Some say that lawyers being unfairly demonized:

“We’ve been hit by a very expensive, well-financed public-relations offensive by special interests bent on changing the subject from accountability and responsibility for their actions to creating a new bogeyman,” says Richard Taylor, chief executive of the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, which has more than 4,000 members. “We’re it.”

Most of his group’s members represent individuals who claim injury by faulty products, negligence, accidents or malpractice, but the taint is spreading even to members of firms that represent business and industry. “There’s no doubt the profession is under assault,” says Willis Whichard, a former state Supreme Court justice and ex-legislator who is dean of Campbell University’s law school. “The level of respect has declined to the point, you hear over and over, that lawyers rank just ahead of used-car salesmen in public esteem.”

(via a reader tip by CJD)

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  • Anonymous

    “lawyers rank just ahead of used-car salesmen in public esteem”

    Jesus Christ, who the hell have the used car salesman hurt compared to the sodomites? OoP’s, gotta go order a Ct Scan!

  • Anonymous

    Lawyers are judged by their actions.

    Like doctors, it is the occasional bad apples that besmirch the bunch.

    But we docs kick out the bad apples when we find them.

    Do lawyers do the same ? Doesn’t seem so.

    This smells like karma, a bit…

  • Dan R.

    They just now think that lawyers are subject to unrelenting critism?

    Special interests such as Shakespear?

    They obviously have larger problems than public perception.

  • Anonymous

    From the article:

    “The setting is Randolph Hospital in 1998. She answers a page from a nurse, but by the time she reaches the newborn unit, a baby is blue from the chest down and in shock — dying. “I’ve been cleaning up messes like this right and left,” she thinks. As she struggles to clear bile and other wastes from the child’s lungs, she decides to file a complaint, alleging incompentence and lack of training of the attending physician,

    Now we don’t have all the information here (remember that CJD), but it sounds like the baby aspirated. Sounds to me like the pediatrician was on call, that
    is her job when she is oncall “to clean up messes”. Whether or not this is the attending docs “fault” is another story. I see aspiration in the hospital more than I would like to on call. Do I “blame” the day doc? No. I do what is best for the patient. I suspect there is a lot more to this story than the soundbite given to us.

  • Anonymous

    “But we docs kick out the bad apples when we find them.”

    You do? You think? How do you determine when you’ve “found them”?

    You don’t kick out the bad apples any more frequently than lawyers do. We’re monitored pretty closely, at least when it comes to some parts of our practice. Most attorneys have a trust account to hold client funds, and if that account ever gets overdrawn, the bank calls the State Bar and you can expect a call within an hour from them. In fact, some of our dues even go to a fund that compensates people whose lawyer absconded with that money.

    Anonymous 11:35, I certainly agree, we don’t have all the facts. I have no comment on that other than that it’s rare to see a physician turn on one of their own, much less publicly.

    Funny thing about our reputation is that while most people dislike lawyers in general, they typically really like THEIR lawyer. I would imagine it’s kind of like most people think physicians are arrogant, but their’s is a great guy/girl.

    CJD

  • dr john

    We doctors think that lawsuit abuse is just our problem, but my patients in many professions — plumbers, teachers, small-businessmen — regale me with their own stories of lawsuit abuse.
    Walter Olsen’s “The Rule Of Lawyers” nails it.
    The lawsuit industry is a terrible drag on the U.S. economy already, and our law schools are brimming with future litigaters.
    Not a cheerful thought…

  • Anonymous

    Walter Olsen’s clients don’t want you to be able to sue them. They want to sue each other though, and do, at a rate of 3x the number of suits filed by individuals. Wonder why they never try and limit those cases?

    Amazing how this “drag on business” produced the most dynamic economy ever during the 90s, eh John? I hear from those same plumbers, lawyers, and small business people how tired they are of physicians making hundreds of thousands of dollars and treating their patients like crap.

    I own three small businesses John, and I don’t stress about it.

    CJD

  • dr john

    CJD:
    I’m a family doctor.
    1) I don’t treat my patients like crap. (Really? “Crap”? That’s your best?)
    2) I don’t make hundreds of thousands of dollars.
    3) I don’t own three businesses, like you.
    4) Stanley Tools quickly comes to mind as a company that wanted to move it’s corporate headquarters overseas because of liability issues. And where, now, is the American small-aircraft industry, or the silicone industry, after they’ve been destroyed by the lawsuit industry?
    5) Unlike you, I can debate civilly.
    (“Crap”?)

