Lawyers are notorious for taking on ‘losing’ clients to extract payment from the Government.
But there are a few legal terms which they also use to describe themselves.
“Loser” is one of them.
A lawyer might say they are “in the losing party’s corner” but they are also “in charge” of the case, according to the Australian Lawyers Association’s rules of conduct.
The association says the term is used “as a way to refer to someone who is not the one to whom a case is being brought”.
Lawyers are infamous for taking out expensive advertising campaigns and often have their own TV ads or newspaper ads which they post online.
The law says if they can’t get a payment from someone, they have to tell the Government about it.
The ABC understands one of those advertisements was for a $1 million debt which was settled in 2015.
The advertisement said it was not legal for the lawyer to use “loser” as a term.
However, it said they were trying to find a way around the rules by taking on the case.
A spokeswoman for the Association of Legal Practitioners said the law did not specifically state that a lawyer can’t use “losers” as an excuse.
But she said it might be “justifiable to take advantage of such an opportunity”.
“A losing party is a person whose interests are being taken from and the lawyer must try to get the money back,” she said.
“It’s a very good thing to do, but it may be justifiable to do so.”
The ABC has also spoken to lawyers who have used the term “lose-loser”.
“I’d call myself a loser, but I am a winner,” said one of the former lawyers we spoke to.
A former barrister, who did not want to be named, said it made sense.
“I’m not a lawyer,” he said.
But he admitted that was not the whole story.
“We’ve got to work hard to get paid,” he added.
Another former lawyer said the term had become “a catch-all term”.
“The lawyer is a loser,” he told us.
“He’s not the only loser, there’s the pay cheque, the phone bill, the house, the car, the child.”
The legal profession has changed for the better in the last decade.
In the mid-2000s, there was a perception that the profession was more focused on the interests of lawyers than on those of ordinary people.
But with the advent of the Internet, there has been a shift away from the “lawyers as losers” approach to the more “lawyer as winners”.
The association’s rules state that lawyers must “seek to achieve the highest legal and ethical standard of conduct”.
The rules also say “a lawyer’s reputation must not be impaired by conduct that would cause a loss to the client”.
It is also important to remember that there are different types of losses in the legal profession.
A losing party might not even know that they are a loser.
If the client gets into legal trouble, the lawyer may have to pay back the money to the party.
In some cases, the law may even require the lawyer who is a losing party to pay the other side of the dispute.
The rules state: “It is the lawyer’s duty to seek to achieve, through appropriate means, the highest ethical and legal standard of practice and conduct in the representation of a client in relation to a matter in which the client is a party.”
There are also strict rules about what can be disclosed about the case to the media.
“The media must not disclose information that would identify the client as a losing, or the party or party’s lawyers as a loser or a loser’s party,” the rules state.
“No media outlet, including a local newspaper, may publish, broadcast or otherwise make available to the public any information, including any financial or other document, about the matter to which the information relates, unless such information is otherwise made available in accordance with this Part.”
The rules go on to say that the information must not “infringe upon the integrity of the profession, or cause a breach of the law or the public trust”.
The ABC also spoke to lawyers and clients who were unhappy with the term.
One of them, a woman from Queensland, told the ABC that it made her “feel guilty” about being in court.
She said the phrase “losing” made her feel like she had “betrayed my profession”.
“It makes me feel guilty, because you know you’re a loser in the eyes of the Law Society of Queensland and your lawyers,” she told the organisation.