Q: “What’s the difference between a lawyer and a vampire?”

A: “A vampire only sucks blood at night.”

Is it really any surprise that a recent Pew poll shows lawyers are the least respected professionals in the country? We’ve all heard the jokes. A lot of people think all lawyers are greedy, soulless bullies who would do anything for a dollar and who don’t care at all about justice.

After this weekend’s verdict in the George Zimmerman case, I can easily see how unpopular lawyers really are. Depending on your perspective, you may hate the prosecution, or despise the defense lawyers. You may think the whole thing is so awful that you hate the whole system.

A lot of people feel that way . . . until they need a lawyer.

I meet clients in my office every day who are skeptical. The woman who calls me up on Monday morning doesn’t want to talk to a lawyer; she’d rather be a million places than at a law firm.

But something’s happened to her, and she doesn’t have a choice. Maybe she lost her job and can’t afford her cancer treatment. Maybe a truck hit her and caused a lifetime of medical bills. Maybe she just needs advice.

After talking with her for a while, I notice two things about this woman. First, she can’t believe how nice everyone at our firm is. We treat her with respect and concern, because we truly care about her. Second, she is so relieved to have someone on her side for once.

Sometimes lawyers treat people like just another number, but never in my office. It means a lot to me every time I shake a client’s hand and help him through a financial problem. I celebrate every time I get to give a client the settlement check she desperately needs.

So don’t give up on all of us. Not all of us lawyers are bad – I promise. Some of us care deeply about justice, and hate to see the little guy lose.

As you question the verdicts you hear about, and as you discuss the famous trials that start national conversations, remember: don’t judge us lawyers by the little you see of us on 24-hour news. You might accidentally be judging those of us who cry with our clients when they struggle and fight for them when they need it most.

I’m here for my clients no matter what, just like I’d be for you if you ever needed a lawyer and had nowhere else to turn.

And that’s no joke.

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(Photo credit: Adrian van Leen)