So there you are, doing your thing, striving to make a living by lawyering, perhaps enjoying a cocktail with some fellow lawyers, when someone nearby lets fly with:
What’s the difference between a lawyer and an onion?
You cry when you cut up an onion.
Laughter ensues, usually followed by more lawyer jokes.
So there you are, drink in hand, listening. How do you feel? And what do you do or say?
Everybody’s a comedian
Lawyer jokes are ubiquitous. In sharp contrast with, for example, jokes about ethnic or racial groups, people tell lawyer jokes and and pass them around without any apparent fear of offending anyone. There are other professions, like government employment, that draw barbed humor as well, but lawyer jokes seem to me to be more common, and meaner.
Some lawyers get very upset when they hear lawyer jokes, or are troubled by what the popularity of lawyer jokes says about the public’s view of our profession. Law professors even write books about them.
It’s all about you
But what do your individual feelings about lawyer jokes say about you?
Here’s my take:
I think I’m a competetent and honest lawyer with a sense of humor.
I don’t mind lawyer jokes. I collect the best ones I hear and read.
I am glad that lawyers do work that is seen as important enough to take up a significant part of the vox populi’s bandwidth. People tell lawyer jokes because lawyers do work that directly affects people in significant and long-term ways.
While I don’t think a lawyer who is upset by laywer jokes is a bad lawyer, I do think that lawyer is probably:
A bit too “into” the whole “prestige” thing in having a law license. In other words, has a self-esteem problem.
One who finds it very difficult to deal with the by-its-very-nature ethically ticklish work of lawyering, especially getting paid.
Not a lawyer I want to hang out with at happy hour, and would probably prefer not to have to deal with professionally, either, if I can avoid it.
What do you think? Straighten me out (or share your favorite lawyer joke) in the comments.
(photo: A young man on stage from Shutterstock)