The number of lawyer stereotypes floating around out there is only eclipsed by the number of lawyer jokes floating around out there.
We’ve heard them all, haven’t we?
“How many lawyer jokes are there, anyway? Only three. The rest are true stories.”
Lawyer Stereotypes and Public Perception
According to this Pew Research Center Study on the public’s perceived contribution of 10 different occupations to society, respondents rated lawyers at the bottom of the list. “About one-in-five Americans (18%) say lawyers contribute a lot to society, while 43% say they make some contribution; fully a third (34%) say lawyers contribute not very much or nothing at all.”
Those are some harsh statistics that go to a lack of clarity about what a lawyer’s role can be. They need a better public relations firm because truth be told, they make an incredible contribution to our society by advocating for civil liberties, defending clients’ rights, and fighting against injustice. There’s quite a bit of care that goes into good lawyering. True story.
We all know there are those proverbial “bad apples” hanging out in a multitude of occupations, so why do lawyers, in particular, get such a bad rap?
At the root of these lawyer stereotypes are several factors that play into a negative public perception:
- People often work with lawyers during the most stressful times in their life—divorce, death, lawsuits, and major accidents to name a few.
- Legal matters can take a great deal of time to resolve.
- Legal services are expensive and clients may not always understand what exactly they are paying for.
- In disputes, lawyers represent both sides as if each should win—so someone always loses, and someone is always the bad guy.
- Clients often resent paying legal fees when the outcome wasn’t more favorable and often even when lawyers win the case.
Further exacerbating the problem is that the traditional transactional and litigation-based models for practicing law have caused the very nature of it to become about chasing billable hours.
This alone has two major impacts:
- Clients often feel they are being ‘nickel and dimed’ or taken advantage of.
- The pressure to meet billable hours requirements can cause even the most well-intentioned lawyers to take on too much work and be unable to adequately deliver on it.
How is anyone, lawyers or their clients, supposed to feel good about that? For lawyers stuck in this system, it can be nearly impossible to break free.
What is the Real Truth About (Good) Lawyering?
People need lawyers who can address pain points, relieve stress, and become a valued (nice person) partner who advocates for them. And the truth of the matter? That’s totally doable, particularly when you focus on their strengths:
- Lawyers help solve complex problems.
- Lawyers assess and help mitigate risk to prevent future issues.
- Lawyers advocate for those that can’t advocate for themselves.
Those are some pretty important functions in a lawyer’s role. And the great news? If perception is reality, then we can change the perception.
We can turn those lawyer stereotypes on their head!
At New Law Business Model, we look at lawyer stereotypes as an opportunity to identify how important it is to “Walk the Talk.” (Incidentally, this is also one of our core values.)
How do we do this? We teach lawyers how to break free from the old transactional model that forces them to chase billable hours. We show them there’s a different way to practice the kind of law allowing them to serve as true trusted counselors. And we offer guidance on how to provide proactive and comprehensive estate planning along with strategic business counsel services in a new way—one that prioritizes people over the billable hour.
Because the thing of it is, at the heart of practicing law is, well, heart.
We know you don’t want to be part of that old guard perpetuating lawyer stereotypes. That means you’re open to a new way of practicing law. Register for our free training, so you can start to love your life AND your law practice!
Ready to Learn More Right Now? Get started here with this free, on-demand training and discover how you can start building a law practice—and a life—you love.