Lawyers are hated for being arrogant, pompous, aggressive, tactless, confrontational, pedantic, expensive, unscrupulous, ruthless, negative, devious and slow.
For many centuries, lawyers have been tight lipped about these 12 legal characteristics or “the 12” as they are known, but many now admit to feeling pressured by clients and others to live up to such a high expectation.
Lawyers have come to resent the daily drudge of being right all the time and find themselves bucking tradition by speaking to their staff normally rather than in the more customary “irritated” tone of voice.
“Sometimes, I have what my secretary calls a “normal day”, said one lawyer, “staff found it strange, at first”.
A recent study has found that lawyers are living off a reputation earned centuries ago and many, now, rely on their secretaries to add the sort of unpleasantness normally expected of lawyers. However, without Law School training, many secretaries struggle to meet such an exacting standard. Clients, who believe that their lawyers are too arrogant to see them, would be shocked to learn that it is a fear of being found out that is driving lawyers into isolation. However, the cracks are starting to appear. “ I find my lawyer quite nice”, said one client who did not wish to be named.
Senior lawyers blame legal education. “They come out of law school, they don’t know how to behave and would not know a Res Ipsa Loquitur if it hit them on the back of the head”, said one Managing Partner of a large law firm, “We have become so concerned that we have decided to take legal education in house. Basically, clients do not want advice, which is easy to follow, they can get that anywhere”.
Top Legal bodies believe that increasing demand for lawyers has flooded the profession with people who cannot be trusted to display the right attitude. While stressing the importance of women in the legal community a spokesman said, “They made a promising start in the 1980’s and we had hopes of adding “scary” to the list. However, while they have an excellent command of the 12, they have developed a less than obvious style, which has made them approachable and that is the slippery slope”.
The profession has turned to training organizations which have demonstrated success with medical, dental and other receptionists. One legal spokesman said, “We were interested to know how receptionists are able to generate such aggression and ill will among clients and patients with such minimal interaction”.
With lawyers in disarray, some accountants have seized the opportunity to develop their own 12 with a view to increasing their charge out rates. One accountant said, “We have been working on “pedantic and slow” for quite a while, however we are now ready to tackle “expensive” and “negative”. With “boring”, “incredibly tight” and “no sense of humour” under our belts we only need 5, or is that 4, more”.
(c) Paul Brennan 2010.
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