By David Allen Green, media correspondent of The Lawyer

Why are lawyers hated?

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  • Jerome K Jerome put it best, in Three Men in a Boat:
    "If a man stopped me in the street, and demanded of me my watch," observed Jerome, "I should refuse to give it to him. If he threatened to take it by force, I feel I should, though not a fighting man, do my best to protect it.
    "If, on the other hand, he should assert his intention of trying to obtain it by means of an action in any court of law, I should take it out of my pocket and hand it to him, and think I had got off cheaply."
    This illustrates the problem, if you get lawyers involved, the costs escalate quickly, to the point where you will often settle, even though you feel you are in the right, because the costs of losing are so magnified by the lawyers' fees.
    The law isn't mysterious, most of what I have read could be inferred by common sense and logic. Perhaps the internet will help demystify it, so people feel confident taking on an opponent without legal counsel. When that starts to happen, the supply of lawyers may start to exceed demand and the price of legal advice may become more affordable.

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  • As I write this, the header/advert to this page reads,"Connect with legal experts you can trust" . Does this mean there are some that we can't? Some so untrustworthy that a costly advert is required to point to someone who is? Might The Lawyer point it's readers to the trustworthy ones pro bono?

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  • @Hamish Atkinson

    You're right in so far as getting lawyers involved makes things more expensive, sometimes drastically so. The same could be said about hiring any other professional in any other capacity or context. People pay for the expertise not because they are entirely ignorant of how to accomplish 'x' but because they desire the security of having an expert to consult on the matter.

    You're also right that the law isn't entirely mysterious. It is possible to look it up and see things online that appear common-sensical and logical. The internet has indeed done much to demystify the law and make it more accessible just as it has in general for all sorts of information. When it comes to actually applying that information though, it's probably more sensible to hire someone with experience doing so as it will never be possible to have a conclusive answer as to the results of every possible factual scenario simply by reading up on a subject in general. Lest you are happy to run the risk of getting something drastically wrong and to great detriment.

    A lawyer would probably respond to Jerome K Jerome by saying that he would hope him to try to take it by court action, for the lawyer would know the action to be highly unlikely to succeed (depending on all the relevant facts, of course).

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  • "The job of the lawyer is deal with special forms of words, and the worldly implications that those words can have in any given situation".

    Words are symbols of symbols twice removed from reality. A Nietzsche put it.

    “Words are but symbols for the relations of things to one another and to us; nowhere do they touch upon absolute truth.... Through words and concepts we shall never reach beyond the wall off relations, to some sort of fabulous primal ground of things.”
    ? Friedrich Nietzsche, Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks

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