What do you think when you hear lawyer? You might think intelligent, driven people who want to shape culture for the better by working with the laws they believe are just and by helping people understand and fight the laws that are not.
But I doubt it.
Most people think lawyer and their minds start pulling up colorful adjectives and cute names. Slimy, snake, shark, unscrupulous, and my personal favorite since I like vampire fiction, blood-sucker.
So why? Are lawyers really these underhanded, backstabbing bastards?
Speaking as one, I’d say no. You ask the average person if they were ever ripped off by a lawyer and they either say, “Well, no, but I know this person who had this bad experience,” or they say they had a contested divorce, tried to sue for an injury, or got into a dispute with their landlord or neighbors over something small, and that their lawyer was useless and the other side’s lawyer was evil because they did this, this, and that to win
Now, there are always going to be actual unscrupulous snake sharks that take advantage of people in every profession and walk of life, but you know that’s not the majority. For one, lawyers have a code of ethics we must follow or we get disciplined, maybe even lose our license to practice. Ripping off a client, I mean actually ripping them off not just being expensive, is lawyers’ murder one, that’s pretty much the worst thing you can do and you will lose your license once you’re caught.
So what do people mean when they say they got ripped off? They mean lawyers are expensive, they didn’t win, the lawyer wouldn’t take their case because they couldn’t pay the lawyer, ect…
And, most importantly, they mean they don’t understand what goes into it, all they know is how much they have to pay, and they don’t believe it could actually be worth that much.
Once I’ve dug down into people’s stories (because I’m one of the few good lawyers, meaning they know me as a person and not just as my career, they talk to me 🙂 it usually comes out that the lawyer was expensive and/or the person didn’t win their case. And since they don’t know every single step and everything that goes into a lawyer’s education so they can actually do those steps, the people think the lawyer’s ripping them off.
It’s understandable, and we all do it. I don’t towards lawyers because I know what goes into our education and I’m starting to see just how much goes into a case.
The profession I don’t trust and I’m always bitching about and think they’re all unscrupulous hacks who rip off innocent, wide eyed girls?
My car’s in the shop and I was bitching to my bf that they were going to tell me a ton of stuff was wrong and had to replaced now and it’d be $1000. (I don’t know yet, it’s still over there.) Even though my bf has gone to them before, his friends who know cars go to them when they’re in over their heads, and they are convinced these guys are professionals who’d never rip off customers because that’s bad for business once it gets out, I still have this bias.
Why? Because I don’t understand cars. I’m clueless. All I know is it’s been running fine but the check engine light’s been on for almost a year. (Had to take it in because it couldn’t pass emissions with the stupid light on.)
That’s where I got the idea for this post. Because my bf made me start digging down into why I was convinced these mechanics, who’ve been nothing but good to him and even me in the past for little things, were going to rip me off. Was I ever ripped off by a mechanic before? Well, not that I know of. But how would I know since I don’t know cars?
That’s when it hit me. I don’t know cars. That means I’m vulnerable and at the mercy of tradesmen. They could rip me off and I wouldn’t know it. If they come back and say these things are wrong and it’ll be this much to replace, I’ll probably agree to it (unless it’s absolutely ridiculous) because I won’t know if they’re lying.
Same with non-lawyers and lawyers. Lay people in this area don’t know the law and what goes into a case, all they know is the bill, so they wouldn’t know they were getting ripped off if they were. And since there’s no way it could actually cost that much to do whatever in the case, the lawyer must be ripping them off.
What are some other professions with a generally bad rep? Used car salesmen don’t count because we know those ones actually do rip off people 😉 Dig through your brain. Have you actually ever been ripped off by them, or do you just think it’s possible (even likely) since it was expensive and you don’t know what goes into it?
Now, if the mechanics call me and say it’s anything more than $500, I’m going to be throwing a hissy fit and possibly take it to my bf’s friend Robert to fix instead (because he’s the good mechanic I know, meaning he fixes my car for me paying him gas money to come out this far and feeding him dinner), because there’s no way it could possibly cost that much 🙂 Being aware of your biases and actually overcoming them are two very different things 🙂