« Vault's Top 25 Firms for Associates | Main | Young, Ambitious, and Pregnant »

How Lawyers Rank in American Society

Vivia Chen

July 18, 2013

Here's my recap of the news you shouldn't miss:

Bad Egg © Arpad Nagy-Bagoly - Fotolia.com(1)
1. Lawyers are lowest of the low. The legal profession has a serious image problem. According to Pew Research Center's latest poll of 4,000 Americans, lawyers rank last among 10 professions for contributions to society.

First, let's look at the professions with positive images—where more than 60 percent of those polled thought these jobs contributed "a lot" to society:

- Military (78 percent gave it the top score)

- Teachers (72 percent)

- Doctors (66 percent)

- Scientists (65 percent)

- Engineers (63 percent)

Less esteemed are clergy, artists, and journalists (37, 30, and 28 percent, respectively). Americans seem quite ambivalent about these professions—especially the clergy, according to Pew.

Then the absolute bottom dwellers:

- Business execs (24 percent)

- Lawyers (18 percent)

Now, some of you might think getting that 18 percent approval isn't half bad but here's the real downer: More than a third of Americans (34 percent) rank lawyers' contribution as "not very much" or "nothing." That means you're essentially useless—just a "pair of ragged claws/ scuttling across the floors of silent seas"—to quote my favorite poet. (Pop quiz: Can you name the poet?)

Hey, I know lawyers are no angels, but ranking below business execs? That's pretty insulting. I mean, those masters of the universe are the ones who made the big messes in the first place; lawyers are just the clean-up crew. (Hat tip: Above the Law)

Ginsburg_Scalia_Heart(1)2. Why don't Nino and Ruthie just hook up already? NPR's Nina Totenberg has a nice, breezy piece about a new opera that explores the relationship between two of our most adorable (mind you, I didn't say "adored") justices: Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. According to Totenberg, the opera (by composer Derrick Wang)  is "based on the two justices' personalities—Scalia's, bombastic, and Ginsburg's, demure—and their ideological disagreements."

Too cute. We all know that these two have Thanksgiving together (with their families), love opera, and giggle at each other's jokes. So shouldn't they get it on?  (NPR)

3. Like, this is news? The Consero Group's Spring 2013 general counsel survey finds that 61 percent of Fortune 1000 general counsel are not satisfied with the rates they pay to their outside counsel. (Corporate Counsel)

4. Don't mess with Texas? Well, don't #*&! with New York! Ok, this has nothing to do with careers or law. But if you like Texas-bashing (which I do, because that's where I grew up), you'll love, love, love this segment from Lewis Black of The Daily Show. It's brilliant. (To watch, click on screen below.)



Get The Careerist in your morning email. Sign up today—see box on upper right corner.

Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? E-mail The Careerist's chief blogger, Vivia Chen, at VChen@alm.com.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

) Pew Research Center study on public perception of the various professions puts the military on top, teachers second, lawyers last and business execs second to last. What strikes me is the high regard is held in reverse rank to typical level of compensation! Is that a value judgment in itself?

Correct. Did you Google it or know it?

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, T.S. Eliot, 1920

The comments to this entry are closed.

Subscribe to get The Careerist via e-mail

Enter your e-mail address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

To search across all ALM blogs, go to www.Lexis.com.