Laughable lawyers are funny—but not on purpose.
Lawyers and law schools work very hard to convince the public that we are an educated, rational, prudent bunch. It’s important to create that image of us collectively and individually, because who wants to hire an irrational, reckless lawyer?
Yet we watch helplessly as lawyers (all thinking they are just doing what lawyers do) blunder blindly down dark alleys. A few moments later, a set of spotlights come on, and, behold! This week’s Laughable Lawyer!
How does this happen? Could it happen to you?
Who are these laughable lawyers?
Laughable Lawyers (“LLs”) are not typical bad lawyers who combine half-baked understanding of law and procedure with an honors degree from the Atilla the Hun Charm School. Those lawyers are a dime a dozen. LLs go above and beyond (or below and way past) typical bad lawyering. For example:
- A typical bad lawyer might agree to defend a person accused of murder, despite being a newly minted lawyer with zero trial experience. But when that terrible decision backfires, an LL responds by suing everyone who noticed.
- A typically bad lawyer might demand $20,000 from a cartoonist for having the gall to complain that his work is used without permission on a client’s website. But when the cartoonist (to no sane person’s surprise) mocks and ridicules the lawyer, then starts a charity fundraiser, the LL sues him and the charities.
Of course the first bad decision is merely a disaster. A merely bad lawyer would suffer a severely bruised ego, probably cry for a while, then go on being a somewhat less-lousy lawyer by not making the same mistake again. Still lousy, but not spectacularly so. The lawyer’s name, if not the mistake, would be forgotten by the general public.
But the LL does not follow this well-worn path, an excursion down the trail of hard experience. Heavens, no. The LL has been done wrong, and justice must be done! After all, that is what the law is for!
So the LL achieves legendary status by suing everyone he can think of that was even tangentially connected to the defeat (and more importantly, the insult).
No hope for the hopeless
Why do some lawyers double down on stupid? One might suggest it’s just in their DNA, and that they would flame out spectacularly no matter what their profession, due to judgment so bad it seems to approach mental illness.
I think it’s a bit more complex than that, a triple whammy, a fateful combination of nature, nurture (the result of helicopter parenting) that sends people into the world with no ability to emotionally cope with the fact that they will often fail, and the toxic effect of law school, which teaches mostly that the solution to every problem is litigation.
The worst part of all this (or the best part, depinding on your perspective) is that next month’s and next year’s LLs have no idea they are going to make a big mistake, that they will promtly multiply by a much bigger mistake, because they have no idea they are fatally flawed this way.
So, if that’s you, we’ll see you online. Just so you know, we’ll be laughing at you, not with you. You will learn little or nothing from your experience. Meanwhile, we will be observing again what we aleady understand.
(photo: sad man from Shutterstock)