Lets be honest, lawyers do not always have the best reputation in today’s society. The general public loves to hate lawyers, making them the subject of jokes, complaining about legal fees, and creating derogatory names. This aversion toward the legal profession may be due to an increasing amount of attorneys working towards self-interest instead of public interest. That blanket statement, however, only epitomizes a small cross-section of the profession, but places a stigma upon an entire occupation. Catastrophes, large and small, occur frequently, and almost all require the immediate help of emergency responders. But when the exigency fades and the first responders leave, lawyers provide long-term relief for the many people dealing with the catastrophic impact.
Americans do not hold lawyers in high esteem; so much so in fact that one study found that Americans believe lawyers contribute the least to society out of all major occupations. Obtaining legal help is one of the most expensive services a person may pay for in life. Lawyers are composed of a highly isolated group of people, due to years of tradition and the requirement of a specialized degree. Additionally, people usually only seek out a lawyer during stressful times when people need help dealing with difficult situations. All of these elements not only segregate lawyers from the community at large, but also make it extremely difficult for the average person to relate and connect with lawyers, leaving a negative impression of the occupation. On top of this disconnect, the media focus tends to cover only the unethical and dramatic side of lawyering, giving society a warped perception of lawyers’ actions.
While there are some unethical lawyers who are the reason so many hold such negative feelings towards the occupation, there are even more hardworking lawyers who tirelessly help individuals during the worst time in their lives. The billable hour expectation of most firms ensures lawyers work incredibly long hours, but they also work into the night to ensure a client’s goal is accomplished through client meetings, research, writing, and court appearances. While many people remember certain historical events due to the heroic actions of emergency responders or activists, which is rightfully so as many risk their lives to help others, lawyers usually become involved later, and therefore, people are unaware of the help lawyers provide as well.
This past hurricane season was one for the records. Hurricane Harvey dumped dozens of inches of rain on southern Texas causing devastating water levels to rise several feet. When natural disasters occur, lives are threatened and property is ruined. Days after Hurricane Harvey left the area and the first responders ceased rescue operations, lawyers immediately started to set up emergency legal services. Lawyers helped hurricane victims apply for FEMA relief and find health care providers open while many in the area were still under water. The Texas Supreme Court also allowed out-of-state attorneys to practice in Texas for a period after the hurricane, which allowed lawyers throughout the United States to give free and quick legal advice to those in need. Over 1,600 lawyers volunteered to help solve issues that many victims did not even realize they had until after the devastation occurred, such as tenant rights in flooded apartments or child custody issues involving displaced parents. Some of the lawyers who volunteered were even victims of the storms themselves, but put their own concerns aside because they wanted to help their local community.
In 2010, Haiti experienced a devastating earthquake flattening homes and killing almost a quarter million people. The earthquake decimated the country, including the legal and government systems, causing Haitian nationals to seek relief elsewhere. In order to leave the chaos Haitians fled to the U.S. in droves, and lawyers helped thousands of people apply for temporary protected status so they would not be deported from the United States. After that, lawyers fought for years to encourage the government to allow the Haitians’ temporary status to remain so they could continue on with the education and jobs they had established here since the 2010 earthquake. Remaining in the United States proved essential to many earthquake victims, as despite best efforts, the revitalization of Haiti never occurred, meaning children who had lived in the United States for eight years or more would be required to go back to a country where many life essentials were not yet restored. Even today, U.S. lawyers are still helping the devastated area by funding their own trips to the country to train Haitian attorneys in litigation skills and international law policies.
The recent releases of multiple popular exoneration documentaries over the past few years has also turned the public’s interest towards the injustice caused by the imprisonment of innocent persons. While the documentary was a form of entertainment for many, such undeserved imprisonment is not as rare as many may think, and the release of innocent individuals is due to the hard work of appeals lawyers. The Innocence Project, a pro bono organization that helps imprisoned individuals appeal their convictions, has helped over 1,700 innocent people be released from prison and clear their names of harmful criminal records. People are released from prison due to ineffective counsel, new DNA evidence, or technological advances. In the year 2016 alone, attorneys successfully helped 170 individuals with their appeals, meaning almost every other day an individual was found innocent for a crime a jury or judge found them guilty of committing.
