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79 A.B.A. J. 60 (1993)
Vox Populi - The Public Perception of Lawyers: ABA Poll

handle is hein.journals/abaj79 and id is 1000 raw text is: O   N      T H    E      P  R  O   F   E  S   S I   0 N

THE PUBLIC PERCEPTION
OF LAVYERS: ABA POLL

BY GARY A. HENGSTLER
mage is everything! Or so says
professional tennis champion
Andre Agassi in a popular televi-
sion commercial that exudes confi-
dence or arrogance, depending on
your point of view.
While Agassi most certainly over-
states the case for image, it is clear
that a positive public perception has
always been an important, desirable
goal. In the case of American law-
yers, who labor to improve the work-
ings of the justice system, this desire
to enhance the legal profession's
standing in the eyes of the public has
taken on an urgency in recent years
that seemingly is unparalleled in the
profession's long history.
You saw this desire in lawyers'
reaction to former Vice President
Dan Quayle, who asked whether
Gary A. Hengstler is editor and
publisher of the ABA Journal.

America needs so many lawyers when
he addressed the American Bar As-
sociation House of Delegates in 1991.
You can see it when today's
comedians sarcastically find a way to
work lawyers into many of their
routines.
You can see it when a major
beer brewer thinks it can improve
profits by running commercials show-
ing lawyers as rodeo cattle.
You can see it in movie theaters
when the audience laughs as the
lawyer is devoured by a Tyranno-
saurus Rex.
You can see it in last year's ABA
survey of lawyers, who ranked im-
proving the standing of the profes-
sion in the eyes of the public as one of
the highest priorities they want the
ABA to address.
And you can see it in letters
addressed to the ABA Journal.
But are lawyers really held in
such low esteem? What does the
public think about the legal profes-

sion? And if lawyers have a public
perception problem, what has caused
it? More importantly, what can be
done about it?
The association, in an effort to
acknowledge and understand public
perceptions, commissioned Peter D.
Hart Research Associates Inc. to
conduct a comprehensive survey of
the public's view of the profession.
The results? Well, like most
surveys, the public has mixed feel-
ings. But one fundamental fact sur-
faced: The problem goes far beyond
image. The public perception seems
based on strongly rooted dissatisfac-
tions with some aspects of the way
the system works and how lawyers
practice their skills.
While there was no blanket
condemnation, it is apparent that
there are certainly aspects of the
current practice of law in which the
public wants improvement. And, since
the public by its very nature is made
up of diverse elements, it is only

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