get recommendations from some satisfied clients.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther