“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”
– Dick the Butcher, from Shakespeare’s Henry VI
Despite the large number of lawyer jokes, most lawyers are not dysfunctional human beings.
We articulate and guard the rights of our clients in a non-violent arena, i.e. the courtroom, in which confrontation takes the place of combat.
And we are ethically bound to put the client’s interests before our own. That requires us, among other things, to decline (or withdraw from) cases where some mental or physical condition on our part would materially impair our ability to represent the client.
The Dysfunctional Lawyer
Regrettably, the legal profession is not free of dysfunctional individuals. Abuse victims may be especially vulnerable to such individuals, and should be on the lookout for these characteristics.
A. The Large Ego
Deservedly or not, lawyers are regularly praised by those who want something from them. That stroking can produce an enlarged ego. But a sense of self-importance is not an indication of real ability on a lawyer’s part.
The lawyer with a large ego may be entirely competent. However, s/he is likely to be difficult for clients to deal with (reinforcing the supplicant role abuse victims are seeking to escape).
Large egos are, also, fragile. They must be propped up. Alcohol and drug abuse are not unknown among lawyers. These obviously interfere with judgment. The state bar will know whether a lawyer’s license has ever been suspended or revoked.
A large ego can lead to a sense of entitlement. More than a character flaw, the sense of entitlement may cause a lawyer to rationalize the misuse of client funds to support a lavish lifestyle.
Alternatively, a sense of entitlement can be used to “justify” the initiation of a sexual relationship with an emotionally fragile client. Continue reading