Are lawyers greedy?
STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE'S MOUTH - your chance to know the viewpoint of the students of Moscow State University Law School and Department of World Politics on the following:
Humankind has embraced capitalism as its favorite religion. Greed is Commandment number one
To be frank, I do not agree with the statement in the first place. What is cause and effect? If you look the basic terms up in Longman’s dictionary you will find that “Capitalism is an economic and political system in which businesses belong mostly to private owners, not to the government”. And “Greed is a strong desire for getting more than you need”.
Having defined the terms we can discuss the problem in particular without being afraid of any confusion.
Capitalism is the creation of the modern world, unlike Greed. Greed has existed from the time immemorial, in every epoch and every country.
Do you remember the rule of the jungle, that is “Kill as many enemies (or animals) as you need to maintain your life”. However, some individuals handle the issue differently: ‘Have as much food as possible, whether you are hungry, or not!” They are trying to obtain as much as possible, inventing new devices and gadgets to make the job easier.
In our modern time there is no problem with food (I am talking about the developed countries). If you want to eat just go and buy whatever you need. But at the same time we are facing another problem. The problem called “Money”.
We can constantly argue and criticize Greed. But we must admit that it is Greed (among other things) that is pushing people along the way of progress. If it weren’t for Greed we would have lived like any prehistoric tribe.
In conclusion I would like to stress the following simple idea: We are who we are and there is no way to change or improve the human race! Let’s face facts!
So thank you, Mr. Greed J
Maxim Krylov, 3d year student, Department of World Politics
The publicity only surrounds lawyers because we need them so much.
Have you ever killed anyone?
Ok, let’s try together. Just for fun.
In the darkest night let’s hide in the darkest alley and wait for our victim. He or she is just an innocent scapegoat, we even don’t know this person! Nevertheless we migh jump from behind the bush and stab his neck with a penknife. Screams!!! Blood all over the place….and a dead body on the ground. Yes, we have done it!
Unfortunately, the screams of the victim will wake up a dozen of people from the neighboring houses and someone is sure to cause us problems by calling the police. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough experience in playing hide-and-seek, that’s why there is a very fair chance for us to be caught.
The evidence is against us, so first of all we’ll demand a lawyer. A government-appointed lawyer whose services are free of charge might seem to be the right choice. BUT! We need a professional to win our case, and we are ready to give him all our money to be safe. And he will take it, because we will beg him to take it. On the other hand we’ve got the relatives of the victim, who are also ready to spend all their savings to put us behind the bars.
Justice is a competitive process, that’s why the greater sum of money invested in it can provide greater opportunities and the greatest results. But in each litigation there is a party which looses and that’s why half of the public (those who win) likes lawyers, and the other half hates them cordially. We’ve created lawyers with our own hands, therefore we do not the moral right to accuse anybody.
So, have you ever killed anyone?
Ilya Mironov, 3rd year student, Faculty of World Politics
Humankind has embraced capitalism as its favourite religion. Greed is commandment number one.
For a long time humankind has been flattering itself claiming that it is progressing favourably, approaching the brilliant future where prosperity will be guaranteed to everyone. These ideas articulated by Turgo and Kondorse in the XVIIIth century were predominant throughout the XIXth and even the XXth century. However does today’s reality provide any proof of the fact that the golden age is somewhere near? The question is obviously rhetorical. The humankind is bogged down in wars and crises, ready to kill and destroy striving for money and power. The Western civilization in spite of considering itself to be the most advanced and moral one, has already forgotten all the Biblical Commandments. It seems to have created its own rules with Greed at the top of the chart, being the key factor leading to success and high social position. Though the public hates tycoons and other fortune possessors cordially, people still desire to find themselves in the shoes of The Have-s. Denouncing the Muslim world for its overwhelming devotion to religious values, Western people still do not realize that this fidelity at least helps the Easterners to stay integral and appreciate something else than a Gold Visa or a High Profit Savings Account.
To my mind it could be a good idea to revive such long-abandoned virtues as family, honesty, hospitality etc. Ecological problems; unequal access to wealth and power; famine, even epidemics occurring everywhere -- all these originate from this abnormal passion for money. An awful lot of people are totally indifferent to others thinking only about their own benefits.
To conclude, unless the humankind and the Western civilization in particular, changes its priorities drastically, The Doomsday predicted by the religion we have rejected is not a long way off.
Maria Golovacheva, 3d year student, Department of World Politics
The legal business has been turn into some kind of mystical hocus pocus over the years.
There’s an opinion that legal business is a mystical hocus pocus and it’s impossible to change this situation. Of course this opinion might be justified in some way, and to my mind some blame can really be placed on lawyers.
Through the past decades the fees of lawyers have increased greatly and I suppose, that was the reference point when this profession became privileged. Legal experts have created the so called “closed shop” and they prefer to prosper within the pale of laws, made by themselves for themselves. It’s now almost impossible for a “stranger” to get into legal profession mostly due to all these complexities, sophisticated exams, and their “secret” language…
So these days more and more legal services are beyond the pocket of most citizens. Of course it is still possible to find a ‘cheap’ lawyer but -- we’ve got to be honest – s/he won’t be as qualified as we want them to be. If you are trying to save on your lawyer’s fee, you might expect that your legal expert won’t deliver the goods. And if you want to be 100 per cent sure that you’ll have the result that will be generally satisfactory, you’ve got to be able to pay through the nose at some point. Are you ready to do that? As for me – the answer is: Certainly not. We’re not oligarchs; we’re not big companies that can afford such an expensive luxury as numerous legal advisors! We are the average people with fair demands and modest income. And if the state is doing its best to complicate our lives with lots of legal papers with legal technicalities we’ve got to have the possibility to set all our businesses in order with modest fee rates. At least lawyers fees should be within the bounds of reason!
So what shall we do with this situation? Actually there seem to be just two ways out.
We may rely on our politicians and wait until they decide how to make our life easier. Having in mind that they do promise us the simplification in all spheres of legal assistance it’s just time that can help. However I’ve got a question: can we always trust the words of politicians? Probably not…
It looks like there’s another solution. Let’s study law ourselves. At least we may try to read the book “Law for Dummies”. But if any Joe Blogg tries to become a minor expert in legal matters, can we be sure that lawyers won’t think out some other tricky technologies in order to stay in demand?.
We live in the country where every step taken “for the people” is blocked by two steps “against the people”. Unfortunately, the legal business definitely adds complexity to our life.
To sum it up I’d like to repeat that legal business in this country is beyond the reach of the greatest part of the population. Laws and lawyers exist in their own world, too remote from the world of common people with their common problems. Instead of helping the people, laws tend to embarrass them.
Let’s hope that the situation will change…someday.
Olga Ignatyeva, 3d year student, Department of World Politics
Any Joe Blow thinks that he can do the same job with a “Bluffer’s Guide to the Law” under his arm.
Needless to say, the life of a modern man is very complicated. In our everyday chaos problems with the law occur quite often, and that’s when the issue of consulting a lawyer appears.
Some say that lawyers are greedy and they should be avoided at all costs if you want to keep some of your wealth and sanity. But there’s another point of view. Proficient lawyers get high fees just for doing their job properly. And what do they do? They have to interpret sophisticated legal theory and apply it to personal circumstances of their clients, trying to obtain a minimum penalty for them in case it is impossible to bluff it out. They have to study many years and then perfect their skills through everyday practice. They have to be very scrupulous reading huge amounts of books, searching for all sorts of evidence in order to make an impression that the client is innocent. And isn’t it hard to make someone believe that you are telling the truth?
So, bearing all these points in mind, I really do think that lawyers should get appropriate fees for the job they are doing. Of course the questions of control over their fees and their availability to all are still very urgent. Having solved these problems, we might be able to say that we have some social justice.
Ksenya Alekseyeva, 3d year student, Department of World Politics
These days legal services are beyond the pocket of most citizens. The fee depends on the experience of a lawyer and the case which is being considered. However, our hypothetical legal expert needs the help of paralegals, secretaries, receptionists. He should pay the rent in his office, as well as all sorts of bills. So the fee also depends on these aspects. As a result, legal service becomes the expensive luxury.
Many people want to save on legal advice, so they start self-education. I don’t think it is a good idea. Nowadays there are a lot of manuals and textbooks on legal theory. Unfortunately their content is too general.
