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Why Do People Hate Lawyers?

I hate lawyers. Now, that’s a phrase you’ve probably heard in the course of your career. It ranks top among the most despised professions, right up there with the folks at the income tax department.

William Shakespeare himself, the greatest writer of all time, once wrote the line, “…first, let’s kill all the lawyers.” Looks like he wasn’t too fond of them either.

Nonetheless, as the adage goes, everyone hates lawyers until they need one. You, on the other hand, love the profession. That’s why you chose to be one in the first place, right?

The real question is – why do people hate lawyers? Is there something you might be missing? This post explores the top five reasons why society has a deep-set anathema towards legal practitioners.

1. Why Are Lawyers Hated – Being a Smart-Ass Doesn’t Help

Like it or not, many people don’t like being told what to do, even if that’s what they’re paying you to do. A successful entrepreneur running a tech firm might object to the advice (read lecture) a lawyer gives them simply based on “case history.”

If you take this approach when giving legal counsel without taking the time to learn about your client, the business they run, and/or the legal issues they’re currently grappling with, rest assured they’ll shut you out faster than you can say “Esquire.”

Speak their language and try to view things from their perspective. Whether you’re a criminal lawyer defending a client who’s facing serious felony charges, or a corporate attorney representing a Fortune 500 company, you need to walk a mile in their shoes.

If you don’t have an entrepreneurial bone in your body, for instance, and you haven’t got a clue what it takes to run a company, don’t speak on things you have no idea about. Take the time to understand your client and the unique circumstances they’re currently dealing with before handing out blanket advice that’s theoretical at best.

2. Lawyers Are Time-Wasters

Hey, don’t shoot the messenger. Why does everyone hate lawyers? We’re simply giving you cold hard facts.

According to most people outside the legal profession, everything seems to drag on for ages once lawyers get involved. A simple deal that would have otherwise taken a couple of days to iron out (in their opinion) takes months to streamline. A divorce that would have taken a few weeks in a perfect world seems to drag on for years. The common denominator: Lawyers.

From the outside looking in, it might look like you’re intentionally dragging your feet. What they don’t know is how much you have on your plate.

Lawyers have an innate desire to solve problems, even when they already have a full caseload. Something as simple as a phone call for legal advice can turn into an hour-long conversation. This, in turn, takes time away from the issues that need their attention, hence the delays.

Plus, you know how much paperwork is involved in litigation or drawing up legal contracts. It is likely one of the few things that make you hate being a lawyer.

The best way to overcome this would be to delegate. Leverage help from your colleagues to move things along at a much faster pace. That way, you keep your clients happy, and you save yourself (and other lawyers) from earning a bad reputation.

3. The Ticking Clock

Most people hate the idea of getting charged every time they talk to their lawyers. Some firms charge hundreds of dollars per hour, which doesn’t go down well with most people.

The fact that the clock starts ticking every time you speak with them or do work for them is likely why many people despise lawyers. Every 15-minute increment makes their blood boil.

If you don’t want to be on the list of most hated lawyers, consider changing your billing structure. Some firms have adopted a Legal as a Service (LaaS) model, which bills clients for transactions as opposed to time. They’ll like you a lot more for it.

4. Speaking Legalese

It’s no secret that lawyers have a solid grasp of the English language. To people with a non-legal background, all that jargon makes it look like you’re showing off, even when you don’t mean to. A simple contract written in English looks alien to them.

The best thing to do to overcome this “language barrier” is to do your best to explain legal jargon and contractual language in simple every-day terms that anyone who’s not been to law school can understand. That way, your clients don’t get bound by complex clauses that they didn’t quite understand the ramifications of.

Whatever you do, steer clear of using words and phrases like “hereinbefore,” “whereof,” “hereunto,” “fail not at your peril,” and other legalese jargon when drawing up contracts for your clients. Keep it simple.

5. They Wear Intimidation Well

The truth is – most people are intimidated by lawyers. Everything from their tailor-made suits, giant desks in their corner offices, maroon leather chairs, wood-paneled conference rooms, and fancy law degrees are enough to make anyone shrink in inferiority.

To better connect with your clients and earn their trust, make yourself as approachable as possible. That way, they know that you have their best interests at heart and that you’re not out to get them.

One of the most frequently asked questions we get is – Can a lawyer change practice areas? The short answer is – yes, they can. A lawyer changing practice area is not uncommon, particularly if they find that they’re not seeing as much business as they would like. In other instances, it’s because they’re not getting the level of fulfillment they once had.

Before you take the plunge, make sure you’re doing it for the right reason. It needs to be a strategic move rather than a reactive one. If your business has slowed down, you need to ask why. It’s a lot easier to uncover the inefficiencies of your existing practice than it is to take on an entirely new law field.

If you’re willing to invest a significant amount of time learning a new practice area and are ready to feel like a rookie again, then, by all means, make the switch! It won’t be easy, but it’s not impossible.

Set Yourself Apart From Pack

There you have it – the top reasons why people hate lawyers. Just because it is one of the least liked professions out there doesn’t mean you should conform to the stereotype. Build a genuine relationship with your clients and be the exception, not the rule. You’ll earn a solid reputation for it.

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