“Are You Penny Wise & Pound Foolish? Part 4A: Why We Hate Lawyers”

“DEFINITION OF A LAWYER:  A cat who settles a dispute between 2 mice.” -jokesaboutlawyers.com

At long last, Mentor Mama is bringing you the fourth article in the series, “Are You Penny Wise & Pound Foolish?”  Today, Mentor Mama is going to teach you a little bit about…….dare I say it????  LAWYERS!

For many, this almost unspeakable profession is synonymous with such famous con artists as “Billy Flynn”, the lawyer from the musical Chicago, who gave the people around him “the old razzle-dazzle” or  “Svengali” the fictional hypnotist who could bend a  subject’s mind to his bidding.  Most people see lawyers, as manipulative and opportunistic:  Characters that are a little shady and around whom you must watch your back.  So, until you find yourself in a car accident or getting sued, you avoid them….they dig up trouble, overcharge, and are just bad news.

In many cases, the stereotype is well-deserved.  There have been and still are lawyers that misuse their power and succumb to the lure of greed.  This is especially heinous because lawyers are charged with a fiduciary duty to protect and care for their clients.

“Let it be said that NO EXCUSE CAN BE MADE for lawyers that overcharge, ignore their duties or in any way take advantage of another person.”

Now, if we have the lawyer bashing out of the way, I challenge you to consider an additional world-view.  As an Entrepreneur, you NEED the services of an attorney, so let’s take a look at some possible reasons why people who have never been wronged by an attorney, would HATE attorneys:

1.)    Attorneys Speak and Write in a Language We Do Not Understand. No one likes being out of the loop.  We like to know what’s happening and what lies in store for us.  Lawyers engage in communications that leave us shaking our heads.  We turn our lives over to these scoundrels and how do we know that they aren’t selling us down the river?  We hate attorneys because we hate relinquishing control.

2.)    Most People Have Dealt With An  Attorney In A Crisis. When bad things are happening in our lives – divorce, accident, lawsuit, job loss –  no matter what the outcome, we are still unhappy.  Despite excellent legal representation, you still lost your spouse, broke your back, lost a lot of money, or suffered the humiliation of discrimination.  We hate attorneys because we hate the unhappiness that they represent.

3.)    Attorneys Charge Outrageous Fees. No matter how you deny it, we all resent rich, powerful people. (Until we become one of them!)  Lawyers have acquired knowledge that is generally unavailable to the public. They charge bucket- loads of money because they save you truck-loads of money; they defend you against serious injustice; or they get you out of big messes that you usually created yourself.  When Mentor Mama was in law school, she swore that someone would pay for the endless hours she spent in the library, while you were at the beach, away for the weekend or partying with your friends.  We hate attorneys because we fail to appreciate the value that they bring to the table.

4.)    Attorneys Bring Up Problems That Will Never Happen. They start blabbering on about ridiculous situations.  They put in extraneous clauses and then CHARGE us for them!  A competent attorney has many years of experience in matters just like yours.  She has seen many people suffer because they did not take adequate precautions.  If you were trained to foresee such issues and to know what to do about them, you wouldn’t need a lawyer.  Lawyers look at the big picture and force you to take your head out of the sand. We hate attorneys because they tell us things we don’t want to hear.

I know that you won’t start loving lawyers.  I hope, however, that you will consider reframing some of these issues.  There are MANY compassionate, dedicated lawyers who have spent their professional lives protecting and supporting people just like you.


5 people like this post.

25 Responses to ““Are You Penny Wise & Pound Foolish? Part 4A: Why We Hate Lawyers””

  1. Chris McCargar Says:

    OOOOOOWEEEEEEEE!…there’s some lawyer bashin’ goin’ on over here!

    Reminds me of that line from the Blake Edwards’ movie “S.O.B.”… when the Hollywood “Doctor to the STARS” is called a “shyster” by a patient’s husband.

    Seemingly unoffended by the barb, He quickly retorts, “…a ‘Shyster’ is a lawyer, I’m a ‘Quack’!”

    Sounds like “somebody” had a nasty experience with a lawyer?! I wouldn’t entirely disagree with you though, Momma. Hearing details about some of the cases in both the civil and criminal justice system often made me look at them with a jaundiced eye.

    Having said that, I have come across a good many responsible lawyers. Personally, I would prefer to be covered for most eventualities and not have to be overly concerned later about paying a settlement that might otherwise have been a non-issue.

    Great reading… thoroughly enjoyed it!
    Chris McCargar´s last [type] ..Yes- You Can Have It ALL


    Nancy Reply:

    Thanks Chris!

    I appreciate your comments!

    I have never been taken advantage of by a lawyer, since I have been one from a very young age! : ) I have been very fortunate to work with exceptional lawyers, who have been extremely moral, responsible people. Sadly, though, the bad ones ruin it for everyone….pretty typical in all professions!

    Hopefully, I can help people to see that it is often a matter of perception and sometimes we judge unfairly.

