Public sees lawyers as contributing little to society, Pew survey says

July 22, 2013
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Once again, attorneys find their occupation at the bottom of a list compiled by the Pew Research Center regarding contributing to society’s well-being.

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life surveyed around 4,000 citizens earlier this year, asking how much 10 professions contribute to society. Only 18 percent said that lawyers contribute “a lot” to society. A third said lawyers contribute “not very much” or “nothing at all.” It’s not all doom and gloom – 43 percent said lawyers make “some contribution,” although what constitutes “some” is unknown.

When this survey was conducted four years ago, lawyers were near the bottom of the list, although in 2009, 23 percent of respondents said lawyers contribute a lot to society. Business execs took the title of contributing the least to society in the last survey.

Why do you think attorneys get such a bad rap from the public? (Certainly lawyer jokes can’t help.) When attorneys get in trouble, it makes the news. (See William Conour and Arthur J. Usher IV). But does the mainstream media pick up on the good things that lawyers do for society, such as pro bono work, mission work, or fundraising?  We enjoying writing about the positive and interesting things lawyers do, but Indiana Lawyer readers are typically attorneys.

Is the legal profession not doing enough to spread the word about the good work it does so as to counteract all the negative light drawn by ambulance chasers or attorneys who write books about former clients?

If it’s any comfort, my profession did not fare well either in the Pew survey. Journalists saw the biggest drop in public esteem. Four years ago, 38 percent said we contribute “a lot” to society; now, it’s just 28 percent.

Those in the military and teachers came in at No. 1 and No. 2 on this year’s list.

  • Justice or just us?
    When the leading lights and judges choose "just us" over justice via a system rewarding those who can lawyer up with the most well paid firms, well then the golden rule has become "he who has the most gold rules" and there is no reason for the great unwashed to view attorneys as anything but whores reserved for the pleasure of the landed gentry. We have traded justice for insider trading and a constitutional order for power politics. Why should the powerless see our profession as anything other than a source of the rot?
    • Could it be cases like this one that erode the public confidence?
      ESP since it appears to have no bearing on the attorney's privilege to practice law in this state??? Hicks, who earlier this year pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of operating a vehicle while intoxicated and carrying a handgun without a license, appeared before an Allen County Superior Court judge to learn his sentence. He also admitted he had violated the conditions that allowed him to remain free until that sentence was handed down. Namely, he had tasted alcohol, something he was forbidden to do.
    • Confusing status
      Article states a 180 cessation from licensure, but S.Ct. website does not so report??? From article: Before his sentencing, Hicks told Gull: "Whatever you do, I deserve." Gull ordered Hicks to serve 60 days at the Allen County Jail on the drunken driving charge but suspended 50 days of that sentence. She ordered him to serve 365 days on the charge of carrying a handgun without a license but suspended 275 days. She then said he could serve his time in the county community corrections program and that his license will be suspended for 180 days. "There is a fear you're on a self-destructive path...if it isn't interrupted, you're going to die," Gull said. Hicks has a previous drunken-driving conviction from Whitley County in 2004. YET AS OF THIS DAY .... roll of attorneys claims active in good standing???
    • But compare ....
      how whistleblowers are persecuted in Indiana ... Case in point, see Paul Ogden and the hard press against his license. And give the oral argument in my case - a five year banishment for daring to peak behind the curtain and question undue processing:
    • try the capitalists not "landed gentry"
      Mr Brown this is not Blackstone's England, and there is no landed gentry. There are no titles of aristocracy and no fee tail nor alloidial title ownership of land. What we do have is the system the "Founders" set up which is one that favors banks, usurers, capitalists, large scale mercantile and industrial concerns. at the expense of the socalled middle class, who actually bear a lot more resemblance to yesterday's peasants. The poor are fine here too, free government programs for everything, with two bureaucrats paid for every beneficiary, and taxpayers footing the bill. That's the system the "revolutionaries" got both here and in France and I think I would take "landed gentry" over "ZOMBIE BANKS" any day of the week. At least "landed gentry" could meet Madame la Guillotine if things got bad enough-- today the "bourguoisie" are increasingly hard to find
      • Hang on John I've got to get on with this
        No titles of nobility/aristocracy other than Esquire, you mean, right John? And we know from Ogden and Orwell that while all nobles are equal, some nobility are more noble than others.
      • Most Relegious However
        We must remember that we are number one at scaring the Hell out of people. There is redemption in every profession.

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      1. I commend Joe for standing up to this tyrant attorney! You ask why? Well I’m one of David Steele victims. I was in desperate need of legal help to protect my child, David saw an opportunity, and he demanded I pay him $3000. Cash. As I received motions and orders from court he did nothing! After weeks of emails asking him to address the legal issues, he responded by saying he was “on vacation “and I should be so lucky to have “my attorney” reply. Finally after lie on top of lie I asked for a full refund, which he refused. He then sent me “bills” for things he never did, such as, his appearance in the case and later claimed he withdrew. He never filed one document / motion for my case! When I finally demanded he refund my money he then turn to threats which scared my family for our lives. It seem unreal we couldn’t believe this guy. I am now over $100,000 in debt digging out of the legal mess he caused my family. Later I was finally able to hire another law office. I met Joe and we worked diligently on my case. I soon learn Joe had a passion for helping people. As anyone who has been through a legal battle it is exhausting. Joe was always more than happy to help or address an issue. Joe was knowledgeable about all my concerns at the same time he was able to reduce the stress and anxieties of my case. He would stay late and come in early, he always went the extra mile to help in any way he could. I can only imagine what Joe and his family has been through, my prayers go out to him and all the victims.

      2. Steele did more than what is listed too. He purposely sought out to ruin me, calling potential employers and then lied about me alleging all kinds of things including kidnapping. None of his allegations were true. If you are in need of an ethical and very knowledgeable family law paralegal, perhaps someone could post their contact information. Ethics cannot be purchased, either your paralegal has them or they do not.

      3. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

      4. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

      5. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise