Why people hate lawyers and why you shouldn’t care


why people hate lawyersIn my recent post, “Why don’t people trust lawyers and does it really matter?” I concluded that not only doesn’t it matter that people don’t trust lawyers, it’s actually a good thing.

It’s good for clients because it makes them more careful when hiring an attorney. They ask more questions. They don’t blindly follow. Caveat emptor.

It’s good for attorneys because it allows us to stand out from the crowd by showing how we are different, how we can be trusted, and with a little effort, this is not difficult to do.

But not only do people not trust lawyers, they also hate lawyers. Attorney Suzanne Meehle presents ten “bad lawyer” stereotypes that make people hate lawyers.

Ambulance chasers, unethical lawyers, a**holes, incompetents, and so on.

Some of these stereotypes are worse than others. The “24/7 Lawyer,” the workaholic on a path to burnout, doesn’t belong in the same category as the dishonest lawyer. I don’t think people hate lawyers merely because they work too hard. But we all get the point: there are plenty of examples of bad lawyers who give the rest of us a bad name.

I say this is a good thing. Why? Because stereotypes are almost always exaggerated depictions of real life, making it even easier to show people that you’re “not like that”.

If a lot of people don’t like lawyers because they perceive them to be bullies, for example, don’t be a bully. If they hate lawyers because they think we are unethical, go out of your way to display words and deeds consistent with the highest ethical standards.

I don’t particularly enjoy meeting people who, within the first minutes, feel compelled to tell me they, “don’t like lawyers”. But that’s the way it is and I do enjoy the challenge of winning them over.

In sales, it is said that the best prospects are often the ones who offer the most resistance. These prospects know they are naturally an “easy sale” and so to protect themselves from getting taken advantage of, they put up an outer wall. They may be surly and unpleasant, overly suspicious and overly demanding. The best sales people understand this and when they encounter a prospect who “protests too much,” shower them with kindness and patiently wait for them to “drop their shields”. The result is often a sale and a lifelong customer and advocate.

Don’t try to argue away the stereotypes. Acknowledge them. There are a lot of bad eggs out there and people do have to be careful. With a little common sense, you can easily distance yourself from this crowd and show you are one of the good guys. When you do, you’ll find people hiring you, in some cases simply because you’re not what they expected.



  1. David- I take the public perception as a challenge. I tell the client that by the time we’re done with his or her case, they are going to tell all the family and friends about what a great experience they had with our firm. I ask them to hold me to this as the case makes its way through the court system. It keeps things interesting and keeps me focused on delivering the best service possible. Some cases and some clients are more challenging than others but if your goal is to provide more than you promise and even better, you walk your talk and do so, then good things will happen for everyone involved. Mitch

    • I like this, Mitch. Not only are you asking clients to hold you accountable, you’re telling them what is expected of them when you pass the test. You can go back to them at the end of the case, ask, “how did I do?” and remind them of their “agreement” to spread the word.


  2. If you pursue an unjust cause for cash then you are scum. A lot of lawyers do just this. Therefore, a lot of lawyers are indeed scum.

  3. It’s the 80/20 rule. 80% of you guys are scummy and the other 20% are extreemely impressive men with integrity! I am just saying, people really don’t like lawyers at all because of the 80%! It seems like a large concentration of scumbags are in LA, NY, Chicago, with dribbles elsewhere. The good lawyers fighting the good fight seem to be in middle America and in the heartland. Just being real. Let me site the reasons and please pass this arround to discuss:

    42 Reasons Why I Hate Lawyers
    by Jim Olsztynski

    Wait’ll you hear about the lawyer who billed a client for
    the time spent having sex together!

    1) Because University of Texas finance professor Stephen
    Magee has calculated that each U.S. lawyer drains the economy
    of an average of $1 million a year in productivity.

    2) Because the U.S. harbored 748,028 creatures of the bar as
    of 1990, according to the American Bar Association.

    3) Because if Magee is right, those leeches now suck some
    three-quarters of a trillion dollars out of our economy annually.

    4) Because the emotional turmoil caused by all those lawyers
    is every bit as costly as the economic toll.

    5) Because the ABA expects there to be, ouch, a million lawyers
    by 2000.

    6) Because the U.S. had one lawyer for every 350 people, while in
    Japan it’s only one for every 9,000.

    7) Because most lawyers are very smart people who would have
    made superb teachers, engineers, craftsmen, etc., had they only
    decided to be productive members of society.

    8) Because there is no limit to the lies, deceit and character
    assassination that can be rationalized by a lawyer under the
    excuse of zealously representing a client’s interests.

    9) Because those are the best tactics to use when the client is
    a scumbag.

    10) Because it is possible to use plain English and still achieve
    the precision required for unambiguous laws. Lawyers torture our
    magnificent language merely to differentiate them from us.

    11) Because lawyers casually toss around Latin terms memorized
    by rote, but how many have ever learned to decline a Latin noun?

    12) Because the bar always lobbies to squash legal reforms.

    13) Because the bar always wins.

    14) Because when a lawyer achieves success, it usually means
    that someone else got shafted.

    15) Because most politicians come from the ranks of lawyers.

    16) Because lawyers bill by the house and they keep track of the time.

    17) Because lawyers appeal to our worst instincts.

    18) Because rampant litigation has given rise to de facto tyranny
    as people hesitate to speak their minds or engage in innocent activities
    that may leave them vulnerable to a lawsuit.

    19) Because the ACLU should take an interest in this but instead
    spends most of its time these days championing causes that are
    ridiculous or offensive.

    20) Because what reason is there not to file frivolous lawsuit if
    an attorney is willing to work on contingency?

