Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

Do you really think society would be better off with no lawyers?

Asked by wundayatta (58525points) November 16th, 2011

People love to hate on lawyers. They make jokes all the time about different ways of getting rid of lawyers.

What do they really hate about lawyers? Where does this bad reputation come from?

And would you really want to live in a society without lawyers? Would you really want to represent yourself in court? You know, in the Soviet Union, all the lawyers were on the government’s side. That’s what would happen here if there were no lawyers to represent people.

I can’t believe that’s what people want, so please tell me: what is this hatred for lawyers really all about?

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23 Answers

CaptainHarley's avatar

Lawyers are a necessary, evil byproduct of the way society is structured.

wundayatta's avatar

@CaptainHarley Why are they evil?

CaptainHarley's avatar

Because they serve no creative or productive purpose… rather like politicians ( most of whom are lawyers! ). : )

wundayatta's avatar

@CaptainHarley Then why are they necessary if they don’t do anything creative or productive? Seriously—beyond the silliness, what is the beef people have with them?

CaptainHarley's avatar

They control the courts and most political bodies. They write the laws which they then are paid enormous sums to help enforce. They make work for themselves, and they file lawsuits over the most trivial of things.

Blackberry's avatar

Of course not. How would we handle claims? This isn’t “back in the day” where two people went to a king and the king settled the arguments right there at the throne lol.

CaptainHarley's avatar


I am a trained mediator and arbitrator. I use to make my living settling disputes. Lawyers hated it because they thought I was taking business away from them. Claims can be handled very expeditiously via an arbitrator, and the decisions are legally binding under contract law, and the cost is usually less than a tenth of what a lawyer would charge.

blueiiznh's avatar

They are needed. I don’t hate them.
I may not be able to rationalize the fees they charge, but I can’t get insurance to cover the cost of one in the event I need one.
If and when you need one, you however want the best one.

We say we don’ like politicians either, but they are needed. It’s the bad ones or the ones that are in your face that create the bad rap.

CWOTUS's avatar

I think we’d be better off without quite so many, perhaps. We’d be better off with a “loser pays” system that doesn’t reward long shot trials of dubious merit. We’d be better served if lawyers weren’t so much in charge of us.

You wouldn’t want a cabal of engineers running your life, either. Fortunately, you don’t have that.

Blackberry's avatar

@CaptainHarley That’s pretty awesome.

Brian1946's avatar

If the definition of lawyer includes prosecuting attorneys (it does in at least one dictionary that I found), then my answer is definitely no.

Jaxk's avatar

The problem I see is that lawyers do not seek justice. The play to win. That includes lawyers on both sides and criminal as well a civil. Verdicts are a result of who has the best lawyer rather than who is right and who is wrong. We spend more time selecting who we want on the jury than we do presenting our case. We spend more time deciding what evidence should be included/excluded than we do trying the case. All of it, legal maneuvering to skew justice.

You are much more likely to achieve justice through an arbiter (as @CaptainHarley suggests) than through any of the normal legal wrangling, supplied by lawyers. There’s a reason that both lawyers and politicians have a bad reputation. They are both lawyers (generally).

wonderingwhy's avatar

I’d guess it’s less that people hate lawyers directly so much as they hate a system that has become needlessly dependent on them and frequently feel they’re being taken advantage of because of it. A system of law so complex that it requires lawyers if one wants “a fair shake” doesn’t really beget much appreciation.

Although ambulance chasers and others who effectively turn something that could be settled between two people into a legal matter certainly don’t engender any praise for the profession either.

Then there’s the perception of many lawyers being “dirty” based on who or what they defend. And as @Jaxk said, the idea that it’s not about what’s right, it’s about winning. Oh and let’s not forget the stigma of pure greed that so often comes along with their profession. Of course none of that applies in all cases, maybe not even the majority of them, but all it takes is a few bad ones, some inscrutability, and the appearance of such negatives and their you have it.

Would we be better of without them? Not the way we’ve structured society (and I’d be curious to watch the legal battles of trying to restructure society to not need to rely on them). But then a society where lawyers were not necessary – or at least minimally so – could be quite nice.

cazzie's avatar

Is there any other culture, besides the in the US, where lawyers are as loathed? Where I live now, there is not that attitude, nor in another country I lived in besides the US.

I think these dupes are working in a sick system.

cookieman's avatar

I certainly hope not as my wife is one.

Although, she’s not currently practicing – so maybe she’ll continue to exist.

mazingerz88's avatar

@Blackberry I see @CaptainHarley‘s point but what if it’s two huge corporations with a complex case that needs arbitration? It seems this lawyer discussion is heading towards shallow generalizations.

MilkyWay's avatar

Do you really think society would be better off with no lawyers?
No. I think they’re a very important part of society.

Ela's avatar

My sister is a public defender. I have listened to hours of crap she has had to put up with over the years. I think it takes an extremely intelligent, open minded, non judgmental and incredibly amazing person to be a lawyer.

jca's avatar

If you have ever been wronged and needed the assistance of a lawyer to handle a dispute or to sue someone, you would realize lawyers can be very helpful. Having a lawyer would mean you would have a knowledgeable person who could advise you of your rights and who could advocate for you.

CaptainHarley's avatar


In my experience, the people who hire lawyers instead of seeking arbitration are generally going for the money. Of course this would only be applicable to cases where settlements were at stake.

bkcunningham's avatar

Of course not.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Hell no. I love a good lawyer.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

People hate lawyers because John Q can’t afford the lawyer to get the justice he feels he should get. He envy the wealthy who can have a team of attorneys and hardly get wronged. Everyone hates a lawyer until they need one, then they want he/or she to be a real anal SOB in court, and come out the victor.

There is no way that US society can get by without attorneys. We, as a society were too lazy to be bothered with such rules and details, so we left it up to legislators, most of whom or lawyers, to set the path of society. They wrote it in the language of legalese. Like an engineer, they have their own jargon, standards, etc. John Q doesn’t know it. So the same as he has to get an electrician to read the schematic on his house plan before he knocks out that wall to add the nursery, he needs a layer to interpret what was really in that contract, and what it means. John Q could care less the legality of if the developer wanting to put in the shopping center has more right to do so over the Native Americans who say part of that center is on their ancestral burial ground. They are not losing anything, they are not Native American. Since they are too busy to get involved, there is where the lawyers come in.

I could not find it in time, but I seen online where it said that if you lived in the US, you had a I in 4–7 chance of dealing with a lawyer in your lifetime, either as a plaintiff, or as a defendant. You more than likely will need an lawyer somewhere down the road. As an associate with Legal Shield, anyone who can afford a large combination pizza can have access to an attorney. In my 1st month using the service I received more than 10 times the dollar amount back in service than my membership cost. If you are going to pay for a surgery you do not need today and might never have, or an accident you hope you never have, why not for an attorney you can use right now?

Doctors are expensive, we don’t hate them. Pharmaceutical companies people love to hate, but they love the meds. I guess when an insurance company, someone else people try to hate, pays for it, you can blame the high cost of the surgery on the insurance company or the malpractice lawyers and not on the doctor.

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