That could easily be answered in one word, honesty. But really, a longer answer is required. That’s because lawyers are not trusted by many in the general public.
One 2014 survey seeked to rank public perception of trustworthiness by profession or occupation. Lawyers ranked in the same area as prostitutes.
A more recent Rasumssen poll concludes that 43 percent of the general public doesn’t trust lawyers.
I have heard, but I cannot confirm, that when one polls trustworthiness from the general public based on the type of lawyer, criminal defense lawyers rank at or near the bottom. Well below prosecutors.
I have seen this lack of trust from time to time in my practice. Sometimes, it’s a client asking the same question over and over from month to month. Once, when I was in the public defender’s office, I had a client in custody ask me what his case “carried.” I realized he asked me the exact same question at the last court date a month before.
“Didn’t you ask me that question on the last court date?”
“What did I tell you the last time?”
“6-30 years in prison.” (I let him know the answer to that question wasn’t going to change from court date to court date).
Now that I am in private practice, I have had a number of people approach me to ask me legal questions about their case, or a loved one’s case.
“So, your (loved one) needs a criminal defense lawyer?”
“Oh no. He has a lawyer.” (I inform the person to ask that person’s lawyer).
Given the lack of trust the public has with lawyers, it’s really not surprising that someone comes to me to “double-check” someone else. I would not be surprised if a lawyer has been contacted to “double-check” me. In some instances, I am given a question and told that the lawyer they have isn’t answering it……or sometimes isn’t giving what they believe to be a straight answer.
No honest lawyer is going to give you an answer, knowing that it’s the answer you want to hear, unless it happens to also be the truth. The job of any criminal defense lawyer is to do two fundamental things: 1. Give rock solid, honest legal advice that maps out options and choices for the client; and 2. Once the client makes a choice, do the best one can to accomplish what the client wants.
In this Law Office’s endeavor to do excellent work in accomplishing these two objectives for each and every client, this Office will guarantee every client (and their interested family members) that for every question that is asked, the client will get either 1. A direct answer to every question posed, or 2. to the extent that the question can’t immediately be answered, this Office will say so, state why the question can’t be answered and what the Office needs to find out in order to give the best answer possible.
If any client feels that this Office is violating that guarantee, that client should fire this Law Office and hire someone else. This Office will not promise a client an answer that the client wants to hear, unless it happens to be the truthful answer to the question. But you’ll always get direct, straightforward answers in the process.