    Mentor Mama


  2. rebecca russell Says:

    My grandson just recently had a bad experience with his lawyer. It has been a difficult growing up for him, but when he needed him, he did not show up in court because…he was not dealing with this particular issue.
    Right…you hire someone to represent you, do they not go to the end of the deal????

    I was not a happy camper.

    Thanks for the post,
    rebecca russell´s last [type] ..KOKOPELLI AND PLANTING SEEDS!


    Nancy Reply:

    Hi Rebecca!

    I am sorry to hear that your grandson had a bad experience. As with any other activity, it is important to be a good consumer and be very clear about what services are included and what services will be extra or nor provided at all.

    Asking questions and clarifying everything is always a good practice.

    I hope that he will be able to sort things out and find a lawyer that he has confidence in.

    Thanks so much for visiting and leaving a comment!

    Mentor Mama


  3. Ziz Says:

    Mentor Mama,

    Having a lawyer that protects your interests makes sense to me and as you mentioned – its better to engage a lawyer prior to being in crisis. Some of my best friends are lawyers…….!


  4. Beth Stowers Says:

    I love this article and it is a great approach you take to go over some of the reasons we may have a hard time with lawyers. When we unearth the reasons for our thinking, it helps us challenge those and hopefully turn things around for the better. There is a negative stereotype of lawyers, unfortunately.

    Having an attorney can do so much to protect your business or even your personal life. I have been in many circumstances where I have needed a lawyer and didn’t have one. My husband and I became a bit wiser and started using an attorney.

    Having an attorney available has also helped me to leverage my time, so I can work on my business and not get caught up in the details.

    One can find a good attorney through recommendations, too. There are a lot of decent lawyers.

    I took a media law class in college, so I got to hang out in the law library and got to do lots of research work. I only had to take one law class and can’t fully appreciate all that you did. But, man, I’m so sure that there’s some work involved in getting a law degree. ;) Way to go!

    Thanks for such a fantastic article!


  5. Andrew Sayers - Personal Development Says:

    I was wondering where this post was heading! As someone who’s had to use the services of lawyers both personally and profssionally, I’ve never had any issues. Do they cost a heap of money? Sure. Do they get rich of other people’s horrible situations? Absolutely. I’m not going to attempt to sit in judgement. It’s not what I’d choose to do for a living but when I’ve needing a lawyer, they’ve always come through. And as with many things, there’s something to be said to getting what you pay for and buying from a recommended source.

    Wishing you well.


    Andrew Sayers – Personal Development´s last [type] ..Give- give and give some more Click away to an easier post now if being asked to give offends you- no harm- no foul


  6. Gail Foley Says:

    Hi Nancy,

    Very interesting viewpoint on lawyers. And yes, it appears when we need one we are in a crisis of some kind…sorta distorts our perception at the time.

    I belong to a prepaid program and have had to engage with them twice and both times it was a rewarding experience. Now I must admit I wasn’t fond of the time it took my husband’s chosen ‘family’ lawyer to process our wills, but I can’t say I hate lawyers. I think there are bad mixed in with good in every profession.

    And like you said, there are MANY compassionate, caring, dedicated lawyers that will have your best interest at heart. Unfortunately, sometimes they have to tell you what you don’t want to hear…just so you are informed. And, oh boy, when you need one, their knowledge is

    Thanks, Nancy, for your great reflection. I look forward to seeing your next series.

    With a smile,

    Gail Foley´s last [type] ..Are You Listening


  7. Darlene Davis Says:

    Some of my best friends are attorneys. Discussing issues with them is eye-opening. Too bad that this artful profession has been given such a bad rap. I’m always amazed how one rotten apple can spoil the bushel.
    Darlene Davis´s last [type] ..Stranger Dilemma- Assist or Report


  8. Nat Says:

    Hey Nancy

    Interesting article…. would love to see one written like this on judges!!

    I often wonder what goes on in the mind of a lawyer, they just think so differently to anyone else I know. I love the angle you have taken in this post, I personally have nothing against lawyers…. maybe that’s because I have never found myself in the situation to need one :-) Many friends that are, some that definitely deserve a smacking and others, that like you say, do everything they can to protect and support
    great post
    Nat´s last [type] ..Easy To Follow Steps For Hosting Your Own Videos


  9. Debbie Stevens Says:

    Being a CPA, I have dealt with many attorneys with my clients. It seemed to me that a lot of them had a chip on their shoulder. After your article, I just want to say, No Wonder! It would be very difficult to be in a profession where everyone disliked you without ever giving you a chance. Thanks for shedding some light on this subject. Great post as always.
    Debbie Stevens´s last [type] ..Running – A New Frontier


  10. Gary Young China Sourcing Says:

    The only thing I disagree with is that I have never resented the rich. They create jobs and opportunities. As to lawyers, the only think that bothers me is the control aspect. My attitude is that they work for me and not the other way around. And I guess I have this secret distrust for lawyers who get together to “rig the game” and stretch things out on both sides to keep game paying longer than it needs to. Wow, now I am bashing lawyers! Sorry about that. I guess it comes down to finding a good lawyer and building a business relationship with, just like anyone else.
    Gary Young China Sourcing´s last [type] ..Links for 2010-09-24 delicious


  11. Alexander Hay Says:

    No reason to start loving lawyers. As a lawyer myself, I often detest them. On the other hand being morbidly afraid of them is just foolish. And dangerous. Ignorance is our greatest enemy, and nothing enforces ignorance quite as surely as fear.

