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April 07, 2008

Lawyers Are Still Despised. How Do You Respond?

My friend, Scott Greenfield, unleashed a firestorm of 'public' response on his blog Simple Justice when he criticized John Stossel's 20/20 report about a young couple in New York City (happened to be lawyers) who felt compelled to sue their next door neighbor for smoking and/or not preventing smoke from getting into their hallway and other common areas in their apartment building. They were concerned for the well-being of their four year old as it related to the toxic nature of second-hand smoke. He didn't like Stossel's condemnation of the lawyers and said so here. 

Scott was assailed by commenters denigrating lawyers, particularly these lawyers as plaintiffs, and this then turned into a mantra, 'lawyers are a plague on society." (And Scott doesn't take anything from anybody and his responses to commenters reflect this. So, make sure you read the comments.)

I don't choose to enter the fray, but it begs a very important issue new lawyers face:  What do you say when you meet someone who is, shall we say, less than impressed with what you do and feels no qualms about telling it to? 

So, I'm asking you.  What do you say?

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Comments

Jim Aspell

Wow, the comments that that blog posting provoked are amazing. I have to agree that when the whackos come out you have arrived as a blogger. Fascinating discussion there but I hope it is not even close to what the mainstream public thinks.

I can't say I would agree with the notion that those that have the time to comment on (let's face it, ultimately obscure blogs) constitute the mainstream of society. And by the way, inasmuch as I am commenting here, I would include myself in that headcount.

When asked, I always tell people I'm a lawyer. I figure I can sell myself. I'm not, at least as best I can tell, particularly pretentious. I do my best to help people, be nice to people and generally try and get the best result for all involved though an applied common sense. People seem to accept me for who I am and based on the fact my phone keeps ringing, I guess I'm doing something right.

Ubu Walker

When somebody tells me that they hate lawyers, I ask if they personally had a bad experience with a lawyer. Most people are more than willing to tell you the gruesome details. Then I ask, "Who is more to blame, the person who sued you, or the person acting as their mouth piece? Its not the lawyer who you should hate, its their client. The lawyer wouldn't have sued without a client directing them."

Susan Cartier Liebel

Ubu, You clearly have a nice way with clients. It certainly impressed me. Intelligent way to redirect the person's focus to the real issues.

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