I was alternately amused and vaguely saddened by an article in the Law Gazette on the public’s continued perception of solicitors as only slightly higher up the ladder of moral evolution than estate agents. As a profession, Which? have found, solicitors are complained of as arrogant, elitist, failing to listen to clients, billing unexpectedly and not telling clients how cases are going.
That is probably fair enough, although I suspect a fair few legal aid solicitors won’t be happy at having their public image determined by the general public’s experience of conveyancers, PI claims managers and probate jockeys. Or, more respectfully, the range of fields and issues through which people encounter solicitors professionally would seem hard to yoke together into one overall experience.
But it is not just the public who are pissed off with their experience of solicitors. According to Maitland Kalton of Lawyers for Change, 40% of lawyers are not happy with their career choice. It seems that being a solicitor and being around other solicitors makes two fifths of solicitors deeply regret the way their life has turned out.
4 in 10 hate themselves and what they have become, so will be likely to subtly take out their self-loathing on the clients. But the other 6? Clearly, to be happy in an existence only marginally more esteemed than estate agents must take an utter absence of regard for the opinions of others, clients included.
For a client it is a difficult choice. Do you go with the passive aggressive with low self-esteem or the borderline sociopath who talks over you? Who gives better service?