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.
 

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  • 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. http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_action=doc&p_docid=1480CC987502B1A8&p_docnum=5
    • 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??? https://courtapps.in.gov/rollofattorneys/Search/Detail/1df46a17-08b7-e011-9d34-02215e942453
    • But compare ....
      how whistleblowers are persecuted in Indiana ... Case in point, see Paul Ogden and the hard press against his license. http://www.ogdenonpolitics.com/2013/08/what-donald-lundberg-did-to-me-why.html And give the oral argument in my case - a five year banishment for daring to peak behind the curtain and question undue processing: http://media.ca7.uscourts.gov/sound/2011/migrated.orig.11-2164_10_20_2011.mp3
    • 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. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

      2. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

      3. This outbreak illustrates the absurdity of the extreme positions taken by today's liberalism, specifically individualism and the modern cult of endless personal "freedom." Ebola reminds us that at some point the person's own "freedom" to do this and that comes into contact with the needs of the common good and "freedom" must be curtailed. This is not rocket science, except, today there is nonstop propaganda elevating individual preferences over the common good, so some pundits have a hard time fathoming the obvious necessity of quarantine in some situations....or even NATIONAL BORDERS...propagandists have also amazingly used this as another chance to accuse Western nations of "racism" which is preposterous and offensive. So one the one hand the idolatry of individualism has to stop and on the other hand facts people don't like that intersect with race-- remain facts nonetheless. People who respond to facts over propaganda do better in the long run. We call it Truth. Sometimes it seems hard to find.

      4. It would be hard not to feel the Kramers' anguish. But Catholic Charities, by definition, performed due diligence and held to the statutory standard of care. No good can come from punishing them for doing their duty. Should Indiana wish to change its laws regarding adoption agreements and or putative fathers, the place for that is the legislature and can only apply to future cases. We do not apply new laws to past actions, as the Kramers seem intent on doing, to no helpful end.

      5. I am saddened to hear about the loss of Zeff Weiss. He was an outstanding member of the Indianapolis legal community. My thoughts are with his family.

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