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The Forum > Article Comments > The lawyer mindset epidemic > Comments

The lawyer mindset epidemic : Comments

By Ross Buncle, published 22/6/2007

Lofty notions of justice sit awkwardly in the legal world: success depends on strategy, exploitation of loopholes and manipulation of 'the truth'.

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Quite an interesting and wideranging critique of the profession...

... it might interest you to learn that Howard, Ruddock AND Garrett are legally qualified! It's a useful skill for world-class fibbers AND idealists.

Don't write them all off. As lawyers are fond of saying: "everyone hates lawyers until they need one".
Posted by The Skeptic, Friday, 22 June 2007 10:19:57 AM
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Ross

Thanks for a good read. There are, of course, two sides to every argument. My son is a solicitor and I hear his story of how badly lawyers are treated by just about everybody [including judges].
Posted by healthwatcher, Friday, 22 June 2007 10:41:05 AM
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I am a lawyer and I cannot disagree with anything that Ross has said - as far as it goes. However, in the same way as American TV shows (the main source of most Australiansí concept of the law), the author has focused upon the Ďhigh-profileí legal arena of litigation - which, while being everything he has described, is only one part of that huge social institution known as "the Law".

I have long had a fascination with "the Law" - not just our system of Westminster law but all systems of law around the planet. However, like Ross, I have become disgusted by the way litigation has become a club with which to beat people. They say Jews tell the best Jewish jokes; maybe lawyers tell the best lawyer jokes, ergo:

Q: Whatís the difference between sperm and lawyers?
A: Sperm have the possibility of becoming human beings.

Whether we know it or not, the Law is the glue that binds society together. From the highest to the lowest positions within society, there is no activity in which we can engage that is not covered by some aspect of statute or common law. A great deal of the problems arising in society stem from a widespread ignorance of how the law says we must behave. It was my recognition of this fact, together with my aforementioned disgust with litigation, which led my move into the area of legal compliance - educating non-lawyers as to what the law expects of them.

Our legal system is far from perfect but, where major disputes or crimes arise, it is the only game in town. An unfortunate feature of the game is that you only get as much justice as you can afford. I must therefore agree with The Skeptic: "everyone hates lawyers until they need one".
Posted by Doc Holliday, Friday, 22 June 2007 11:15:05 AM
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I agree fully RossÖ.I think.

But this self-centred greed is good mentality pervades just about all sections of our society.

I donít think we can knock lawyers too much for putting the case of their clients in the best possible light, just as long as it is not dishonestly done.

Similarly, we canít knock them for wanting the best imbursement for their efforts that they can get or wanting the best status in society that they can achieve.

It is not the purpose of lawyers to decide what is right or wrong in their clients' cases. So then, can we really blame them for not always treating the law or morality or ethics as the first priority?

That is the job of judges and juries, isnít it?
.

Jeepers, Iíve completely stunned myself with this effort. My brain has come out in support of lawyers (:>0. I think I sit down before I fall over!!
Posted by Ludwig, Friday, 22 June 2007 4:02:07 PM
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Hi Skeptic,

I am well aware that Messrs Howard, Rudd and Garrett have legal backgrounds - it was no accident that these three featured in my article.

Obviously, I agree that legal practitioner experience is a great grounding for "world-class fibbers" - not sure where idealists fit in, though. The few lawyers who make it through with idealism intact are the exceptions I acknowledge in my piece. I'd venture that a fair proportion of these "good guys" end up out of the legal mainstream, and perhaps out of the profession.

As for "everyone hates lawyers until they need one" - well, of course I understand your point, but on the few occasions I have needed legal advice (winding up an estate and the dysfunctional and very nasty family crap that accompanied it), I have resented shelling out ridiculous portions of hard-earned for:

a) some glorified clerk to put through probate - a simple enough task that, for various reasons, none of which make sense to me, many timid folk seem relucant to tackle themselves, or

b) legal representation to fight off a rabid opposition lawyer - a hired thug, basically - who wilfully stoops to all manner of intimidation using legal jargon to avoid rational discussion in lay language that he knows will expose his arguments as fallacious, thus forcing to litigation a matter that could easily have been settled through reasoned negotiation. This is but a ploy that lawyers frequently use to line their pockets, effectively cutting the layperson out of discussion and obliging them to appoint legal representation - unless, like me, the hapless layperson opts to simply cut their losses - personal and financial - before they get any further out of hand, and accept whatever proposal is being "offered". Justice? Where? It's all about who has the bucks to hire the nastiest legal gun, and is prepared to endure.

So no, my perception of lawyers did not improve when I needed one - just the opposite.
Posted by Rolan Stein, Friday, 22 June 2007 6:32:22 PM
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ďA great deal of the problems arising in society stem from a widespread ignorance of how the law says we must behave.Ē

Doc, I think a bigger part of the problem is not knowing just what really applies with the law in a lot of cases. We just canít take for granted that what is written in law actually applies.

Many laws are just blatantly ignored by everyone, including law enforcement authorities. For example; lots of minor road rules.

Others are policed at some value different to what they are supposed to be, eg; speed limits. And others are policed very differently in different places or for different people, or blind-eyed most of the time and then occasionally blitzed.

Getting a handle on this sort of thing is just impossible.

I have a very big gripe against governments, law enforcement authorities and officers over this sloppy policing of the law, and the consequences it can have for people who make every attempt to stick within the bounds of the law as it is policed and as everyone else around them seems to observe, only to get hung out to dry for it sooner or later.

I think this aspect of our law regime deserves much more criticism and remedial attention than the antics or attitudes of lawyers.
Posted by Ludwig, Friday, 22 June 2007 7:43:07 PM
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