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 fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

      2. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

      3. The US has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's prisoners. Far too many people are sentenced for far too many years in prison. Many of the federal prisoners are sentenced for marijuana violations. Marijuana is safer than alcohol.

      4. My daughter was married less than a week and her new hubbys picture was on tv for drugs and now I havent't seen my granddaughters since st patricks day. when my daughter left her marriage from her childrens Father she lived with me with my grand daughters and that was ok but I called her on the new hubby who is in jail and said didn't want this around my grandkids not unreasonable request and I get shut out for her mistake

      5. From the perspective of a practicing attorney, it sounds like this masters degree in law for non-attorneys will be useless to anyone who gets it. "However, Ted Waggoner, chair of the ISBA’s Legal Education Conclave, sees the potential for the degree program to actually help attorneys do their jobs better. He pointed to his practice at Peterson Waggoner & Perkins LLP in Rochester and how some clients ask their attorneys to do work, such as filling out insurance forms, that they could do themselves. Waggoner believes the individuals with the legal master’s degrees could do the routine, mundane business thus freeing the lawyers to do the substantive legal work." That is simply insulting to suggest that someone with a masters degree would work in a role that is subpar to even an administrative assistant. Even someone with just a certificate or associate's degree in paralegal studies would be overqualified to sit around helping clients fill out forms. Anyone who has a business background that they think would be enhanced by having a legal background will just go to law school, or get an MBA (which typically includes a business law class that gives a generic, broad overview of legal concepts). No business-savvy person would ever seriously consider this ridiculous master of law for non-lawyers degree. It reeks of desperation. The only people I see getting it are the ones who did not get into law school, who see the degree as something to add to their transcript in hopes of getting into a JD program down the road.

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