Friday, November 1, 2019

Are All Lawyers Really Sleazes?


This year (2019), Love Your Lawyer Day falls on Friday, November 1. Because the three protagonists in my second novel are lawyers, I couldn't pass up this holiday. 

My book research took me face to face (or phone to phone) with three attorneys, all willing to share information and answer my questions. To my surprise, one interviewee noted upfront, "All lawyers are sleazes." Since he was in a position to know, he must have spoken the truth—or so I first assumed. Then I began to wonder. Were those words really accurate? Was he parroting a commonly held belief about his profession? Or was he being sarcastic? I don't know.

My personal need for those of the legal profession has been (gratefully) limited. However, my first experience seemed to bear out the sleaze designation. The man was nothing short of lecherous. Shocked and horrified at his unwelcome advances, I quickly left and never again visited his office alone. (Unfortunately, I'd already paid him, and it was decades before the Me Too movement.) 

A visit several years later was to a pro bono attorney after a contractor took all the money we had to build a home and filed bankruptcy. We filed a suit against him to get our money back, but the judge granted us only about half of it. I was unhappy with that, but our attorney told me I should be thrilled to have gotten anything because no one else who went after their money received a dime. Years later, another lawyer told me that pro bono attorneys are often the best around. Our free lawyer—the one I was unhappy with—had been one of the good guys.

My grandfather was an attorney. He earned his degree in the early 1900s but didn't practice law until he was 80 and his wife had died; my grandmother believed they couldn't count on a steady income in
the legal field. (His first case after her death netted him $5000, big money back in the day when he made it and many times more than he'd ever earned in any other occupation.) Grandpa was one of the most sincere, honest, humble people I've ever known; his integrity was always above reproach. Another vote for the good guys.

Back to my novel. Honest, caring attorneys make great protagonists, but sleazy ones add spice to a story. So my three (one legal aid lawyer, one defense attorney, and one prosecutor) are good guys. However, a member of the prosecutor's team is not so much. His ability to become a thorn in the sides of the others makes him a viable character and is my nod to the sleazes who tarnish the scales of justice.


What has been your experience with lawyers? Do you ever include them in your stories? Do you enjoy reading "legal eagle" books by authors like John Grisham?

Editor Linda Lane has returned to her first love—writing—while maintaining her editing work. Her novels fall into the literary category because they are character driven rather than plot driven, but their quick pace reminds the reader of genre fiction. They also contain elements of romance, mystery, and thrillers. You can contact her at websites: LSLaneBooks.com and DenverEditor.com.

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice.