September 26th, 2022 – To Kill a Mockingbird’s famously principled advocate Atticus Finch is the fictional character most small business owners feel best represents the lawyer stereotype, according to recent research.
Finch defends black man Tom Robinson against a rape charge before an all-white jury in small town Alabama in Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel.
And it is this bravery that resonated most with 1,000 SMEs quizzed in a YouGov survey commissioned by North West firm HM3 Legal.
Six per cent chose Atticus Finch over fellow legal eagles including The Godfather’s Tom Hagen, Ally McBeal and Tom Cruise’s iconic Mitch McDeere in The Firm.
The reassuring choice of Southern gentleman Finch – played to Oscar-winning acclaim by Gregory Peck in the 1962 film version – depicts lawyers in a good light.
Along with his courtesy, humility, integrity and dignity, Atticus is also characterised by his empathy and teaches his children the difference between physical and moral courage.
But whilst the reassuring quality comparisons were good news for lawyers, it wasn’t all praise from SMEs.
Around a third (32%) opted for the phrase ‘over-charged’ when asked to describe how they feel when working with law firms, while nearly two-thirds said they would need to be in ‘serious difficulty’ before contacting a legal expert for assistance.
And while descriptions such as ‘intelligent’ (42%), ‘smart’ (29%), and ‘savvy’ (21%) were the most popular, ‘money-grabbing’ (25%) also ranked highly.
Richard Burnett, Commercial Director at HM3 Legal, said: “We decided to find out what our potential clients really think about legal services – and we were pleased to see how many compared today’s lawyers to Atticus Finch, given his wonderful qualities.
“His humanising approach to defending his client is one you can only admire, and his journey in the iconic American novel shows him learning as much about himself as those around him in some tense and historic situations.
“Despite the recognition for Atticus Finch by those we polled, there were some more negative stats when it came to SMEs’ view of the legal profession.
“We appreciate that some smaller businesses have felt dissatisfied by services they’ve received regarding legal matters. At HM3 Legal, we do things differently. We don’t do legal jargon and our fees are fixed, so there are no nasty surprises.”
Mr Burnett highlighted the findings that showed while 61% of the small businesses surveyed said they would consult a local law firm if they were looking for legal advice, 63% revealed they would need to be in ‘serious legal difficulty’ before making an approach.
He added: “It’s worrying that business owners may be so turned off by working with a legal services provider that they wait until they are in serious legal difficulty before consulting a legal expert. Consulting a legal expert early in a potential legal situation, can save SMEs time and money.
“That’s why at HM3 Legal we have been working hard to provide a better service to our clients, to reassure them that we are there to help, and not lining our pockets.”
Earlier this year HM3 Legal launched its Six New Standards, which includes promises such as ‘fixed fees’ to avoid customers feeling over-charged or blind-sided by newly introduced costs, and a ‘no chase pledge’, guaranteeing that their legal team is on the case and not the other way around.
Mr Burnett added: “We know what it’s like to run an SME and we want to make them more successful. I tell the team, instead of ‘bloody lawyers’ we want our clients to think of us as the ‘bloody brilliant lawyers.’”
For more information about HM3 Legal visit www.HM3.Legal