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So, just how ARE lawyers perceived in the UK?

And how do we ‘stack up’ against other professionals?

According to a survey of 1,020 US adults in December 2022*, lawyers only had a 21% positive honesty and ethical standards ‘rating’ and a whopping 41% ‘negative’ rating.

This put lawyers behind nurses, doctors, teachers, accountants, real estate agents and even journalists as far as this US audience was concerned.

Really … are lawyers perceived that badly?

I mean I get the nurses, teachers etc. being perceived as having high honesty and ethical standards, but surely lawyers would be right up there in the top few?

I shared this data on Linked In last week (see link here) and it created a bit of debate. One of the observations was “It’s a US survey. Enough said I think” from David Gilroy @Conscious Solutions.

I contacted David and we had a chat and concluded that the only way to know for sure what a UK audience thinks of the professions in the UK, is to ask them.

So we did.

And here’s the results … with MASSIVE thanks to Conscious Solutions for helping to fund this research … we asked 500 people in the UK:

Please rate the honesty and ethical standards of people in these different fields.

Answer options were Very high, High, Average, Low and Very Low.

And the results are as follows:

Well the good news is here in the UK lawyers are held in slightly higher regard than they are in the US … with a 45% ‘positive’ rating and ‘just’ a 17% ‘negative’ rating. And lawyers are 6th out of the 18 professionals listed. So top third (just).

Lawyers also come out ahead of accountants, police officers and, unlike in the US survey, estate agents!

So good news. Or is it?

A 45% ‘positive’ rating still doesn’t sound that great to me. I mean a regulated, trusted professional really should be considered squeaky clean when it comes to honesty and ethical standards.

Out of interest there are some differences by age and when we compare responses by gender.

Female respondents give lawyers a 49% positive rating compared to males providing a 41% positive rating. And our under 30-year-old respondents only gave lawyers a 40% positive rating and a whopping (I think) 27% negative rating.

We have some work to do as a profession to change this perception … as that’s what it is right?

Of course, we can challenge the data sample (size/mix) or the timing (challenging economy and times) but fundamentally as a snapshot, it’s pretty robust and gives us a relative view of how the UK public regards their professionals.

Nurses and teachers may be striking (and indeed were on strike on at least 1 of the 4 days we ran the survey), but they still have a high positive honesty and integrity rating according to our survey.

And no surprises to see our MP’s currently with the highest ‘negative’ rating at 57%. They certainly have some challenges in terms of winning the public over!

*Data source Gallup, via Marketing Charts. See:

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