This morning on my way to work I tuned the radio to one of my favorite morning talk shows (yes, I enjoy talk radio). I didn’t get to hear the starting topic, but I did manage to listen in on one of the show’s regular call-ins.
For some reason this particular individual (who shall remain nameless) was really giving attorneys a hard time. “They’re what’s wrong with this country,” he/she claimed, “they’re all just out to screw you and get your money.”
Normally other folk’s opinions of my profession don’t bother me. We typically don’t receive the highest of marks from public opinion. And that’s o.k. I’ve come to accept that. But for some reason, the caller on the radio show this morning got to me.
Perhaps it was the blanket condemnation of ALL lawyers in general. It could have been him/her just blatantly faulting ALL lawyers for the world’s troubles. Whatever it was, the comments and opinions expressed by this individual were so off-base that my initial anger quickly turned into pity.
But, his/her comments and opinions got me thinking. So many people are quick to judge lawyers by the profession in general and what is portrayed on news networks, that they completely disregard the services we provide. So, I thought I’d write a little post about my profession and why I’m so passionate about it.
First, a quick story:
Earlier in my career, I had the opportunity to represent a young man who had a child out of wedlock. This man was hard-working, religious, but had run into hard times financially. The mother of this child was the complete opposite. She had a terrible attitude 99% of the time, she refused to get a job and was living off her parents (who were just like her). But worst of all, she refused to let my client see his child.
The first day he sat down in my office he broke down in tears. The love he expressed for this little baby was inspiring to say the least. But, he wasn’t getting to see his own child because of the mother. In fact, she told him that hell would freeze over before he would get to see that baby. It broke my heart.
So, we filed a lawsuit seeking custody and/or visitation. We showed up in court and you could almost feel the animosity the mother, and her family, showed towards my client. The hearing, well…..let’s just say it was ugly.
But, to make a long story short, we walked out of that court room with not only an approval by the judge, but also with my client getting FULL custody over this baby (the mother had some drug issues that she’d been lying about). Once again he broke down in tears…but these tears were those of joy. He hugged me, thanked me, and today has a perfect relationship with his baby boy.
I tell that story to demonstrate the true purpose of lawyers. It’s not to drag cases out for years and years (that particular case only took 1 month). It’s not to “screw” folks out of money. The true purpose of my profession is, first and foremost, to help people.
Now, having said that, I’ll concede that there are some attorneys out there who are less than ethical. But those guys and gals are far and few between. Most of us truly want to help. That’s why we got into this profession in the first place.
I’ll also concede that some of the services provided by attorneys can be quite expensive. But what most folks don’t understand is that to be successful in a lawsuit, it costs money. There’s court costs, service fees, expenses, etc. Not to mention the time intensive nature of the law. When a person hires an attorney, usually it’s for months which is a pretty big commitment.
And to those of you out there that have a negative view towards my profession, I want to propose a few hypothetical scenarios for your consideration:
- If you were to be wrongfully accused of a crime that threatens serious prison time, fines, and the risk of being taken from your family…would you want a lawyer?
- If you were to be seriously injured in an accident that was someone else’s fault and it resulted in high medical expenses, rehabilitation, loss of enjoyment of life…would you want a lawyer (what if their insurance company refused to pay?)?
- If a loved one was killed because of someone else’s negligence and the state decided not to prosecute…would you want justice?
- If a family member died and left you priceless property in their will but their creditors threaten to take it…would you want a lawyer?
- If your relationship with your child was threatened by an ex-spouse or the state…would you want a lawyer to help out?
These are real-life examples of people who needed help. And those people turned to a lawyer for guidance. They worked with their attorney and their attorney worked with them. It was a relationship…and a good one at that.
Lawyers, unlike other professions, take people in and provide help and guidance to those who have nowhere else to turn. Many times we do so on little or no pay at all.
I like to consider lawyers as the new media of the legal system. We hold others accountable for their actions. We ensure that the law doesn’t discriminate and treats everybody equally. We take a stand against wrongful prosecutions. We help folks take care of their assets, property, and loved ones. We seek justice in the presence of injustice.
But as I mentioned earlier our main purpose is, first and foremost, to help those who need us. So the next time you hear a derogatory remark about the profession that I love and about which I’m very passionate, refer them to this post.
Maybe we can start a change.
Good Legal Health.