It’s a bit of an oxymoron, that the professionals who help to interpret and guide you through the legal issues affecting your work and personal lives are held up to higher scrutiny – as if they were the problem instead of the solution.
As a working lawyer, and co-founder of Linkilaw, I thought that I would take time to discuss some of the most frequently expressed assumptions about lawyers.
1. Lawyers are only doing it for the money!
This is, in my opinion, the biggest and most misleading cliché that does the rounds about lawyers. Obviously everyone works to earn a living, and making good money will always make a profession more desirable – but on the whole it has been my experience that lawyers are genuinely passionate about what they do.
Still perceived as an ‘elite’ profession, lawyers have had the luxury to choose their career path, and the courage to follow through with 4 years of studying plus two years of training. They have made it and bring passion to their work.
In fact, the more they enjoy it, the better at it they generally are. So friends, watch out for the unhappy lawyer and stay away.
2. Lawyers are always trying to cheat you!
The commonly held opinion is that a lawyer will always try to up-sell you unnecessary services (for more money than you want to spend). Having worked with hundreds of lawyers, I can report that this is not the case.
In point of fact, lawyers make poor marketeers at the best of times and are likely to leave the up-sell to others. Law and business have been separated at law school, so only a lawyer who has had specific experience in the business world will have this mindset. Otherwise, a lawyer is a lawyer – not a businessman.
3. Litigators need to be aggressive to be good!
We have all formed our impressions of effective lawyers, skewed over the years by heroic TV shows and films. “Objection” shouts the lawyer. “Relevance!”
This is not truly how it happens in real court. As a matter of fact, it’s quite the opposite – the best lawyers in court are generally the ones who don’t create too much disruption. This is in no small part because, in court, it is important to be liked by the judge. The smartest lawyers will follow the judge’s lead, or if they disagree, politely explain why.
4. Becoming a lawyer means becoming rich!
Not anymore. Lawyers are aware of the financial pressures companies and individuals face, and it is part of their job to adapt their fees to their clients’ needs.
If your lawyer is charging you astronomical sums, chances are they are also supporting a large office and a myriad of support staff. If this sounds like your problem, you should speak to Linkilaw – we’ll find you a better deal and equally good legal advice.
5. Lawyers feed off your life tragedies!
Unfortunately, most people turn to lawyers when situations have already gone from bad to worse. Lawyers are used to dealing with plummeting scenarios, and this may be why they are appear a bit cynical.
Consider the same circumstances, but with a doctor as the professional whose services you’ve sought. None of us will visit a doctor when we are healthy. But they will always jump in at the last minute and make the best of a life threatening situation – and they save lives.
Well, so do lawyers. Lawyers can keep you out of prison, help you save your business from going bankrupt, and prevent your children from suffering due to a messy divorce. Life altering, if not life saving. I think you will agree. And, I’ve yet to see a single lawyer relishing the hardships of a client. Most lawyers are in their chosen career because they genuinely want to help.
6. Lawyers are manipulative!
At law school we are taught how to form arguments. With practice, we hone these skills.
Misconception: This skill is used to manipulate clients.
Reality: This skill is used to manoeuvre complex legal principles, and to adapt them to the client’s case.
I would say that lawyers are not so much manipulative as they are masterful – with a tremendous amount of common sense and skill. It take expertise and finesse to stay on top of every nuance in a case, so that the facts aren’t manipulated against them and their client.
7. Lawyers have no morals!
Believe it or not, ethical lawyers actually do exist! The majority of lawyers I know recognise this as the only way to do business. With the profit margins tightening in the legal sector, lawyers are conscious that the only way to survive is to strive to be the best at what they do. Cutting corners is no longer an option.
8. Everything is worth suing for, when you have the right lawyer!
This is another cliché born of Hollywood! Filing suit can be VERY EXPENSIVE, and should always be the very last resort in any conflict. Fortunately, there are a wealth of alternative methods of settling disputes without going to court.
In fact, in the UK the courts make it clear that appearing before them should be the last option. Judges are known to discredit claims and/or reduce your compensation, if you have not shown a willingness to attempt mediation. And rightfully so. Why would you ever go to court if you could settle this in your office?
9. Good lawyers only care about the case, not the person!
This is actually a more accurate description of a “bad lawyer.” Case and client are closely aligned and neither can be ignored in the legal world.
Every good lawyer knows that in order to win a case, they must work closely with (and get to know) their client. This is necessary in order to best understand their client’s perspective and individual needs.
10. Lawyers have no sense of humour!
No, lawyers are not extraterrestrials who don’t need to rely on social interaction for survival. They are just like every other human, and thus have the same triggers. Some people just have a better sense of humour than others – such is life.
In many instances a lawyer must be able to exhibit a better sense of humour than most professionals. I’ve always laughed around lawyers. They aren’t as intimidating as they may appear.
11. Lawyers have huge egos!
This is a tricky one. Undoubtedly, this is the hardest prejudice to refute. I say this because some of the biggest egos I have met have belonged to lawyers. It’s true that certain lawyers do play on their charm and may exude false modesty, however they are in the minority – most lawyers are actually very down-to-earth, and even sometimes shy!
12. Lawyers take too much time!
Make sure that your lawyers are swift in their response to you (no more than 24 hours). In litigation, however, timing doesn’t always depend on your lawyer. As a matter of fact, it rarely does. The courts are slow and there is little to be done to remedy the system.
Don’t be too quick to call your lawyer slow or lazy – be sure to know that their work does not depend on another person’s schedule. Equally, if you have proof of your lawyer’s lack of work, voice your queries with them. If they don’t listen, contact the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
13. Lawyers cannot be trusted!
It’s safe to say that when it comes to lawyers, they are rarely fully trusted. This does not mean they are untrustworthy. As a matter of fact, I think lawyers are often misunderstood – because they speak their own language: legalese.
Law school taught us all the right things. But, it hasn’t really trained us how to explain in lay terms what we mean – or should I say translate legal jargon into everyday syntax.
14. Hiring a lawyer will cost you unreasonable amounts of cash!
There is little to argue here. Lawyers come in all shapes and sizes, and therefore in all prices.
You can find lawyers who will expect you to spend your life’s savings, whilst others will take you on for free; on a ‘no-win-no-fee’ basis for example. It all depends on who you are looking at to solve your problems.
Here at Linkilaw, we will listen to your issue and are mindful of your budget in matching you with the right legal professional for your case.