    21) Because there are an estimated 6 million laws on the books
    in this country — yet only 10 Commandments.

    22) Because I’m from Chicago, home of the best justice money can buy.

    23) Because the “Operation Greylord” federal investigation of Chicago
    courts during the 1980s ended with bribery convictions of dozens of
    judges and lawyers.

    24) Because anyone familiar with Chicago courts knows that Greylord
    nailed only a fraction of the offenders.

    25) Because a lawyer in Illinois was found to have billed a divorce
    client for time spent having sex with her! (An Appellate Court made
    him refund that part of the fee.)

    26) Because that same lawyer as later appointed to the Illinois
    Supreme Court’s Committee on Character and Fitness!!

    27) Because the Client’s Security Fund, set up by the Illinois and
    Chicago bar associations to provide up to $10,000 in compensation
    to people defrauded by their lawyers, went broke from paying out

    28) Because lawyers react like vampires to a crucifix whenever it’s
    suggested their profession ought to be policed by outsiders.

    29) Because “psychic stress” is one of the hottest new grounds
    for litigation.

    30) Because these “victimization” gambits have turned us into a
    nation of whining neurotics.

    31) Because when New York’s CEO Club sponsored its
    “Honest Lawyer Contest” last year, no attorneys qualified.

    32) Because it was a serious contest.

    33) Because they extended the contest deadline from July 1
    to October 31, and still couldn’t find a winner!

    34) Because lawyer’s professional ethics say nothing about
    right and wrong, fairness and unfairness, justice and injustice
    — only about striving to win.

    35) Because as a result, the best lawyers get hired by the worst

    36) Because the legal profession regards such amorality as a
    lofty principle.

    37) Because lawyers are as responsible as anyone for the
    worker’s comp problems described on page 48.

    38) Because lawyers are responsible as anyone for our nation’s
    economic problems.

    39) Because malpractice is at least as common in law as in
    medicine but far fewer perpetrators ever get called to account.

    40) Because I’m sick of seeing vanity license plates with some
    variation of LWYR or ATTRNY or CNSLR.

    41) Because it takes monumental gall to brag about it.

    42) Because I feel guilty about a youthful indiscretion that had
    me considering law school after I scored in the 90th percentile
    on the LSAT. In the end I decided to earn an honest living.

    Do not think for a moment that I have run out of reasons.
    I merely ran out of room.


    • Joe- Here’s my list of how California consumer attorneys have helped the public over the past 50 years and I’m very proud to be a part of it. By the way, not a single item on your list is accurate or properly placed within the right context. I’m proud to be a lawyer and I’m proud to be able to help others who can’t or don’t know how to protect themselves. By the way, I too could keep “giving reasons” but frankly, I’ve got to get ready for trial tomorrow morning. A client of mine was hit by a drunk driver who ran a red light. She will be fighting very serious injuries for the rest of her life. She can no longer walk without a bad limp and severe pain. Her right hand and arm do not function properly. Her head injuries prevent her from remembering what she did last week and last month. But, if it’s OK with you, I’m going to do what I can to help her put her life back together and to hold the reckless driver accountable for his wrongful conduct. Is that OK with you? Here’s my list.. http://jacksonandwilson.com/aaj-members/

    • joe said it best says

      Lawyers are always rated near the bottom of the list of professions with the highest ethical standards. No surprise there. The greedy, lying, scumbags only care about how much money they can extort from the honest people. Makes one laugh as the ambulance chasers go on and on about serving justice when they only take cases that

    • joe said it best says

      Just have to laugh when a sleazy ambulance chaser talks about seeking “justice” during or after a lawsuit. Only time these professional extortionists will take a case is when the defendants actually have money, insurance co, business etc. They wont touch anything else. Professional extortion plain and simply

      • Do you expect lawyers to work for free? It’s annoying when a client feels entilted to free legal work. Why should I care that you have a legal problem if you can’t pay me? Do you do your work for free when clients come or do you do any free work for your employer?

  4. Standing out as a lawyer in an industry that is filled with bad eggs means you would get a lot of trust and respect. There are plenty of bad eggs in every industry, therefore earning the trust of your customers is a good way to build a strong brand.

    • legalized extortion says

      My buddy is a cop/ soldier who was got sued by a scumbag lawyer for an incident that happened while he was on cop patrol in his hometown. He first found out about the lawsuit while he was deployed in Iraq. As if he didn’t have enough to worry about with the bombs, and enemy snipers now he has a frivolous lawsuit to contend with. The issue? The scumbag lawyer contended my friend didnt stop a speeding/stolen car SOON enough to prevent it from crashing into his two criminal Chicago “clients”. He was sued for “fail to act”. The scumbag, lawyer even got hold of his high school transcripts during discovery. Too had the scumbag lawyer had the wrong transcripts! Same name, different person! The big , fat extortionist couldn’t even clean the food stains off his tie before going out in public. Long story short. His career criminal “clients” actually survived their bo-boos and had to drop the extortion attempt because they were locked up in various I’ll prisons. My hero friend takes it all in stride. No animosity and won’t even tell me the name of the scumbag lawyer. So if any lawyers out there could help me to identify the ass lawyer, let me know. Description of the scumbag lawyer is this: big,fat, stupid, unshaven, bo (bigtime) and breath that would gag a maggot. Thanks

      • hedron collider says

        Too bad so many good people have been victims of these crooks. Don’t ever think lawmakers will ever take tort reform seriously, after all they’re lawyers too!
        Remember kids…. You can be a convicted pedophile and still be a lawyer…

  5. Who was the ambulance chaser that sued the Asian dry cleaner for MILLIONS for losing a pair of pants??? Haa …! Why is this even allowed? ! Pos!