Misconceptions About Lawyers

To properly understand the attorney-client relationship, it’s necessary to do away with common misconceptions. Litigants often begin their legal matters with improper beliefs regarding attorneys, the legal process, and absolutely everything else related to legal action. For that reason, I’d like to dispel some myths pertaining to legal action.

Myth 1: A good lawyer can fix anything.

Many people believe that hiring a “good attorney” is like a “get out of jail free card.” This just isn’t true. Attorneys are not magicians. They cannot turn lead into gold. If you visit your attorney and you’ve already totally botched your case, your attorney might be able to improve the outcome and, in some cases, he or she might even be able to take action to nullify the damage you’ve done. However, don’t expect that. Like any other situation in life, once you ring the bell, the sound is out there. In some instances, your attorney might be able to get the court to cover its ears. It really depends on the details of the circumstances and what opportunities the law provides for you given the specific circumstances.

Myth 2: Lawyers can make guarantees.

Your attorney can’t guarantee a certain outcome. People are used to guarantees when they make purchases, particularly costly ones. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the legal profession, your attorney can’t guarantee you a “win” or anything else. All your attorney can guarantee you is that he or she will perform his or her duties competently and that he or she will work diligently to help you achieve your objectives. While your attorney can take steps to improve the chances of a favorable outcome, the unfortunate fact is that your attorney isn’t able to actually control the outcome of a legal matter. Regrettably, because there are many factors outside the attorney’s control, your attorney cannot make any guarantees.

Myth 3: Your lawyer should be as obsessed with your case as you are.

Your legal matter isn’t personal to your attorney. It’s business. While some clients expect attorneys to be as emotionally invested as the client is, it’s important to remember that professional distance is part of the reason you’re hiring your attorney. Your attorney should remain calm and professional at all times and maintaining a degree of professional distance from your matter enables him or her to do so. This professional distance also allows your attorney to correspond with other parties effectively.

Therefore, don’t be disappointed with your attorney if he or she is friendly to the opposition or the opposition’s attorney. This doesn’t mean that the attorney is “in bed” with the other party, nor does it mean that your attorney isn’t fighting hard for you. Instead, it’s simply a matter of maintaining a professional demeanor and ensuring that civility dominates the legal process.

Myth 4: Lawyers are rich and overpaid.

Attorneys are not all wealthy. Public defenders are often paid similarly to teachers, believe it or not. Even most private attorneys aren’t especially wealthy. Associates are often overworked and underpaid, while partners make the “big bucks.” And for small firm owners/ partners, the cost of practicing law cuts deeply into the profits.

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