    I must concede one point: Lawyers do have a tendency to go on about things that can go wrong. But that is our training. Much as engineers focus on the weakest link in the chain of design, lawyers focus on what can go wrong in order to avoid the circumstance. It just gets out of hand sometimes.


  12. Linnea Says:

    Hi Nancy,

    I think lawyers get a bad rap in general…but they also get the last laugh. I have nothing against the profession. Know folks who have had both good and bad experiences. One of the reasons they take such hits is the perception that they tend to charge for an hour of time for every 5 minute phone call. As with any profession, there are most certainly bad apples who can spoil it for others.
    Linnea´s last [type] ..Top 5 for SEO


  13. Alan Eames Says:

    Hi Nancy,

    I have never been mistreated by a lawyer, felt overcharged on occasion, but always got the help or advice I sought. I’ve found Pre-Paid Legal a viable alternative for many matters and wish I had had it when I had my repair business years ago.

    All the best,


  14. Pat and Lorna Shanks Says:


    Loved this post. It’s cool how you point out why people might not like lawyers and that just like any other profession, there are a few who spoil it for the rest. We’ve had very good experiences with lawyers and do understand how they are a part of our business “team”.

    ~ Pat & Lorna


  15. Debbie Lattuga Says:

    And the alternative can be said that a good attorney is worth 10 times his weight in gold. Find yourself one good one (ours is our real estate attorney) then network him to find good ones when you need them.
    Debbie Lattuga´s last [type] ..What is Your Business Avatar


  16. Rob Wilson Says:

    Hi Mentor Mama!

    Heather had to use a lawyer for help with her disability claim. He was actually wonderful and it was a good experience – sure it cost money, but we were unsuccessful in getting the claim approved without him and he was helpful and understanding and dealt with it quickly.

    Heather also talked with some disability attorneys when she was trying to attend school and was having some trouble with access. Some of them were helpful and some were terrible. So that was a mixed experience.

    I dealt with some attorney services in working on my business so far an d that has been a good experience so far. I think sometimes you need attorneys because things are complicated and you need them to sort things out. I can’t understand everything in the world – so attorneys help make sure everything is in place where it ought to be. – Rob
    Rob Wilson´s last [type] ..I am not a number and other things you shouldnt say in public


  17. penny@lincoln lawyer Says:

    I think lawyer bashing is a creation of big business and insurance companies. Lawyers make life better, just look at your history lessons. From ending what was essentially child slavery, protecting freedom speech, to reducing discrimination. Those that oppress the people to retain their wealth and power make us believe lawyers are the problem, when in fact they are the solution.


  18. Arlan Murata Says:

    Hey Nancy: This is great value. Like getting the inside scoop from someone that has been on both sides of the fence. Appreciate your valuable knowledge. Thank you, my friend.


  19. Jim Collins Says:

    Great post. It is common perception that lawyers are shysters and con-artists that are out to steal our money and not much more. Look at all the lawyer jokes. The sad fact is, as you point out, that there are many more good, honest lawyers than bad ones, but it only takes one to spoil the barrel.
    I believe that part of the problem is that lawyers are, well, lawyers. They are not PR experts and frequently don’t represent themselves well to the general public. Part of this is just basic communication and as you also point out, since they speak a different language, this complicates things. As a technical writer, I firmly believe that most of “lawyer-speak” could be written/said in plain language and nothing would be lost, but that would go against all their teaching and tradition (and tradition is a hard thing to change).
    I do believe that with CRMs and other tools, lawyers can improve their image because these tools will help them communicate and work better with their clients. Better communication and understanding makes for happier clients who are more likely to say something good about you.
    Jim Collins´s last [type] ..October HAMP Report Shows Numbers Improved But Still Disappointing


  20. Monika Genehr Says:

    Nancy, I have also been under the impression that “Lawyers have acquired knowledge that is generally unavailable to the public.” Until I, in a time of great need, came across Dr. Frederick Graves, the lawyer who has made it his mission to dispel that myth and to educate the public (for example me) about, believe it or not, how to win in court with or without a lawyer: http://how-to-win-in-court.pro-se-help.com I was amazed at how simple it can be to understand the law and how to make it work so that justice prevails.


  21. Patrick McIntosh Says:

    We love to hate lawyers. I identified with “We fail to realize the value that they bring to the table.” Often we think of the injury layers on TV adds that will want to sue McDonald’s for hot coffee burns. Loved this post.
    Patrick McIntosh´s last [type] ..Freeride World Tour Kirkwood Stop



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