Throughout the past three centuries no profession has copped more ridicule and cynicism than law.

In our Wellington offices, I have a set of six comic Daumier prints, circa 170 years old, ridiculing French lawyers.

One shows a courtroom scene with a lawyer pointing at his plainly villainous client in the box and saying, “As your Honour can see, my client is a fine upstanding citizen”.

Well here’s one for the profession. A very successful close friend, a lawyer in an Asian nation, wrote to me recently, saying “I learnt very early on that our clients rarely tell the truth”. She has a practice covering the full gambit of legal work.

It would be interesting to know how many of our legal practitioners share her sentiments.


Not only legal clients. I learnt very early when on IT help desk duty that it’s a waste of time listening to what people tell you. Hence my mantra: “Show me.”. They either leave out the important bits or totally mislead you which is usually why they have the problem in the first place

Raymond A Francis July 1, 2021 at 10:54 am

Lawyers, people paid to lie for us.

I was taught as a lawyer that all liars have a right to be represented! After all show me someone who has never lied

Of course they do, Bob, but their profession tells them they must accept a client’s word. If they discover otherwise aren’t they supposed to refuse the brief?

Years ago when I was 21 I had a traffic run in with the Police which resulted in a driving at a dangerous speed charge. Without going into specifics the Police had nothing on me and I had set it up that way before they even arrived. I’d engaged a lawyer when it was fresh and I explained I’d be pleading not guilty and gave the reasons why. Critically, I admitted to him that I was in fact the driver but that Police couldn’t prove it. He didn’t demur at the time. On the court day with less than an hour before appearance he explained I’d be pleading guilty. When I protested he gives me this big holier than thou speech including ” you told me it was you driving, are you asking me, an officer of the court, to lie on your behalf??” So I had no option but to cop to the charge and take 9 months disqualification. What does that tell you about how honest a person should be to one’s legal representative and who’s fault is it if a client lies either directly or by omission to one’s lawyer?

    I presume you could have fired that lawyer on the basis he misled you on your pleading options and started afresh with a new one.

    However it doesn’t sound as though you had much of a case.

Like Rumpole of the Bailey, it never pays to ask them if they did it, and it usually doesn’t make any difference to the defence.

I suspect: All of them.
A close relative is a lawyer who frequented the courts as a duty solicitor in her first few years after being admitted to the bar.
Of her clients? “None of them could lie straight in bed”
Years later and she hadn’t changed her mind.

Here’s the rub however.

There’s always a price to pay; excuse the pun.

I would suggest they reason why so many politicians were previous solicitors is they carry on conscience for their actions.

The one thing I’ve learnt is very few give advice thats going to work for you. Like alot of (so called) professionals, they only thing they are good at is transferring the intellectual property they gain from smart business people to their other clients.

Having been a litigator for about 20 years (civil and criminal), my experience is that not only do the clients lie, they actually think we don’t know they are lying. I’ve never actually encountered a case of a lawyer lying (either in court or to another lawyer), and I would far more readily accept the word of a lawyer than a litigant.

The reputation of the legal profession as liars is ill-deserved. There’s nothing in it for us to lie, but a huge downside professionally if we do. So, although there are plenty of lies in any case, they all come from the same side of the witness box. It is par for the course and factored in.

There is a well-known (and still sitting) judge in Sydney who is often heard to say (of the personal injury claimant) “He may be a liar – but is he an injured liar?”

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