Everywhere you look, lawyers are taking public image in the newspaper, online, and in the news. The most frequent joke I hear is that lawyers are doctors who flunked out of med school. The most prominent image of lawyers appears to be the greasy ambulance chasing attorney.
Just last week, while my wife was recuperating from having our first child in the hospital, she told the nurse I was an attorney and was met with a dismissive stare and told “we would rather not know that one of our patients or their family member is an attorney.”
Assuming there is an image problem, what can be done to fix it?
Always make time for pro bono work
Finding a couple of hours a month for pro bono work is never easy. You might have to get up early or stay late to make up for the lost time. Maybe you will miss out on a personal event. But it is important work.
You are helping someone in need. If not for you, this person may have to work through the court system with little or no help. Not only are you helping them, you are hopefully showing them that lawyers are motivated by much more than money.
Consider non-legal volunteer work
It is easy to try and seek out volunteer opportunities that involve legal work or somehow will take advantage of your lawyer skills. But you should also consider volunteer work where you are not being utilized as an attorney, you are just another set of hands looking to help out.
There is no better way to show your positive impact by getting involved with your local community. The only problem with pro bono work is that it rarely integrates you with the people in your neighborhood. Find something that helps you get to know your neighbors and lets them get to know you.
We might not be doctors, but lawyers also do a lot more than chase ambulances.