Four years ago, I started this blog when a report was released concluding that judges enjoyed their work. Frankly, they could have fooled me. Now there is a study to suggest that lawyers in general are very happy with their job. However this was a UK study. Lawyers in the UK are known to be exceedingly happy whereas as you may be aware the rest of us can struggle.
I posted the next reason when I saw lawyers in suits bravely fighting riot police in the streets of Islamabad, Pakistan. They were prepared to risk injury defending the independence of judges, even if an Economist report suggested that in another part of town, other Gucci clad lawyers cynically had photo ops in police vans.
After that, one reason followed another, intermittently. I decided on 101 reasons as I didn’t want to depress the entire legal profession by having 1,001 reasons.
I examined at length why lawyers and the law are still not fulfilling clients’ expectations.
I covered the general failings of some lawyers such as scruffiness and being dull based mainly on the observations of my own wife. I was soon looking back to when I started as a lawyer to explain that young lawyers can be a little bit full of themselves while conceding even the older ones are difficult to live with. I urged young lawyers to be more sensitive especially during the mandatory visit to the cells immediately after a client had received a prison sentence.
Complaints ranged from lawyers being too busy and ignoring clients to lawyers not being aggressive enough or even that they irritatingly tried to talk clients out of suing people rather than just getting on with it. But, basically it boiled down to the same 12 issues which have dogged lawyers for centuries, The Twelve.
By 2009 I had a strong suspicion that it was all the judges fault , although, I felt that legal receptionists needed to bear some, if not most of the responsibility for the supposed unpopularity of the profession.
I became convinced that many legal issues could have been avoided if clients could be directed away from situations which have so often have adverse legal and social consequences, such as:
- teaching their children to drive
- suing the wrong people
- disputes with mothers in law
- giving money away to anyone in their family
- admitting anything
- fighting the household cat
- leaving their spouse out of a will
- resisting their adult son’s attempts to put you in a home.
I suggested new forms of trial and innovative legal practice business models. I explained that procrastination by a lawyer was not just an inconvenience to their clients but to the other lawyer in the transaction.
In a desperate effort to try and keep the readers’ attention, I turned to sex - obscenity, disgusting filth and my limited experience defending alleged Chinese brothel keepers in a tastefully written piece entitled “The Copper with the Golden Chopper”.
Also, I managed, as most lawyers do, to squeeze in a few of my own small successes such as my first appearance at the Old Bailey, my dispute with a lady over a car parking space and my fight with my own neighbour. I took the opportunity to defend my own record, yes one client did fall asleep when I was pleading for his liberty, but only once.
I came to five conclusions:
- Certain classes of people had an irrational bias against lawyers, such as those married to them and I decided (quite some time ago) that their opinion should be ignored, or at least heavily discounted.
- People generally liked their own lawyer – one man had four of them. Expressions such as clubbable and like an old Labrador were not uncommon.
- Everybody seemed to dislike other peoples’ lawyers, government lawyers, trainee lawyers and understandably law students.
- No one dared make a comment about legal receptionists or legal journalists.
- There was a strong dislike of in-house lawyers or anyone else receiving stock options mainly by private practice lawyers.
We lawyers are far more popular than we thought and it may be safe to encourage our own children to become lawyers, after all.
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