Stop me if you’ve heard this one: For Love Your Lawyer Day, quick responses to lawyer jokes
We’ve all heard the jokes (and hey, some of them are even kind of good!).
But after a while, lawyer jokes become something to tolerate, rather than enjoy. You can only hear them so many times before they get old, and there are only so many ways one can chuckle good-naturedly while trying to think of a way to change the subject.
Love Your Lawyer Day — a time to celebrate all the many things that are positive about your chosen profession — is as good a time as any to share some clever (and factual) responses to common lawyer jokes. Keep the gist of these top of mind and you can have some witty repartee at your next party.
“You know what Shakespeare said, right? ‘The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.'”
Yes, that’s a line from The Bard’s play “Henry VI.” But here’s the thing — it was said by a villainous character who thought that if he upended society, he might have a chance to become king. He wanted to kill all the lawyers in England so that he could suspend the rule of law. So, in writing that, Shakespeare may have been paying a compliment to lawyers and judges, seeing them as the ones who upheld law and order. Without them, society would plunge into chaos. He wasn’t saying all lawyers should be exterminated!
“What’s the difference between a lawyer and a leech? Not much!”
A lot of people who follow that line of thinking probably don’t realize how many pro bono hours attorneys contribute each year. The American Bar Association’s Model Rule 6.1 states that each attorney should aim to provide 50 hours of pro bono work per year, and many contribute beyond that. In fact, as Reuters reports, pro bono participation went up during the pandemic. These pro bono hours are often devoted to service for children at risk, environmental causes, charitable groups, and vulnerable members of society. Those clients typically can’t arrange for an advocate themselves, so the pro bono work attorneys provide helps a lot. There’s plenty more work to be done when it comes to access to justice, but lawyers give back to society more than many people realize.
“A lawyer decided to name her son after the thing she treasured most. What did she name him? Bill.”
Many lawyers work at big firms and earn very excellent salaries, but many lawyers do not. About 12% of recent law school graduates go to work for the government, which often pays considerably less than private practice. Others work for nonprofits, and many start their own businesses. In fact, most lawyers in the U.S. work for firms of fewer than 20 lawyers. 63% of respondents to a 2019 American Bar Association survey said they worked in solo practice or at a law firm of fewer than nine attorneys. Furthermore, while fields like securities regulation and intellectual property can be lucrative, many important fields, like some types of immigration or elder care, pay considerably less but are vital to a fair and functioning society. It would be fantastic if a J.D. were a passport to Easy Street, but that isn’t always the case!
“What’s the difference between an accountant and a lawyer? Accountants know they’re boring.”
TV shows and movies make law seem like a glamorous profession. The truth is, a lot of legal work involves very time-consuming review of minutiae, tedious discovery, or yawn-a-minute deposition-taking. It may not be fun, but you would be at risk if you didn’t have someone who knew what he or she was doing read over all the fine print in that proposed contract, for example. And we know the practice of law isn’t all that interesting all the time — we do it every day!
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