  • Anonymous

    “Crap”

    Give CJD a break. That’s all he knows cause it works in court. Look at the Merck trial. You use words like “crap” and the high school dropouts who are the only one’s stupid enough not to get out of jury duty are driven to tears and side with the plaintiff’s sodomite. “crap” works better than “logic”.

  • Anonymous

    Dr. John,

    Clearly I wasn’t referring to you. But look at the anonymouse comment below yours. Look at the contempt which the commenter has for his fellow man. Do you really think that person would survive in an environment where he had to rely even in part on his interpersonal skills to make money? As for crap, how much time do you want me to spend putting together delicate phrases for someone with an obsession with asses like the anonymouse? Either he’s spent too much time in prison or he needs serious psychological counseling. Although your complaint about the word “crap” reminded me of a Deep Thought by Jack Handey:

    “Marta was offended when I used the word “crap”, but to me, that’s what the dinner she made tasted like.”

    As for what you make, I really don’t care. And as for Stanley Tool, do you really think that the only reason a manufacturer moved overseas was because of liability concerns? That doesn’t even make sense, since they can still be held liable for defective products sold in the US. Do you think BMW won’t be held liable if they design a defective vehicle because they are a German company?

    Your belief in claims like that Stanley Tool one only illustrate how little of an understanding physicians have about the legal system and their exposure and risk.

    And c’mon – a blue collar manufacturing job gets moved overseas primarily because of liability concerns? What’s next – are you going to argue Wal-Mart imports so much from China not because of cheap labor but because those products are immune from liability?

    If you believe everything Walter Olsen tells you, then you’ve heard half the story. He’s a lawyer/lobbyist with clients of his own.

    If by “silicone industry” you mean breast implants, are you arguing that today’s breast implants are not safer than the silicone ones?

    CJD

  • Anonymous

    Lawyers aren’t held liable for poor outcomes to the same degree.

    Incompetence means more than “absconding with funds”. Is that the only legal negligence CJD can think of ?!

    Physicians work with systems that aren’t always under their control.

    The lawyers that aren’t “crap” are the ones that do good for society as a whole. That focus on helping people who are disadvantaged. That’s what makes a good lawyer.

    Whether you own 3 businesses has nothing to do with whether you’re a decent human being, or just draining a cashflow from the system because you can.

    As a doc, I agree that negligence, by docs, is something that they should be held accountable for.
    But I don’t like that so much of what is needed for is wasted on frivolous suits, and siphoned off by lawyers, not actually helping those in need.

    If I spill my coffee in my lap, it’s my fault. Not McDonalds.

    If I stick my hand in a blender and turn it on, it’s my fault. Not the blender company for not having a big red sign that says “DO NOT INSERT BODILY PARTS”.

    Bragging about your wealth doesn’t exactly help your argument, CJD.

    Shakespeare. I think it’s Act 2, Scene 2, Henry VI, from memory.

    DD

  • Anonymous

    Dr. John,

    Let me correct myself on Mr. Olsen. I get he and his brethren mixed up. He in fact does not appear to have ever represented anyone in court.

    He merely works for think tanks primarily funded by the chief beneficiaries of tort reform.

    CJD

  • Anonymous

    “Lawyers aren’t held liable for poor outcomes to the same degree.”

    Really? Says. . . you? How many times has a physician been “held liable” for a poor outcome where there was no negligence and how many times has a lawyer? Or are you just guessing?

    “Incompetence means more than “absconding with funds”. Is that the only legal negligence CJD can think of ?!”

    No, it’s not. That’s why I said “at least when it comes to some parts of our practice.”

    “Physicians work with systems that aren’t always under their control. “

    And lawyers do? One lawyer controls his opponent, the judge, and the jury?

    “The lawyers that aren’t “crap” are the ones that do good for society as a whole. That focus on helping people who are disadvantaged. That’s what makes a good lawyer”

    It’s funny you would say that. Because I can think of no one more disadvantaged than the victim of medical malpractice who has been catastrophically injured as a result and cannot pay their medical bills, much less any of their other bills. But I don’t think you’d see it that way. Are the only doctors who aren’t “crap” those who do good for society as a whole? What does that phrase even mean? If you save one asshole, are you a “crap” doctor?

    “Whether you own 3 businesses has nothing to do with whether you’re a decent human being, or just draining a cashflow from the system because you can.”

    You’re right, it doesn’t. I didn’t make that claim. Are you reading what I wrote? Is that what the victims of malpractice are doing? Draining cashflow because they can? What do you pay insurance for? How would you propose the victims of malpractice get that money? Do physicians just write checks? Or do insurers just hand over hundreds of thousands of dollars for legit claims because the victim asks?

