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Originally published on March 21, 2017 as “Top 10 Myths About Lawyers”
Lawyers have been maligned through history- the victim of jokes, satires, and ridicule. Their profession and role in society however, cannot be discounted and in fact essential to make sure that there is order and justice. Misconceptions about them persists, just like the following:
10. They make a lot of money. The popular notion is that a lawyer’s every move means money. This is not so. Sometimes courts assign lawyers to represent litigants who have no means of hiring a counsel of their own. Also, since most of the time lawyers and clients do not sign a contract, payments usually depend upon the ability of the client to pay. It is not unheard of for lawyers to render their services for free especially if the client cannot afford to pay.
9. Lawyers are mean. Lawyers are expected to defend the cause of their clients by all legal means. Their zeal to serve their clients is usually interpreted as being mean. There is also the perception that they are always angry and serious and cannot afford to have light moments. The truth is, they are just but human. They know how to have fun which they especially need to relieve the stress caused by their profession.
8. All they want is their client’s money. This is quite unfair. Of course an employee is expected to be paid by his employer. A lawyer puts in countless hours in studying and researching possible remedies and preparing the necessary pleadings for the case- this has to be compensated just like any other person working for another. Although the Supreme Court said that lawyering is not a business, yet lawyers have to be compensated for their time and effort. Of course money should not be the primary consideration for a lawyer to perform his duty but to see to it that justice is served.
7. Lawyers can send you to jail. There are several instances when a person may be incarcerated- when he is caught committing a crime or when a criminal case has been filed against him and the judge orders his imprisonment. A lawyer however has no power to send a person to jail although he can prepare the complaint which can be the basis for a case that can cause his incarceration.
6. They are legally invincible. Some believe that lawyers cannot be held liable under the law because they are lawyers. The truth is, there are cases filed against lawyers whether connected to their practice or otherwise. Some have even been disbarred and suspended.
5. They keep postponing hearings to delay the case. Postponements are usually due to unavoidable circumstances like conflict of schedule, or when the lawyer is sick or his witness, and such other reasonable grounds. There are times when judges cause the postponement of the hearing such as if he is on seminar, he is ill and for other reasons.
4. Lawyers instigate the client to file cases. There is a notion that lawyers convince clients to file cases so their services can be engaged. This is again unfair. A lawyer usually tells his client about the consequences of filing a case including how much money and time will be involved. If after this, the client still decides to file a case knowing he might incur expenses, only then will the lawyer file the case.
3. Lawyers complicate simple matters. I have encountered several situations where the discussion became complicated and it the lawyer is blamed for overcomplicating a simple matter. Come think of it, what a non-lawyer perceives as simple might not be so in law. Several laws have been passed and they usually overlap their interpretation vary. It is for this reason that they are particularly meticulous and careful.
2. They are always in an argument. Lawyering is not always about arguing cases in court. As has been discussed in previous articles, lawyering also includes giving legal advice, and preparing documents. And litigating cases even does not always involve having an argument with the judge or opposing counsel.
1. They are liars. This is probably the most popular myth about lawyers. Of course the phrase “lawyers are liars” is all too often used to describe lawyers but this is entirely untrue. Upon admission to the bar, a lawyer takes an oath to “do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court”. Also, a lawyer can be held liable for contempt or subjected to an administrative case if he lies in court. The origin of this popular notion cannot be ascertained but it surely discredited lawyers for a long long time.