THOSE DREADED LAWYER JOKES& WHAT WE TELL THE CHILDREN
(A Corplaw® Commentary)by Barry J. Lipson, Esq.
Law is an honorable profession!In what other profession, besides perhaps medicine, does its practitioners strive to resolve problemsand settle strife as early aspractical;instead of letting them grow and blossom into "mega-matters" thatwould produce immensely larger fees? What other profession devotes so much energy to pro bonomatters?Yet, lawyer bashing remains the sport of the century, and lawyer jokes have replaced ethnic jokes(which is probably, on balance, socially to the good). "Why," the newly deceased Pope asked St. Peter,"did you treat that lawyer so royally, while you made me wait for days and then lodged me in a hovel?"To this St. Peter promptly replied, "Well, yousee we've seen Popes up here before . . . . ."Even Jon Leibowitz, Esq., Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, on June 14, 2010, told alawyer joke to the prestigious American Medical Association House of Delegates. It seems "a doctor and a lawyer, driving toward each other on a remote country road, collide head on. They both get out of their cars and stand by the side of the road to wait for the police. The lawyer, seeing that the doctor isshaken up, offers him a drink out of a hip flask. The doctoraccepts and hands the flask back to thelawyer who caps it up and puts it back in his pocket. 'Aren't you going to have a drink yourself?' asks thedoctor. 'Sure,' replies the lawyer, after the police leave'."He then goes on, he says, to distance himself and his other FTC attorneys from the type of lawyer portrayed in this “dreaded lawyer joke.”Yes, doctors and lawyers have much in common, they are always "practicing" their professions (butdo either of them ever become proficient?), they both need to carry ample malpractice insurance, andthey are both plagued by freeloaders seeking free practical professional advice. Indeed, after the policeleft I tookthe doctorto my local bar (alcoholic not legal) where my friend the bartender, after Iintroduced him asapracticingphysician, asked him what to do abouttheshooting pain in his neck from being rear-ender in a different accident that morning. The doctor answered, but as we were leavingthe bar heasked me why my friend didn't also ask me about the legal aspects of his whiplash? "He knowsit's my practice to always bill when I give professional advice." The doctor said "great practice," andsent the bartender a bill. The next day the doctor received my bill for threetimes the amount of his [Just practicing kidding!].But enough humor, this subject is muchtooserious. Moreover, it can not be simply ignored or dismissed on the basis of a pet theory of mine that society really has a love/hate relationship with thelegal profession. That is, the average member of our society actually admires and respects lawyers,which engenders jealousy and then hate, which, of course, in turn, culminates in those
dread lawyer jokes.
To bring once again to the forefront a recognition of the ethics of the legal profession, and thenecessary and beneficial roles played by attorneys in our society, we must start with the children,