    “As a doc, I agree that negligence, by docs, is something that they should be held accountable for.”

    Evidently, you don’t, because you’re trying to make it harder for the victims of that negligence to get compensated, and you’re not volunteering to make it harder for physicians or insurers to avoid paying. Your talk is cheap.

    “Bragging about your wealth doesn’t exactly help your argument, CJD.”

    You’ll have to point me to where I bragged about my wealth. Anyone who owns a small business knows that simply because you have it doesn’t mean you’re wealthy. Just like the public perception that all physicians are well off isn’t true.

    CJD

  • Anonymous

    My hatred of the legal system in this country, which forces me to order tests as an ER doc rather then treat patients (while I write this, a commercial on TV states “the Emergency Room really screwed up, now I’m going to make them pay”) has nothing to do with “contempt for fellow man”. I spend 34 clinical hours a week ordering tests to avoid getting sued. I admit patients who should go home, I cause cancer by CT scanning every patient I see, whther they need it or not. All because of the Lawyer Sodomites. If I was a victim of priest abuse they would be my Sodomites; instead I have to pander to the lawyer sodomites, just to avoid getting sued. 34 brutal hours a week. I wish I could treat the patients, instead of the sodomites.

  • Anonymous

    CJD,

    You have presented your view of certain aspects of this debate quite well.

    And ignored others.

    Perhaps that is why you are a lawyer.

    But crucial issues…you have ignored. In my opinion.

    i) How much of your clients returns do you keep ? Is this a conflict of interest?

    ii)Why do you mention your commercial “success”, if it’s not important to you ?

    iii) Do lawyers such as yourself profit society as a whole or not ? Does the overwhelming surge of litigation limit medical practice, to the detriment of patients, you think ?

    These are not easy questions.

    To some poeple, making money is much more important than doing good on a larger scale.

    I don’t mean to disrespect you, either, CJD. I am hopeful you entered your profesion with the desire to help people.

    But we disagree. I enjoy the debate, and welcome your opinion.

    As much as we may differ.

    DD

  • Anonymous

    “i) How much of your clients returns do you keep ? Is this a conflict of interest?”

    Why would it be, our interests are the same – to maximize the victim’s recovery. I don’t do medical malpractice on any scale, simply because my pockets aren’t deep enough to afford the losses, but typically the fees are 40-50% of the award, depending on the complexity. Other personal injury cases are typically 25-33%, again depending on the case, and on the business litigation cases I take on contingency, it varies quite a bit. Contingency fees allow someone who wouldn’t otherwise be able to access the legal system to do so. Take medical malpractice, for example. If you’re catastrophically injured and can’t work, how are you not only going to pay your mortgage, car, groceries, etc., but also pay me my hourly rate, expert fees, and so on?

    “ii)Why do you mention your commercial “success”, if it’s not important to you ?”

    That is an easy question, actually. One, I was responding to the poster who said small businesses were being driven out of business because of the liability system. I mentioned that I had three (including my law practice) to illustrate that the claim was bs, because I am one of those small business owners. As for successes, as any small business owner knows, for the first several years, essentially the bank owns your businesses, you don’t.

    “iii) Do lawyers such as yourself profit society as a whole or not ?”

    I don’t know how you define “society as a whole”, but let me ask you some questions to illustrate why I think we do. Does it profit society as a whole to know that contracts can be enforced? To know that you can get your future medical bills paid if you are the victim of malpractice and uninsurable? People forget that most of the award in a malpractice case ends up going right back to medical providers and health insurers. Does it benefit your health insurer who paid your car wreck bills if I recover for you and pay them back pursuant to their subrogation right? And those questions are just contingency fee related. My practice, “lawyers like me”, is a small town practice that includes domestic work (occasionally), real estate, small business formation, etc. And primarily, my clients will say I benefited them. Does it help society to set up an S Corp? I don’t know, you tell me.

    “Does the overwhelming surge of litigation limit medical practice, to the detriment of patients, you think ?”

    Is there an overwhelming surge? I don’t know. I think insurance rates are a lot higher, but I’m not so sure there are that many more claims. As to the detriment of patients, that’s such an open question I don’t know if I can answer it. Everything has positives and negatives. Is there any human action that is purely positive to everyone? I don’t know of one. That’s not to be evasive, it’s just that I can’t really give your question a simple answer.

    You haven’t disrespected me in the least.

    CJD

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