A lawyer walks into a bar…

January 7, 2009
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Stop me if you’ve heard this one: How many personal injury lawyers does it take to change a light bulb? The answer: Three – one to change the light bulb, one to destabilize the ladder, and one to sue the ladder manufacturer.

The joke above comes from my new 2009 desk calendar: “Lawyers: Jokes, Quotes, and Anecdotes.” It’s filled with other jokes that take a crack at the profession, along with quotes from the movies or real people about attorneys, and excerpts from actual court records.

I can think of no other profession besides car salesman, or perhaps clergyman, that has as many jokes made at its expense as the legal profession. The calendar got me thinking about why that is and what makes these jokes funny. Is it because there’s a hint of truth to them or that they play into the stereotype the general public has about lawyers?

At what point in our society did lawyers get a bad rap and jokes about them become funny? I’ve found some of the quotes in this calendar go back to the mid 19th century. I’ve heard or read numerous jokes about lawyers, and I usually laugh at them. How do you, as members of the legal profession, feel about lawyer jokes?

Here are a few more for your enjoyment:

Why is money green? A: Because attorneys pick it when it’s ripe.

What do you call a criminal lawyer? A: Self-aware.

Did you hear the one about the big-shot attorney who broke off his engagement after six months? He sent his ex-fiancée an invoice for 4,572 billable hours.
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  1. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  2. If the end result is to simply record the spoke word, then perhaps some day digital recording may eventually be the status quo. However, it is a shallow view to believe the professional court reporter's function is to simply report the spoken word and nothing else. There are many aspects to being a professional court reporter, and many aspects involved in producing a professional and accurate transcript. A properly trained professional steno court reporter has achieved a skill set in a field where the average dropout rate in court reporting schools across the nation is 80% due to the difficulty of mastering the necessary skills. To name just a few "extras" that a court reporter with proper training brings into a courtroom or a deposition suite; an understanding of legal procedure, technology specific to the legal profession, and an understanding of what is being said by the attorneys and litigants (which makes a huge difference in the quality of the transcript). As to contracting, or anti-contracting the argument is simple. The court reporter as governed by our ethical standards is to be the independent, unbiased individual in a deposition or courtroom setting. When one has entered into a contract with any party, insurance carrier, etc., then that reporter is no longer unbiased. I have been a court reporter for over 30 years and I echo Mr. Richardson's remarks that I too am here to serve.

  3. A competitive bid process is ethical and appropriate especially when dealing with government agencies and large corporations, but an ethical line is crossed when court reporters in Pittsburgh start charging exorbitant fees on opposing counsel. This fee shifting isn't just financially biased, it undermines the entire justice system, giving advantages to those that can afford litigation the most. It makes no sense.

  4. "a ttention to detail is an asset for all lawyers." Well played, Indiana Lawyer. Well played.

  5. I have a appeals hearing for the renewal of my LPN licenses and I need an attorney, the ones I have spoke to so far want the money up front and I cant afford that. I was wondering if you could help me find one that takes payments or even a pro bono one. I live in Indiana just north of Indianapolis.

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