Besides we should not forget that there are many subtle aspects in legal business and it is the lawyers who are able to interpret and apply them to a person’s circumstances. In that way, if you want to set your house in order, do not hope that a ‘Bluffer’s Guide to the Law’ will save you. You should consult a lawyer and that might bring you success in court!
In conclusion I would like to say, that we should not accuse lawyers of having high fees, defending murderers, swindlers, etc. We should understand that it is one of the inherent features of legal profession.
Elizaveta Babicheva, 3d year student, Department of World Politics
“There’s nothing wrong with charging a rich tariff to those who can afford it”
Hello, Ladies and Gentleman, today I would like to express my opinion on the problem of lawyers’ fees. Nowadays a lot of people claim that the legal profession is just making a buck, that lawyers are greedy, they are overpaid and so on and so fourth. Yes, maybe all these people are right, because hiring a good experienced lawyer is beyond the pocket of most citizens. But let’s take a look at this problem from a different angle:
What will you choose: paying money to a lawyer or going to prison because of your desire to save some capital? To my mind the first option is more attractive though you might have to pay through the nose. I am one hundred per cent sure that if a person commits a serious crime he/she will try his/her best to win the case in court at any price. Most lawyers realize such a state of affairs that’s why they take your money without turning an eyelash. There’s nothing wrong with charging a rich tariff from those who can afford it. But no one forces you to pay this money: If a price of a certain man of law doesn’t fit you, you can choose another legal expert who will charge less but the risks of loosing the case will increase.
Turning to the final point I would like to say, that lawyers have the right to place a big charge on their services because they sell a really valuable commodity. From this perspective legal profession is like medical profession: these experts appear in our life usually at critical moments and help us to solve our worst problems. If no one dares say that the salaries of doctors are very high (not in our country, unfortunately), why should we complain about lawyers’ fees?
Nikolay Balan, 3d year student, Department of World Politics
"Humankind has embraced capitalism as its favorite religion. Greed is commandment number one."
No person in his right mind would deny the fact that the main aim of capitalism is to exact extra-profit out of everything that people do. The essential part of our life consists of the everyday competition. So I believe that it is all about competition in this life, but not greed. You have to prove first of all to yourself that you can achieve something in life, you can be successful, which means you can earn big money. So this impetus makes people study, work, improve themselves.
Everybody wants to feel confidence in the future. It provides the motivation for perfecting a person’s skills. Personally I believe that if somebody really wants something he will get it. I agree that when it comes to money people are basically the same: the bigger money they get, the bigger part of it they want to save or invest in order to make still more money.
The philosophy of the rich and successful people is indicated in the expression “ You will get nothing if you prefer to sit on your hands”. Taking everything into account I’m tempted to believe that the need to be successful is a part of human nature. So greed cannot be regarded as commandment number one in our world.
Nataly Naumova, Faculty of World Politics
"There’s nothing wrong with charging a rich tariff to those who can afford it."
Entering the discussion on the greediness of highly-qualified lawyers I can only agree with this point of view. Why? All of us tend to have a high education and we are all going to become to high-qualified experts. And it is not an easy thing to do! After graduation from the University we want to get a good job with high salary. However it demands a lot of enery.
In such profession as the legal profession is very important to earn a reputation of a great expert. And it also demands much time and effort. So why doesn’t the expert who is ‘in the market’ for years have the right for charging a rich tariff? Maybe his efforts and services should sink into oblivion? I don’t share this attitude!
I remember one example from the history. A priest stole something from a shop. An important judge (unfortunately, I do not remember his name) uttered only one phrase which justified the offender’s misdeed. Seemingly, there was nothing to say for his aquittal because he was caught red-handed in the scene of the crime. However, the lawyer said: «People, look at this priest. Every day he prays for forgiveness of our sins. So, why can’t we excuse him justonce?» This example shows that a lawyer should be as flexible as a diplomat, as well-informed as a journalist and he should also be a good physiologist.
I don’t agree with the idea that every lawyer should charge a rich tariff but real experts should enjoy this right. And it refers not only to lawyers, but to experts in any field!
Sheverdina Irina, Faculty of World Politics
"Lawyers - greedy? No way!"
