Written by Tom Gordon
In other news, the sun rose in the east today.
The results of this year's Gallup poll of Americans' views of various industries shouldn't surprise anyone, at least with regard to people's opinions of lawyers. Only 29 percent had a favorable view of lawyers, placing the legal field 20th out of 25 industries surveyed. Lawyers have had the same low approval rating fairly consistently over the ten years of the survey's existence.
Although the poll doesn't address people's reasons for their opinions, anecdotal evidence suggests people dislike the legal profession for the wrong reasons. Most people I've heard voicing complaints about lawyers make claims that there are too many of them or that they are greedy, dishonest, or untrustworthy. In fact, as we've discussed on this blog before, there aren't enough lawyers to handle everyone's legal problems. Moreover, lawyers are not inherently any more or less ethical than the members of any other profession. However, self-regulation, when combined with a monopoly over legal services, gives lawyers fewer incentives not to behave badly.
So, America, although we agree with your dissatisfaction with the legal profession, we wish you were dissatisfied for the right reasons.
Tom Gordon is Executive Director of Responsive Law.