Does being a lawyer automatically earn one’s trust?

May 12, 2014
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Would you wear a T-shirt that says “Trust me, I’m a lawyer?”

Or perhaps, more importantly, should I trust you because you are a lawyer?

This T-shirt popped up as a promotion in our paper’s Twitter feed this morning.  As of 10 a.m., the website says 35 have been purchased.  The description of the shirt even says, “Are you a lawyer? Then people better trust you. Wear this shirt with pride!”

I see this T-shirt being worn for two reasons: by a lawyer who’s wearing it to be funny (ha ha, I’m a lawyer and my shirt says so!) or by a non-lawyer who’s also wearing it to be funny (ha ha, I’m not a lawyer, but people trust lawyers, so you should trust me when I tell you to …)

We – the general public – should trust lawyers because these men and women have dedicated time and resources to learning the law. They are a small group of people that we can turn to when we have a serious problem: divorce, an arrest, being sued by someone, etc. We expect them to know what they are doing. We TRUST them to know what they are doing. That’s why they get paid the big bucks, right?

But sometimes, just as in every profession (Hello, Jayson Blair), there are bad apples who cause us to second guess or bad mouth attorneys. There are attorneys who take advantage of their clients, only look out for themselves, and abuse their positions of trust. They become the inspiration for bad lawyer jokes.

But I know – and I hope the general public realizes – that these few bad apples aren’t representative of the legal profession. The majority of attorneys are out there working hard and earning the trust of their clients.

So wear this T-shirt with pride, lawyers. I trust you will.


 

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  1. Indianapolis Bar Association President John Trimble and I are on the same page, but it is a very large page with plenty of room for others to join us. As my final Res Gestae article will express in more detail in a few days, the Great Recession hastened a fundamental and permanent sea change for the global legal service profession. Every state bar is facing the same existential questions that thrust the medical profession into national healthcare reform debates. The bench, bar, and law schools must comprehensively reconsider how we define the practice of law and what it means to access justice. If the three principals of the legal service profession do not recast the vision of their roles and responsibilities soon, the marketplace will dictate those roles and responsibilities without regard for the public interests that the legal profession professes to serve.

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