These are only three examples of how attorneys have helped thousands of people recently. Attorneys have acquired a bad reputation for years, and for some unethical lawyers the reputation is well deserved, but stories like these prove there are more good lawyers than bad. When devastation occurs it is easy to place the blame on the person who is closest when it happens, and that is often an attorney. It is, however, often because a lawyer is usually there fighting to try and fix the problem, be it a natural disaster or a flaw in the legal system. Continuing to put the focus on the positive actions of well meaning lawyers can hopefully help change the public opinion of the occupation.
 See Cris Puma, The Missing Link: Does Lawyer-Bashing Warrant Additional Protection for Lawyers, 19 J. Legal Prof. 207, 207-210 (1994) (describing history of lawyer-bashing which goes back as far as Shakespeare).
 See Russell G. Pearce & Eli Wald, The Obligation of Lawyers to Heal Civic Culture: Confronting the Ordeal of Incivility in the Practice of Law, 34 U. Ark. Little Rock L. Rev. 1, 4-5 (2011) (explaining self-interest conflict within lawyers perhaps one reason why problems occur within legal profession).
 See generally Judith L. Maute, Reflections on “Public Service in a Time of Crisis,” 32 Fordham Urb. L. J. 291 (Mar. 2005) (reviewing legal professions role in emergency situations).
 See Public Esteem for Military Still High, PEW Research Ctr. (July 11, 2013), http://www.pewforum.org/2013/07/11/public-esteem-for-military-still-high/ [https://perma.cc/7U4G-J38K] (displaying data showing dislike for attorneys).
 See Martha Bergmark, We Don’t Need Fewer Lawyers. We need Cheaper Ones., The Washington Post (June 2, 2015), https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/06/02/we-dont-need-fewer-lawyers-we-need-cheaper-ones/?utm_term=.28e9359c84b2 [https://perma.cc/7MAM-ATAZ] (arguing issues with legal profession due to unreasonable fees).
 See Victoria Pynchon, It’s OK to Hate Lawyers, Forbes (Jan. 18, 2013), https://www.forbes.com/sites/shenegotiates/2013/01/18/its-ok-to-hate-lawyers/#2019e2465694 [https://perma.cc/DJH4-DW53] (describing legal profession as “old boy’s club”).
 See Leonard E. Gross, The Public Hates Lawyers: Why Should We Care?, 29 Steton Hall L. Rev. 1405, 1406-07 (1999) (explaining emotional elements towards counseling clients); see also Jean Peters Baker, The Hardest Phone Call a Prosecutor Has to Make, The Marshall Project (Sept. 28, 2017) https://www.themarshallproject.org/2017/09/28/the-hardest-phone-call-a-prosecutor-has-to-make [https://perma.cc/Q7MC-WYCD] (explaining victim of assault crime told prosecutor “never call me again”).
 See Kathleen M. Sullivan, The Good the Lawyers Do, 4 Wash. U. J.L. & Pol’y 7, 7-8 (2000) (reviewing different forms of media that paint negative light on lawyers).
 See id. at 9-12 (highlighting good deeds of lawyers during troubled times).
 See generally Judith L. Maute, Balanced Lives in a Stressful Profession: An Impossible Dream?, 21 Cap. U. L. Rev. 797 (1992) (arguing ineffectiveness of billable hour system).
 See Nkechi Nneji, 14 Families of 9/11 Victims Settle Suit, CNN (Sept. 18, 2007), http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/law/09/18/sept.11.lawsuits/index.html [https://perma.cc/9B3M-KJRK] (explaining legal aspects of 9/11 compensation for victim families against airlines); but see Mireya Navarro, Already Under Fire, Lawyers for 9/11 Workers Are Ordered to Justify Some Fees, N.Y. Times (Aug. 27, 2010), http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/27/nyregion/27lawsuit.html [https://perma.cc/6LXT-HY4R] (reporting lawyers who represented ground zero workers questioned by federal court over $6.1 million in legal fees).
