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.


Lawyer marketing 101: the basics of getting articles published


Getting exposure via published articles has long been a marketing mainstay for lawyers. In the age of the Internet, there are even more opportunities than ever as the need for quality content has multiplied.

Many books have been written on writing and publishing articles. If you are serious about promoting your practice this way, I recommend reading a few books and learning to do it right.

The basics of getting published never change. The first step is to identify those publications that are a suitable outlet for your articles. Offline, the venerable “Writers Market” (from Writer’s Digest) lists thousands of magazines and newspapers that accept outside submissions.

Online, numerous directories list electronic newsletters and web sites that accept articles. Go to any search engine and type in and you’ll find thousands of ezines and the directories that list them.

Once you have determined which publications you are interested in, the next step is to obtain their “writers’ guidelines”. This is a description of the kinds of articles they want, how many words, the rights they purchase (i.e., “first publication”), and the procedure for submitting the article for consideration.

You’ll probably find writers’ guidelines on the publication’s web site. If not, contact the editor and ask if they accept articles and if so, what they are looking for.

Once you know the guidelines, the next step is the “query”. Some publications want you to submit your article idea in outline form, along with a sample of your other writing, some publications want to see the whole article first. Whatever the guidelines, your query needs to sell the editor on three things:

  1. Why their readers would want to read your article
  2. Your credentials for writing it
  3. Your ability to write it

Your query letter should be well written and to the point. It should demonstrate that the article you propose will be relevant to their readership and interesting to read. Editors read hundreds of queries and sort through them quickly; if you want to be considered, you need to get their attention and immediately make them see the value in your article.

Getting the first article accepted is the hardest. Once you have built up a list of publications that have accepted your work, you should find yourself getting published more frequently. Until then, don’t assume that being a lawyer is enough of a pedigree to be accepted for publication. Actually, being a lawyer could work against you. If an editor assumes you “write like a lawyer,” you’ll have to work harder to show them that you can write something real people would want to read.

Don’t hesitate to start with small publications. It will give you experience in writing and submitting articles. You’ll also get a list of publishing credits and that will make it easier to get other editors to give you the go ahead.

Don’t be concerned about payment for your articles; most publications pay little or nothing anyway. But do negotiate a listing of your web site or other contact information at the end of the article. You want readers to be able to reach you.

Be patient; it will be worth the effort. Even if they don’t allow you to list your contact information in the article, just being able to say you have been published carries weight. Reprints of your articles make excellent marketing hand outs that can be used for years. And you can re-cycle your material (make sure you retained the right to do so) in other articles, speaking engagements, web/ezine articles, blog posts, reports, and so forth. Also, having been published can lead to interviews and speaking engagements and could also provide material for press releases. For example, your published article might be referenced in a press release where you offer a free report that amplifies the subject matter of the article.

Writing for publication will give you exposure and credibility as an expert in your field. It can also lead to even more exposure in the form of inquiries from other publications, joint venture partners, meeting holders, teleseminar promoters, and the like. Getting published will help you grow your mailing list, develop new referral sources, and create more clients.  It will also make your mother proud.