So, just how ARE lawyers perceived in the UK?

So, just how ARE lawyers perceived in the UK?

View profile for David Gilroy
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And how do we ‘stack up’ against other professionals?

In January Clare Fanner from the Law Firm Marketing Club shared some data that, 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 US 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?

My comment in reply to Clare’s post was “It’s a US survey. Enough said I think”.

Clare then contacted me 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.

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.

OK, so 500 is not the largest sample size in the world, but we felt it was a large enough sample size to give us a sensible result.

And the results are as follows:

So the good news here is that in the UK lawyers are held in slightly higher regard than they are in the US with a 46% ‘positive’ rating and a 17% ‘negative’ rating.  And lawyers are 6th out of the 18 professionals listed. 

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

So good news. Or is it?

A 46% ‘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, a perception?

Of course, you could 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 going on strike (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!

Meanwhile, it’s official, car salespeople are not the least negatively reviewed professionals in town (at least for this question) … telemarketers seem to hold that accolade!

*Data source Gallup, via Marketing Charts. See: