Are lawyers dishonest people?

Why do you think lawyers, as a group, have such a universal reputation for dishonesty? Paige Andre-Hudson of De Funiak Springs, Fla., wrote: “Could it be because the group has a disproportionate number of dishonest members?”

I replied: “I’ve laughed at ‘lawyer’ jokes myself, but when I look at the subject more objectively, I don’t find evidence that attorneys are any less honest than the members of other occupational groups. Maybe one of the reasons they’ve developed that reputation is that their professional ethics require them to go to extreme lengths to defend even the most reprehensible characters in society, and this behavior has received broad exposure since the advent of television in the courtroom. (Note that we never denounce lawyers who defend the best of us.)

Even in less sensational appearances, we routinely see attorneys trying to cast each other as liars, opportunists, and worse. But because it’s part of the standard operating procedure, it doesn’t tell us much about them as individuals. So if we’re going to level ethical criticism and press for change, it makes more sense to target the principles of the legal profession itself, not the conduct of its members.” (MARILYN VOS SAVANT. MARCH 25, 2014 – 5:00 AM. Why Do Lawyers Have a Reputation for Dishonesty? most lawyers dishonest, especially those who have built up a reputation for winning their cases? No. Some lawyers are meticulously honest, they just pick their battles well.

A good lawyer will find the law that will allow them to win their case, given the facts at hand. Generally speaking, lying to a judge will get your ass kicked in court — especially if the other side can prove that you knowingly lied.

On the other hand, picking the facts carefully can make it look like the law supports your case. If you want to call strategic omission or stressing of certain facts dishonest, then things get a bit more dicey for some lawyers — especially ones who spend a lot of time in court.

On the other hand, there are a lot of lawyers who rarely step into court… They simply arrange contracts, and other similar things.. Those lawyers do much better when their clients (and the people that their clients work with) know that they can trust the lawyer to be meticulously honest.

What you see is not always the full truth. (Stephen Samuel. Dec 22, 2017.

Do you really think lawyers are honest? I have given a lot of thought to why the public believes that lawyers are dishonest. And I have decided that, in the end, it comes from a fundamental misunderstanding of how the legal profession works.

First, lawyers have ethical obligations that are foreign to most lay people. These obligations require us to keep confidences and make arguments that lay people don’t understand. I was raised to believe that holding back information is lying. and I think many people feel the same way. But as a lawyer, even if I know something that would hand the case to the other side, I still have to keep it to myself. The law does not consider holding back information that you are not legally required to provide lying. In fact, if I reveal my clients’ confidences I could lose my license to practice law, and whatever I said likely couldn’t be used in court against the now ex-client anyway.

Second, lawyers defend “guilty” people. We see these famous cases in which we decide that the person is guilty. Guilty to lay people has a different meaning from guilty to a lawyer. Guilty to a lawyer means that the person has been found guilty by a jury or pled guilty to a crime. Until one of these things happens, the person is not guilty. And it is the job of the criminal defense attorney to zealously, within the bounds of the law and our ethical requirements, to defend their clients. Many people, unless and until they or a family member find themselves charged with a crime, don’t like this. They feel it makes lawyers bad and/or dishonest.

Third, lawyers tend to come into most people’s lives at bad times. I am going to guess that most people who encounter lawyers do so when they have been in an accident or are getting a divorce. These are not good times and it is very easy to develop resentment against the person representing you. Even the strongest of lawsuits in personal injury cases are difficult. They can drag on for a long time. The injury victim has to answer a lot of personal questions. And then, if the injury victim gets money, they pay anywhere from 30–50% of that money to the lawyer. It is pretty common for the injury victim to start thinking, the lawyer didn’t do so much, why did they get so much money? I’m the one who was hurt. It is easy to forget that the lawyer got the money for you and that the majority of the work they did the client never sees. And of course, divorces are miserable. No one wins in a divorce. They are expensive. Clients rarely are happy with the end result and just feel like they paid a lot of money to lose. So money is an issue too. Lawyers get paid, win or lose (barring contingency cases).

Most lawyers are very honest. Some lawyers are not. As with any profession, there are some awful lawyers out there who give us all a bad name. But the general impression of dishonesty, I think, really comes from a place of misunderstanding of our obligations as lawyers. (Jennifer Ellis. Updated May 14, 2018.