Improve Your Professional Reputation by Dispelling These Common Stereotypes Waged Against Lawyers

Some good tips from Amanda Green to dispel common stereotyping of attorneys:

All professions face stereotypes--all humans, in fact. The following are common stereotypes waged at lawyers. These stereotypes are, obviously, not true of every lawyer, but have spurned countless jokes and harmed many reputations. If you’re a lawyer losing business or self-esteem to these problematic notions, check out our suggestions for dispelling the myths and ending the jokes.


There are No Good Lawyers

A popular joke starts with the question, “Why won’t sharks attack lawyers?”

The answer is, “Professional courtesy.”

Lawyers are perceived as sharks, willing to go after what they want, no matter who gets victimized in the process. The common misconception about attorneys is that they’d represent the devil if it would earn them more money.


How to Dispel the Stereotype

Of course, it can’t be true that all lawyers are evil, because there are over a million lawyers in the United States alone. Attorneys are people too and they have human feelings, thus leading to emotional decision making, honesty, trust – and all of the other human emotions considered to be good. The best way to dispel this stereotype is, simply, to be emotionally invested in your work and clients.


All Lawyers Lie

Despite so much evidence to the contrary, people still like to apply the “liar” stereotype to lawyers. An article titled, “Why Lawyers Are Liars,” published by the Washington Post, pinpoints some legitimate reasons and sources as to why lawyers lie, but it doesn’t state the very obvious:

Despite widespread belief, not all lawyers are dishonest.


How to Dispel the Stereotype

It may be necessary to provide potential clients and the general public with proof of attorney honesty. Show them cases you won through ethical arguments. Or, you can provide proof of honesty by offering low minimums on billable hours. You can quickly dispel this stereotype by providing evidence of lawyers rising above the call of duty to be honest. Tell them Abraham Lincoln was a lawyer and he may very well be history’s most honest man.


Personal Injury Lawyers are all Ambulance Chasers

People have this notion that personal injury attorneys hang around emergency rooms, waiting for ambulances to pull in with the perfect client. This stereotype is laughable at best, but it’s all too common and can really be detrimental to an attorney’s professional reputation. After so many years of college and hard work, a personal injury attorney is reduced to the punch line in a joke about chasing ambulances.  


How to Dispel the Stereotype

You can dispel this stereotype simply by asking, “When was the last time you ran into a lawyer in the emergency room?” Most people never have, because personal injury attorneys don’t rely on hospitals to garner their business. They rely on smart advertising and their reputations for providing help to those in need.

If you’re still unable to convince a person that a personal injury lawyer isn’t a slime ball, remind them of the service these lawyers do.

Imagine a person is drunk driving and side-swipes an 18-wheeler, killing the driver and injuring many others. Accidents involving tractor-trailers tend to be very serious and costly, so a lawyer is sought after by the victims who can't afford their medical bills. Ask them how this can be perceived as bad, when these people so desperately needed--and received--service.


Keep Fighting the Good Fight

If you’re a good, honest and ethical lawyer, you simply need to continue practicing law to provide proof to the world that you exist. If someone begins telling lawyer jokes or being inappropriate, you have two choices. You can politely listen to the joke. Or, you can kindly explain that those types of jokes hurt and promote stereotypes. Do the latter and you’re doing your part to help dispel stereotypes.   


Author Bio: Amanda Green is a freelance writer who loves to write on legailty, marketing and personal finance. In her spare time she loves to try new dishes in the kitchen and maintain a healthy lifestyle. 

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Mitch Jackson - October 14, 2013 12:53 PM

Amanda- Great post. When I hear or see lawyers "joking" about these topics and actually telling stories to help promote these myths, it makes me sad. We work hard to help people and to fight corporate greed and companies that put profits over people. One way lawyers can now share their true story on social is to be themselves. Talk about their family, passions and weekend soccer games. Discuss concerns about a particular law or case and why this harms the consumer. Use easy to understand words and metaphors to make your point. Be real and be honest. Build trust and rapport with your clients and friends. Tell a client what you're going to do and then do MORE. Doing all of this will help displace these myths. OK. I'm off my soapbox. Thanks :-)

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