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. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

      2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

      3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

      4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

      5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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