Professional Ethics Rankings
Lawyers continue to receive relatively low public ratings for professional honesty and ethics, according to the annual Gallup poll on the subject. The poll, by telephone of 1,010 adult Americans, asked people to assess the standards of honesty and ethics in 21 professions as very high or high/average/low or very low.
Nurses receive the highest scores (84/14/<2), followed by pharmacists, high school teachers, doctors, cops, clergy, funeral directors and accountants. Lobbyists receive the lowest: (<9/27/64). Lobbyists are preceded in their cohort by labor union leaders (16/45/35), followed by lawyers (18/45/37), then business executives (12/49/37), advertising professionals, stockbrokers, Members of Congress, car sales-people, and telemarketers in dead last. In the middle cohort are journalists (25/44/31), bankers (23/53/23), building contractors and real estate agents. Results for most professions were roughly constant this year compared to last. But two points stand out. First, bankers took a beating this year, the first time since 1996 they registered below 30% in the very high + high category and, at 23%, the lowest they’ve received in the poll's history. The pollsters attribute the results to the economic crisis, natch. Second, business executives last year registered 14% in the very high + high category which, while not a huge drop to 12% this year, is the lowest they’ve received in the poll’s history—having hit highs of 25% in both 1990 and 2001. The economic crisis, again.