Qualities of Good Lawyers: Who says lawyers are liars?
By Beverly Caboteja
It’s 5:30 pm.
It was another ordinary day for me in law school. Well, I thought it was.
My professor talked about a different topic; a topic I don’t usually hear from my other instructors. He’s talking about his life being a lawyer, and what it is to be not just a lawyer but a good lawyer.
When I was still in my first year in law studies, I used to look at my lawyer-professors who stood in front of me, wondering, how can I get from where I am right now to where he is? I’d listen to my them tell about all their joys, fears, and even brunt of becoming one. Admittedly, I couldn’t help myself but think, will I, too make myself a good lawyer someday? A plain question yet it entails no certain answer.
I had already learned in the course of my education that I didn’t have to live the same low-level I had learned while growing up during my early years in law school. But I still had to figure out what it was going to take to change me so I could be, God willing, what I am supposed to be in the future. I knew that change was absolutely essential if I was ever going to heed and fulfil the call of being just like the lawyers whom I pay so much respect.
I just then want to share the discovery I made that took me beyond all my yesterdays into my more serious walk towards excellence for indeed, being in law school is never like a walk in the park. Nonetheless, along the way you come to appreciate everything that envelopes therein. And it is all worth it.
Now, I began contemplating, what makes a good lawyer? What distinguishes good lawyers from the bad ones? A number of differences leaked out from the discussion, and in this article, let me share with you some of which my professor had emphasized.
When people look for lawyers, they have to meet certain criteria. They, unsurprisingly, want the best lawyers in town. Although it is seemingly difficult for people to know exactly who they want, there are certain general requirements that all candidates should be able to meet. These criteria are those that make a good lawyer:
1. GOOD LAWYERS ARE GOOD WRITERS.
One of the most important criteria that separate good lawyers from bad ones is writing skills. Lawyers have to write a lot but not only a lot but also write well. As what IP Today columnist Joseph N. Hosteny says, “first-rate writing is another hallmark of good lawyers. They have to lay out their argument and how their points of support and evidence fit into the overall picture of what they are saying.” In short, they should learn to elucidate things clearly and comprehensively.
I remember few months ago, my teacher used to remind us the three (3) L’s:
LAW,LOGIC, LANGUAGE. Among the three, he emphasizes the third. Writing in law school is far different from writing in high school or even in college. Hence, he stresses that we are to learn the language of class.
On a personal note, every case requires a brief, and lawyers often take on many cases at once. Consequently, they need to be able to convey their ideas quickly and in a short amount of space so that anyone reading the brief can quickly understand the attorney's argument.
2. GOOD LAWYERS READ AND UNDERSTAND THE LAW.
Another important criterion that good lawyers meet is a thorough reading and understanding of the law. Laziness in reading the law is another trademark of a bad lawyer, or at least the slothful one. Some people have said that a good lawyer reads the law, but the truth is that good lawyers do more: they comprehend the laws and know the law inside and out. They don’t only read laws for the sake of completing a pleading but make it sure that everything is done well. This is also inevitable to being a successful and most-sought after lawyer because lawyers have to use laws in their client’s favor.
But many lawyers these days are not readers. We are taught in law school to read the case, and perceive the facts that controlled the court’s decision about the law. This enables us to grasp the fuller understanding of the case. Besides, the less you read, the less you know, as my teacher quotes it.
3. GOOD LAWYERS ARE OBJECTIVE AND IMPARTIAL.
It is important that attorneys can maintain their objectivity and independence from their clients. The good ones don’t allow themselves to be dictated upon. Neither do they become “underdogs”. More so, many times, lawyers defend their clients for publicity purposes, but in the process their judgment gets weakened. When attorneys believe one thing over another and start to espouse their beliefs, they lose the ability to think clearly because they have become involved in the case; they want to prove themselves right. By maintaining their neutrality, lawyers can more level-headedly decide what is in the best interest of their clients.
4. GOOD LAWYERS ARE CRITICAL THINKERS.
Furthermore, good lawyers can and do look at things from the opposing parties' viewpoint. For example, prosecution attorneys should not try to wrongly convict people because of the negative effects it can have on the convicted individual; to understand this they should look at the situation from the defendant's eyes. Moreover, looking at the case from the opposing party's eyes also allows attorneys to understand what arguments the opposing party might use.
5. GOOD LAWYERS ARE HONEST.
Finally, good lawyers engender honesty. They do not resort to anything fraudulent or corrupt all for the sake of generating income or of increasing revenues. Pitiful it seems but there are lawyers who treat lawyering just like any other businesses. This indeed palpably is unethical as dictated by the legal ethics. They even dupe clients and impose fees unreasonably.
These are only some of the characteristics that make up a good lawyer. I, personally have high regard and respect to lawyers which lead me to dreaming of becoming one. Not all lawyers are liars. They are not even bad. There are just some few who seem to deviate from the realm of the righteous.
Good lawyers bring about safety and assurance. They speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute and ensure justice for those being crushed.