It is wrong to stereotype people. Thankfully, our society is good at identifying and condemning bigotry. Nevertheless, anti-lawyer jokes and rhetoric have become an acceptable part of American culture.
Now I’m the first to admit that my profession is flawed. There certainly are attorneys who abuse the system. That does not mean that all lawyers are corrupt. Individual doctors have been convicted of Medicaid fraud. No one would ever suggest that all doctors are corrupt because of the crimes of the few. There are attorneys that I would rank among the finest people I have ever known. The legal profession is honorable when practiced honorably.
Lawyers must take it upon ourselves to improve the image of our profession. One way is to lead by example. Former Hawaii State Bar President Wayne Parsons addressing the Hawaii bar, recently wrote the following:
The maintenance of the highest standards of professionalism in the law, in the country that has inspired the people of the world with the “rule of law”, begins with respecting what we do each day, respecting ourselves and respecting the law enough that we will not tolerate anything but excellence in what we do, demand ethics that are impeccable and respect people – attorneys and non-attorneys – that we encounter each and every day in and out of work.
I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Parsons. Attorneys must demand ethics from ourselves, our clients, and our opponents. Once this respect permeates the system, our profession will regain its rightful stature with the public.