 See Tom Di Liberto, Reviewing Hurricane Harvey’s Catastrophic Rain and Flooding, NOAA (Sept. 18, 2017), https://www.climate.gov/news-features/event-tracker/reviewing-hurricane-harveys-catastrophic-rain-and-flooding [https://perma.cc/6LXT-HY4R] (arguing impact of Hurricane Harvey one of historical proportions).
 See id. (reporting almost fifty inches of rain fell on Houston and thousands needed rescue from their flooded homes).
 See Disaster Relief, Am. Bar Assoc. https://www.americanbar.org/groups/committees/disaster/disaster_relief.html#2 [https://perma.cc/8JRW-UZTV] (listing attorney disaster volunteering opportunities).
 See Amended Emergency Order After Hurricane Harvey Permitting Out-Of-State Lawyers To Practice Texas Law Temporarily, Misc. Do. 17-9101 (Aug. 30, 2017) http://www.txcourts.gov/media/1438820/179101.pdf [https://perma.cc/AT3Q-TAVT] (ordering unlicensed attorneys to practice in Texas).
 See Nicole Hong & Sara Randazzo, In Harvey Aftermath, Lawyers Mobilize to Help Houston Victims, The Wall Street Journal (Sept. 2, 2017), https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-harvey-aftermath-lawyers-mobilize-to-help-houston-victims-1504357201 [https://perma.cc/58TG-BKEW] (listing multiple volunteer actions and legal services provided by lawyers after hurricane).
 See id. (describing one attorney’s decision to put personal hurricane damages aside in order to help Houston community).
 See Richard Pallardy, Haiti Earthquake of 2010, Britannica (Dec. 15, 2017) https://www.britannica.com/event/Haiti-earthquake-of-2010 [https://perma.cc/H73M-RGR2] (reporting official death count was 222,570).
 See id. (reviewing collapse of government buildings and lack of communication caused need for international humanitarian aid).
 See Julia Preston, Haitians Illegally in U.S. Given Protected Status, N.Y. Times (Jan. 15, 2010) http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/16/world/americas/16immig.html [https://perma.cc/2TJT-P576] (explaining Haitian immigrants need for temporary protected status within United States).
 See Moni Basu, America Rescued Her From Haiti. Now Trump Wants to Send Her Back., CNN (Dec. 19, 2017), http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/19/us/haitians-lose-protected-status/index.html [https://perma.cc/GWH8-XPTB] (explaining effects of ending temporary protected status after extending it to son many for over seven years).
 See id. (describing Haiti still not fully recovered from effects of earthquake).
 See Section Task Force Travels to Haiti to Train Lawyers, Am. Bar Assoc., https://www.americanbar.org/groups/litigation/initiatives/good_works/haiti/section_task_force_travels_to_haiti_to_train_lawyers.html [https://perma.cc/CRR8-Z946] (relaying actions of special training task force in Haiti).
 See Trevor Timm, Making a Murderer Depicts Miscarriages of Justice That are Not at all Rare, The Guardian (Jan. 6, 2016), https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/06/making-a-murder-netflix-series-miscarriages-of-justice-are-not-at-all-rare [https://perma.cc/VJK6-5HN2] (comparing Making a Murderer to common injustices in criminal system).
 See Lisa Kern Griffin, ‘Making a Murderer Is About Justice, Not Truth, N.Y. Times (Jan. 12, 2016), https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/12/opinion/making-a-murderer-is-about-justice-not-truth.html [https://perma.cc/7A2Q-UZGG] (detailing Innocence Project’s involvement in exoneration cases).
 See generally University of California Irvine Newkirk Center For Science and Society, University of Michigan Law School & Michigan State. University College of Law, The National Registry of Exonerations, https://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Pages/about.aspx [https://perma.cc/UAX5-TBJ9] (reporting different exoneration cases).
 See University of California Irvine Newkirk Center For Science and Society, University of Michigan Law School & Michigan State. University College of Law, Exonerations By Year and Type of Crime, https://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Pages/Exoneration-by-Year.aspx [https://perma.cc/TV3H-BE4Y] (graphing number of exonerations over past twenty-five years).