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5 Myths About Law Students and Lawyers That Need to Stop

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By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on July 21, 2016 1:15 PM

People tend to think in broad generalities and they can hardly be blamed for it. The public has its stereotypes about every profession, whether it be programmer, teacher, or doctor. As for lawyers, the stereotypes can be flattering at first, and a little annoying later on.

Here are a few generalities about lawyers a lot of people can't seem to shake.

1. We're All Litigators: FALSE

Thanks to Hollywood and popular media, there's a myth out there that all lawyers who use their license make it a regular thing to walk into court and cross swords with opposing counsel. Another myth is that every lawyer handles relevant and sexy cases.

No, not all lawyers are litigators. It's more like all movies are about litigators. Can you imagine a movie about a lawyer who makes his bread by reviewing contract negotiations? Exactly.

2. We're All Rich: FALSE

Of all the myths on this list, this is the one that gets most lawyers (who aren't rich) really mad. A fair number of lawyers got into the business of law because they were looking for a pot of gold. In fact, those lawyers were once part of the callow minded public who believed that all lawyers struck it rich. Boy, what a splash of cold water that must have been when realization finally settled in.

We've all read the numbers. A good number of grads are up to their scalps in debt. People unfortunately conflate the experiences of many T14 grads with those in the rest of the T100 pie. The point is this: most lawyers have to worry about bills, too.

3. We Know Every Aspect of the Law: FALSE

"You're a lawyer? Hey, I've got a question ..."

Gawd, we hate that question. It means that we'll be forced into the uncomfortable position of having to deflect a potential client's business (or more likely an annoying acquaintance's) or look foolish. Either way, it's not the position we prefer to be in.

Most people simply have NO idea just how massive and complex "the law" is. Take a look at employment law, for instance -- or better yet, the federal tax code. In order for you to know all aspects of the law, you'd have to be some sort of savant.

4. Law Students Are Destined for Eventual Greatness: FALSE

This one hardly can be believed. Some studies out there should convince everyone who reads them that a lot of people don't go on to bundles of cash later on. And people who conflate law grads with lawyers? Think about all those who don't ever pass the bar exam!

5. We're All Devoid of Human Emotion: FALSE

No, lawyers are not devoid of human feeling. Some lawyers may lack compassion, but this should not be confused with lack of feeling. A fair number of lawyers who practice pro bono have ample supplies of compassion. If anything, compassion is the reason pro bono even exists.

Although we don't mind being called greedy and sneaky on occasion, we lawyers really take umbrage at being portrayed as cold robots. In fact, in an effort to avoid being replaced by actual robots, lawyers are now focusing on being more human.

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