Today most people complain that lawyers' fees are extremely high, therefore their services, are beyond the reach of ordinary citizens being an expensive luxury. The public accuses the whole legal profession of deliberate complication of the legal system so that only qualified lawyers could exploit the mysery of those who have to consult them. Surely, these claims are not always unjustified and they tend to be based on real facts which cause doubts in the very essence of the profession - social justice.
But in fact it was not lawyers who invented capitalism. Now we have what we have and modern world is quite tough, often unjust and even immoral. Its main principle claims that "the strongest survives". The "closed shop" of the modern legal profession is also the outcome of capitalist attitudes. And each new lawyer entering this specific society has to follow its rules and conditions.
Besides, the difficulty and complexity of modern legal system is naturally caused by a swift development of the society, by a new "advanced" lifestyle - and never by just a handful of people. And it is absolutely fair that those who have sharp, bright mind to sort out all that muddle may expect a top-dollar remuneration.
On the other hand I'm convinced that certain reforms could and should be carried out. For example, there is an opinion that those who are unable to pay for a private lawyer are entitled to be defended by a state-appointed one. In that case we must provide that these free services should be qualified. In order to achieve the desired degree of competence and effectiveness the state itself should reward a lawyer according to the quality of his work so that he would be satisfied with the sum in case of his success.
At the same time certain ceilings of charges must be set up for law firms and offices. That's not an easy work to do and the state will certainly face lawyers' objections, but as we are protagonists of social justice we must ensure it by just means.
Kozhemyakina Aleksandra, Law School
'Any Joe Blow thinks that he can do the same job with a 'Bluffer's Guide to the law' under his arm.'
There is a standpoint that lawyers are like a bunch of hookers - they have bastardized science to make a buck. People accuse lawyers of being dishonest, unfair and villainous skinflints, who make a fortune on other people's suffering. That is the general public's attitude toward lawyers. One can say: 'I can't understand why I should pay through the nose for 'expert' services! Lawyers only interpret complex legal theory and precedents apply them to particular circumstances, thereby translating them into layman's terms. Now any 'Joe Blow' can do the same job with a 'Bluffer's Guide to the law' under his arm!' When people interpret lawyers' work in this way it shows that they do not have the slightest idea about lawyers' work.
Legal services are an expensive luxury, so lawyers are beyond the pocket of most citizens. Does it mean social injustice? In some way - yes.
It is lawyers who practice and make the law at the same time, that's why there is a suggestion that they've made legal issues obscure, complicated, and difficult to understand, in order to force the public to consult them. There is some truth in this. However I'm of the opinion that lawyers are not as bad as people imagine. Of course, they use all their knowledge and skills to make good money. Wouldn't you earn it if you could? Eventually, lawyers work to help people, to solve their legal problems. They not only interpret laws, applying them to a person's circumstances (and it is not an easy task), but also present cases in court (it requires years of experience). To make good money you are to be a professional of repute. You should exert every effort to achieve success. Your fees would be regulated for price as well as quality. So, why shouldn't you get your fill? To my mind lawyers should retain their monopoly of the legal system, but only on the condition that they truly serve the public.
Maria Ledeneva, Law School
"Lawyers are parasites on the taxpayers' backs."
I believe that there's a deal of truth in this statement. Many taxpayers have some reasons to hate legal fraternity cordially. But these are people who can't pay big bucks for legal services. Nevertheless, there are others - those who really need professional legal aid - and are ready to pay for this expensive luxury.
What makes the problem worse in this country is the fact that our society is only moving towards capitalism. We are at the stage of "wild capitalism" now. And we can only hope that when/if we reach real democracy we won't have problems similar to those British taxpayers are having now.
Unfortunately, these days the main parasite on our taxpayers' back is our government, which often takes absurd decisions that "hit" the pockets of our citizens. And lawyers here may be the only people who try to defend the interests of citizens by legal methods. As for the members of government - they tend to sit on their hands while people remind them about their constitutional rights.
So we cannot make categorical assertions over the problem of high lawyers' fees. In this day and age lawyers are the people who are trying to fight the injustice of the state using their intellect and skills.
Kostyleva Olga, Law School
Lawyers are parasites on the taxpayers’ back