It isn’t easy being a lawyer. And there isn’t just one answer to the question of how to improve the image of lawyers. One answer will do for today: Lawyers must continue to make a real difference in the life of each client, love us or hate us.
Let me begin by saying I don’t know what the image of a lawyer is supposed to be. I know many, many lawyers, and each is unique. All these lawyers have so much in common with each other, and with nonlawyers I know! One common thread among lawyers is a deep appreciation for the rule of law. The one trying to bring order to the chaos, begin dialog where there is angry silence, develop opportunity where there is scarcity, or debate to bring clarity– that is the lawyer.
“Chaos”, “angry silence”, “scarcity” and “debate” are not the dream words of public relations. But lawyers cannot avoid wading into difficult, often life and death matters, because of bad publicity. Substance must prevail over style. But you know that.
What you may not know is that all the work you do on a daily basis for people with limited or no income, for marginalized and unpopular clients, for charitable organizations and for the very personal and private causes you hold dear, is work that cannot be assailed. Lawyers distinguish themselves above every other profession in that we invented and have nurtured the concept of pro bono publico—for the public good–we put it in writing and we live and work by that rule.