The value and pain of shades of grey lawyers
Aren't lawyers fun to hang out with? Isn't it great when we correct you on minutiae, argue the opposite of your position, and say, "well actually it's probably not that simple" all the time? Yeah. It's the best.
Of course, it isn't really. * Sometimes you just want to be black and white about things. He was wrong. I should be allowed to do what I'm doing. We have proof that she lied. Having a lawyer around usually means having your certainty and fervour tempered with "Yes, but," which is exactly what you don't want to hear when you feel strongly about something.
But, friends, if you are prone to black and white views and a forthright attitude (ie, if you have human tendencies), that annoying lawyer voice may be exactly what you may need to hear, especially if the law is complex or novel and/or you have a lot of feelings about the issue in question.
Our brains look for patterns and stories to make sense of the world all the time. It is part of how we have survived as long as we have and it is such an inherent function of our minds that we have to make special effort to step back, consider the story our brain has developed, and decide whether we really want to take it forward with us.
This is happening all the time, but when we have little information or we are strongly emotionally involved in something, the pattern-finding, story-making parts of our brain go into overdrive. We can become certain of things that are easily disproved, and reluctant to let go of narratives that feel right to us, even when presented with evidence to the contrary.
Which is why lawyers, along with other professional advisers, can be so valuable. Most of us have built a career in the muddled subtleties between black and white. We are highly sensitive to shifts and changes and risks and consequences and possibilities and half-truths. We are vigilant about what it means to be right or wrong about something, and we know that often there is no objective, definitive result. We know, for example, that a written clause will rarely give a full answer on its own, and we know that evidence sufficient to "prove" a thing is rare.
I'm not saying lawyers always get it right or that there is no place for forthright certainty, just that a lawyer you trust can add tremendous value with a broader and more detailed perspective of the law and your position in it, with the potential to save you entrenchment, embarrassment, and/or distress. The objectivity and (hopefully) big picture perspective of your lawyer is an asset you should prize and rely on whenever you can.
* I should note that lawyers are actually very fun to hang out with. For example, most of us have a good collection of excellent puns that we can produce on demand.