The Case for Lawyers

//stereotypes//

I took a class last semester called “Introduction to Representing Clients.” It was all about talking to clients, counseling them, negotiation tactics, conflicts of interests, and how to avoid or get out of complicated situations when representing someone. One of the first days of class we did an exercise where we listed off various stereotypes about lawyers.

Let me tell you, it was not difficult to make a list: greedy, stingy, aggressive, mean, selfish, manipulative, workaholics, dishonest, etc., etc., etc.

Then we talked about where these stereotypes might have come from. Some of them, we concluded, came from a lawyer actually doing his or her job well. A lawyer may be seen as aggressive or mean just by filing a piece of paper, but lawyers don’t always have a choice in whether to file a piece of paper because ethically, the client often has the final say. A lawyer may be seen as a workaholic because of the long hours he or she often works. But a lawyer facing a deadline or a sudden change in the case might feel required to work around the clock for a bit to resolve this issue, get to know the law inside-out and backwards, or come up with a new plan or argument. 

Lawyers get blamed for a lot: from changes in the stock market, to the cost of going to the doctor, to the type of curriculum taught to your children in school. And to be honest, lawyers can and might have played a role in each of those scenarios, but that is not all they do.

Some lawyers are greedy, manipulative, mean, and stingy. But you know who else is? Firemen, politicians, real estate agents, gas-station owners, babysitters, librarians, and gym teachers. I believe it’s not so much the profession that makes a person, but the person who makes the profession. If you are a greedy, mean person as a preschool teacher, you are still going to be that person as a lawyer. It’s not the job that’s the problem: it’s the person.

But that is not the kind of lawyer I would like to be. No, sir. I want to be the kind of lawyer who is also any of these jobs at any given time:

counselor
social worker
stylist
chauffeur
accountant
insurance agent
adviser
author
world-changer
listener
guide
advocate
representative
relationship expert
truth-seeker
teacher
student
artist
preacher
judge
ambassador

And I could probably go on with this list. But the point is this: lawyers aren’t the root of all evil, that’s sin’s position. And if you’ve had a bad lawyer or a better lawyer representing your opposition, then I’m sorry. But we are not all like that.

Personally, I’m psyched to be an attorney. Although it’s stressful beyond belief and crazy difficult, I really do believe I can do all kinds of great stuff with my degree and in my job. And even though I don’t have one of those eternally benevolent-sounding job titles like “teacher” or “in-home nurse,” I do want to do Good in my work, an I’m so insanely blessed to have been chosen for this job. Like it or not, people do need lawyers; so why not me?

-debarbibee

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