The worst thing about lawyers, in my opinion, is that not everybody can afford one. Our justice system is supposed to make things fair for everyone. In that pursuit it says that everyone is entitled to an advocate. However, advocates are entitled to be paid for their labor and therefore the plaintiffs and defendants of the U.S. must pay.
This economic bar to legal representation does some good. Since it’s costly to litigate, the courts’ burden is less than if lawsuits were free. Small disputes are settled out-of-court; whether this is good or bad, I can’t say.
However, poor people necessarily get less access to justice. Since the law is too complex for an average person to learn (especially if they work for a living), they must hire a lawyer to access justice. Even if they have a perfectly legitimate complaint,
- they might not know their complaint is legitimate (since they can’t afford to ask a lawyer);
- they are unable to effectively represent themselves and win cases, without the money to afford a lawyer.
By contrast, rich people can ask a lawyer (friend or at-hire) to find out whether this-or-that is illegal. And if they think a case might have a chance, they can go ahead with the suit. Poor people can’t take a case forward unless it’s a sure-fire win.
To my mind, unequal access to the law is one of the best justifications for Progressive Taxation. Which is another topic for another time.
But just to summarize the point:
- Rich people benefit more from the system.
- So they should contribute more to paying for it.