What's the importance of lawyers?

Lawyers are the protectors and defenders of society. We protect your life, your family, and your livelihood. (Onki Kwan, 2019)

For example, criminal lawyers defend those who are charged with a crime, even heinous ones like murder; estate planning lawyers help pass your legacy onto your family and even ensure that your children are taken care of if something tragic happens to you; and business lawyers help protect and even grow your business.

There are many examples of lawyers helping people improve their lives both directly and indirectly. I worked at a public interest law firm, where this happened every single day.

Unfortunately, not everyone can get access to a lawyer and many do not seek legal help until it’s too late. We hear about preventative health, but no one talks about preventative legal services when both can play a fundamental role in your health and life outcomes.

I majored in Public Health and became a lawyer. Initially, I never thought about how the two are related and even doubted my ability to contribute to the world when I was a newly minted lawyer.

The law is freely accessible. Anyone can do research on any legal topic they like. So why would anyone need a lawyer? Because even though everyone can learn about any legal topic they like, not everyone is taught to think like a lawyer.

Law school is three years in the U.S. and there we read case after case of seemingly irrelevant information to learn to think, write, and argue like a lawyer.

Then we take the bar to prove that given a set of random facts—that probably read like a very dry and boring story to a non-legally trained mind—and apply it to a specific set of laws to show that we can think, write, and argue like a lawyer.

When I took the bar, it was a full 3 day exam. Only when we passed the bar and are sworn into the bar, are we allowed to give any legal advice.

There is a lot of information online about the law. It can serve as useful information, but not all of it is accurate. Some of it is incomplete or even dead wrong.

Some of the information is from biased sources that want your money and are motivated by convincing you that you need their product. But you cannot even ask them which of their products is right for you because answering your question means giving legal advice, which is illegal unless you’re a lawyer. So, they send you more information and you’re left to figure things out for yourself.

Remember, lawyers spend three years in school learning how to do legal analysis, so even the most untrained lawyer is probably better trained than a non-lawyer doing a few hours or even a few weeks of research.

Lawyers don’t seem useful until it is too late or until you are facing a dire situation. Let’s say you decided to forgo hiring a lawyer because you found it a lot cheaper to buy an online form. Initially, it feels great because you have this official looking form that you signed and maybe even notarized, so you think it protects you.

For a while, you sleep soundly, with peace of mind that you saved yourself some legal fees, while protecting yourself with that document you picked out online.

What if years down the line, you find out that the protection you thought you were buying was just an illusion and now you have to pay a lawyer much much more to fix the problem that he or she could have helped you prevent in the first place?

This happens more than you think. If it happens to you, this is when you will pay and it will hurt. It will hurt a lot more than it would have if you had just hired a lawyer in the first place. (Onki Kwan, 2019)