Non-attorneys always seem to have some pretty significant misconceptions about my profession.  Perhaps cheesy movies and TV dramas, and even cheesier TV ads, have helped to create those misconceptions.  This post is meant to provide readers the truth about the legal profession.  So, if ‘you can handle the truth’, read on.

Popular Misconception #1:  All Lawyers Know Everything About Every Law Ever Written

The law is extremely vast.  Therefore, it would be impossible for any lawyer to know everything about every legal practice area.  In fact, it would even be impossible for any lawyer to know everything about a particular practice area.  For example, have you ever seen a book containing the United States tax code and regulations?  It’s really thick, and it’s not the only source of tax law; there are also IRS publications and court decisions interpreting the tax code and the regulations.  Therefore, it would be impossible for even the most intelligent and experienced tax lawyer to know everything about tax law.

In addition, much of the law is very unclear.  I once had a client tell me: “There is no gray area in the law.”  If only she knew how wrong she was.  It is very common for different judges to interpret a seemingly unambiguous statute differently.  Furthermore, although the law is extremely vast, real life is infinitely vaster.  Therefore, there are plenty of situations which arise in real life which the laws have not yet addressed.

Consequently, most lawyers, like other professionals, are highly specialized in a particular area.  When a good lawyer is faced with an issue outside his or her area of knowledge, they tell their client “I don’t know, but I know where to research to find the answer.”  If the lawyer determines that there is no definitive answer to your question, he or she should be honest about that fact, and provide his or her opinion concerning how the court is likely to decide upon the issue.

That is just one popular misconception about the legal profession.  I will share a few more with you in my next few posts.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.  How do you view attorneys?  What are some popular misconceptions about your profession?