As one might expect, lawyers don’t rate very high on the trust meter.  As one of my characters said in Chapter 4 of The Grievance Committee–Book One, “Only fiction writers and lawyers get paid to lie.”  So, can you trust a lawyer?

In the June 2013 edition of  Reader’s Digest, the ranking of the top 15 most trusted professions by Americans doesn’t even include lawyers.  The magazine’s survey of 1,000 Americans also listed the 100 most trusted people out of 200 public figures, with the surprising results finding actor Tom Hanks as number one, followed by Sandra Bullock (2), Denzel Washington (3), and Meryl Strep (4).

Although the magazine’s trust meter included some people with law licenses (such as US Supreme Court Justices–with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (36) rated as the highest—and such as First Lady Michelle Obama (19)), not a single rated person demonstrated that a lawyer was the person’s primary profession.   Surprising, don’t you think?

According to the magazine, trust arises when the brain releases oxytocin, a hormone “that produces pleasurable feelings and triggers the herding instinct” prompting humans to seek human connection.  The 100 identified Americans apparently earned sufficient confidence to be deemed as credible and not as disingenuous  and thus earning trust.

The magazine correctly points out that familiar people are trusted more than anyone famous, meaning that one’s own doctor (77%), or spiritual adviser (71%), and child’s teacher (66%) are rated higher on the trust meter than the celebrities named.

While other surveys of lawyers reveal general distrust of lawyers as a profession, almost always people tend to rate their own lawyer high on the trust meter.  Of course, hypocrisy (such as happened to Lance Armstrong to name as example) can deservedly destroy one’s trust.  As Ben Franklin said, “Honesty is the best policy.”

When a lawyer speaks or acts dynamically, authoritatively, and believably, finding that the lawyer as trustworthy is easy.  That’s true whether the lawyer is consulting with a client or arguing before a judge or before a jury.  When those words or actions ring true and sincere, the lawyer’s trust becomes evident and acceptable.

That’s when you can trust a lawyer.

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