WASHINGTON, October 30, 2016 — November 4th is National Love Your Lawyer Day. Kiss yours, or, write a nice review of your lawyer on a social media platform.
National Love Your Lawyer Day was created in 2001 by attorney Nader Anise, who also formed the American Lawyers Public Image Association. which campaigns nationwide to put a halt to lawyer jokes and lawyer bashing. At least for this one day.
Lawyer jokes are sometimes funny. None of them are funny, however, when you find yourself in need a good lawyer.
Disclaimer: The author of this column is a lawyer, his two daughters are lawyers, and many of his friends are lawyers. His much smarter wife is not a lawyer. The author finds all lawyer jokes demeaning but has a sense of humor and doesn’t get too offended if the one telling the joke is a familiar.
Quick: How many lawyer jokes are there? Only three. The rest are true stories.
Since the time of William Shakespeare (“first, let’s kill all the lawyers”), lawyer jokes and lawyer bashing have been an ongoing tradition in society. Despite the bad rap they get, however, lawyers actually do a great deal of good for individuals and society alike.
“Pro bono” is a Latin term that means “for the good of the public.” Traditionally, lawyers do a great deal of “pro bono” work, generally understood as work for which lawyers do not charge for their time or for giving their help and bringing their knowledge and experience to a given task.
People who are poor and who cannot afford to pay for a lawyer get pro bono help from lawyers across the country every day for issues ranging from consumer problems where they have been unwitting victims, to criminal charges for crimes they may or may not have committed. Lawyers also do pro bono work for charities, educational organizations and religious groups. Virtually every state requires lawyers to report on the number of hours they work for free every year.
Lawyers right wrongs. Yet, negative attitudes toward their profession continue to flourish.
What’s the difference between a lawyer and a leech? After you die, a leech stops sucking your blood.
Despite the bad rap they get, America loves to watch lawyers both in print and in action. Portrayals of lawyers and court cases and crime shows involving lawyers still occupy the number one position on American TV. (Author opinion, not authenticated. Okay, if it’s not lawyers in that slot, it’s medical melodramas).
Lawyers are seen in public, in the news and in the entertainment world as both good and bad. Neither opinion is universally true. Fictional or cinematic portrayals of the profession make lawyering seem glamorous, even heroic. Think of those impressive, impassioned closing arguments, like those made by Tom Cruise in “A Few Good Men,” who had been told by Jack Nicholson, “You can’t handle the truth.”
Some television depictions of the profession show lawyers as greedy, unethical and incapable of telling the truth.
What’s the difference between a lawyer and a liar? The pronunciation.
The truth is that the work of a lawyer is often a mind-numbing grind, filled with behind-the-desk reading, writing and endless paperwork. Preparation is a lawyer’s first job.
Negative images of lawyers we often see in the entertainment media are equally not the norm. Yes, there are opportunistic people in every walk of life and there are certainly a few bad apples in this profession. But most lawyers care deeply about professional ethics and their clients. The negative impressions linger because lawyers are advocates, asserting their clients’ side of things. As such, they can be seen as aggressive, overbearing, even insulting. But, if that lawyer happens to be on your side, don’t you want the best the most vigorous and convincing representation in court? Just think about those nasty divorces, business break-ups and family members fighting over the assets of a deceased. How could these ever be resolved without a talented, aggressive attorney at your side?
When the media gets things wrong, or decides to make fun of lawyers, the general public is prone to take away an inaccurate picture that becomes an acceptable reality. Television and radio have a way of putting out “truth” when often nothing they present could be further from the truth.
As an example, examine both the positives and negatives involving political candidates, particularly those running in the current Presidential election. Neither the “truth” and negative spins being offered by the campaigns or the media accurately portray reality. Unfortunately, many people and prospective voters end up believing the spin. And in this environment, negativity sticks.
Whatever their popular image, lawyers have saved more lives than guns, despite what any 2nd Amendment gun-favoring enthusiast might claim. (Another undocumented statistic provided by this author, but he is willing to bet). The proof begins with the hundreds of millions of consumers that are alive and who lived due to the efforts of lawyers to either remove dangerous products from the market or make them safe for continued use.
Over the years, such cases involving consumer advocacy have included exploding cars, blankets that catch fire, foods containing known carcinogens, dangerous medicines and drugs, defective baby cribs and more. Cases continue to include the lives saved by lawyers who have fought on behalf of wrongfully convicted death-row prisoners.
Why don’t sharks eat lawyers swimming in the ocean? Professional courtesy.
Lawyers have fought to make our oceans and roadways and skies safe and to assure that ships, cars, airplanes, bicycles, roller coasters, trampolines and many more things we get into and onto are safe and reliable. Arguably, the efforts of lawyers have also helped make more people healthy than all the food companies in the world combined.
Society needs laws. This is so because a society or government left unchecked would quickly lead to chaos.
When the snake convinced Eve to bite the apple and after she convinced Adam to partake, law in the form of punishment was created. Law thereafter has attached to every society. The first known “codification” of law has been credited to the Babylonian King Hammurabi of Mesopotamia. Hammurabi’s code had 282 laws ranging from specified punishments for various crimes to wages to be paid for services such as driving a wagon. There were also familial laws for divorce, sexual behavior and paternity issues. Even controls for judges were specified: If a judge was found guilty of judging incorrectly, he was fined.
Laws have evolved and today have become very complicated. Take the Federal Tax code—please.
Clearly, today there is a real need for lawyers to interpret, to apply, and to assert for you when your situation is in conflict with that of someone else. Lawyers are hired every day to represent people charged with crimes and to work in virtually every aspect of modern endeavor.
Lawyers advise people on contemplated actions, prevent problems, save their clients’ money, and interpret rules and regulations. They do these things because the average person does not know or understand the applicable laws. Examples include starting a business, reviewing a contract, drafting a Last Will and Testament and pointing out the pros and cons of filing or defending a lawsuit.
Not having a lawyer can land people in jail. Should a criminal defendant plead guilty or “take a deal?” Who will orchestrate the case defense and hire an investigator to prove the police and government wrong?
Not having a lawyer to represent you can often result in significant financial losses and prevent recovery of money that is due. Disputed civil claims of significance are determined in courts with procedural and evidentiary rules not easily understood or applied by non-lawyers.
How does a victim of medical malpractice obtain money from the negligent doctor or hospital? If the main wage earner in a family is killed in a car accident, how does the family get the money lost? Who makes the claim for a wrongfully fired employee? Who fights for and rights the wrongs of victims of age, race, gender and sexual discrimination? A just resolution of such cases requires professional representation. Next, thank your lawyer for what he or she has done or is doing for you. Finally, tell at least some of your friends and associates that your lawyer is an okay cowboy.
And thank you Mr. Anise. A very much needed commemorative day for the legal profession now exists.
Paul A. Samakow is an attorney licensed in Maryland and Virginia, and has been practicing since 1980. He represents injury victims and routinely battles insurance companies and big businesses that will not accept full responsibility for the harms and losses they cause. He can be reached at any time by calling 1-866-SAMAKOW (1-866-726-2569), via email, or through his website.
His book “The 8 Critical Things Your Auto Accident Attorney Won’t Tell You” can be instantly downloaded, for free, on his website: http://www.samakowlaw.com/book.
Samakow has now also started a small business consulting firm. His new book “Step By Step, Achieve Small Business Success” is available at www.thebusinessanswer.com.