The joke’s on me?

Hi My name is Karma be nice or I bite

Joke 1 – (“Lawyers are Di<$”)

Question: What does a lawyer get when you give him Viagra?

Answer: Taller.

The only profession that’s generated more jokes than the legal profession is the clergy.

It is older.

We love taking down hypocrites. Exposing the self-important to ridicule feels good. It’s dispensing justice.

So major newspapers carry bitingly accurate, cartoons that feature rich and powerful in unflattering ways. Remember Howard’s eyebrows and Carr’s ears? And, the skewered usually enjoy them.

Joke No. 2 (“god, law is SO boring.”)

One day in Contract Law class, the professor asked one of his better students, “Now if you were to give someone an orange, how would you go about it?”

The student replied, “Here’s an orange.”

The professor was livid. “No! No! Think like a lawyer!”

The student then recited, “Okay, I’d tell him, ‘I hereby give and convey to you all and singular, my estate and interests, rights, claim, title, claim and advantages of and in, said orange… and all rights and advantages with full power to bite, cut, freeze…”

Did you glaze over after reading, “I hereby give and convey…”??? That’s the point of this joke. To quote from the under-appreciated movie about the credit crunch, The Big Short. On describing Collaterised (yawn) Debt (yawn) Obligation Funds (or “CDCs”):

Does it make you feel stupid? It’s supposed to.’

To talk or not to talk

Lawyers do explain relevant law to you. It’s our job.

But more often our role is nearly the opposite to that. Not hiding the law, but making the mechanics of a dusty legal agreement quietly do what was intended.

So our job, to some degree, means you should be able to safely avoid thinking too much about it.

Like CDCs, the law is practically a foreign language. Your ability to grow your business might be inversely proportional to your obtaining a deep understanding of legislation and regulations.

The reason is that most sane people just want “the legal details handled”. So back to The Big Short, cut to a scene A bartender cum mortgage broker, sips a gigantic cocktail and says: “I like migrants… They just sign where you tell ’em to… These people just want homes.”

Yeah, disturbing. A High Court case (short-hand, Amadio), describes this scenario as repellent and illegal, but that’s at the extreme end.

You don’t need to dwell on the meaning of the jurisdictional clause of any contract you sign. But you certainly better care about the ‘essential terms’… which include

  • What?
  • How much?
  • When?
  • What happens if I don’t meet my obligations?
  • What happens if they don’t meet theirs?

(A word of warning. ‘Non-essential terms’ get essential like oxogen, when contracts head through a dispute.)

Personally, I forget the sheer tedium of my job. For instance, at home when proudly explaining a technical detail to my partner. Just before her slide from consciousness… from the opposite of spell-bound

Crushed ego or not – I stop.

Small mercies help relationships to thrive…

Joke 3 (“Being thorough… Being really, really thorough.”)

Question: What’s the difference between a good lawyer and a bad lawyer?

Answer: A bad lawyer can let a case drag out for several years. A good lawyer can make it last even longer.

Handling details

This joke stems from lawyers’ hourly fees in the context of a long running dispute. An absence of benefit from a pile of legal invoices is… dispiriting.

And that’s the dark side of your lawyer “handling the details”…

Expensive legal moves and counter-moves are opaque. So, then here’s the same joke, re-told with less-the-funny:

  • If your lawyer’s incompetent then he’ll cost a fortune, via idiocy and inefficiency; AND
  • If strategic / brilliant, then she’s the expertise to drag your matter out for as long as you cannot afford.

Karma’s effort to deal with this harsh but fair critique, is to smash our firm’s hourly rate to a (still significant) $220 per hour. The other response is our firm’s focus. Our focus is corporate & commercial legal work. Karma very rarely runs any open-ended litigation or disputes.

We kind of hate ’em…

Fixing prices that bite

Corporate and commercial law is often for managing transactions. It means we often fix prices.

Recently I handled the sale of a modest construction company. I underestimated the quantity of work. In my defence:

  1. some of the complexity wasn’t foreseeable; and 
  2. fixed pricing is, at some level, best-guessing.

So we didn’t make our hourly rate for the job.

But here’s the thing. My client took a risk also, when he agreed to our fixed price quote. If we’d mopped that job in under 2 days, then we would’ve earned more than our hourly rate.

The ‘other firm’ cost problem

Ideally, everyone is motivated to finish a legal agreement.

Ideally.

A firm’s charging rate certainly impacts how a matter is handled. 

Years ago, I settled a significant commercial lease with a well known retailer. Their lawyers dragged that straightforward deal through geography and topography, it had no reason to be near.

The job should have taken 2 weeks but took 6. 

In a fixed fee arrangement, the same deal would’ve been a distant memory at the 6 week mark…

Joke 4 (“Lawyers and clergy in an unholy marriage.”)

A lawyer dies and goes to Heaven.

“There must be some mistake,” the lawyer argues. “I’m too young to die. I’m only 55.”

“Fifty-five?” says Saint Peter. “No, according to out calculations, you’re 82.”

“How’d you get that?” the lawyer asks.

Answers St. Peter, “We added up your time sheets.”

Retelling without-the-funny…

This ‘classic’ insider joke is about Defrauding Their Clients Via Overcharging…

Um… hypocrisy?

Each of the 4 jokes were circulated on http://www.lawyersweekly.com.au/. 

Did the skewered (lawyers) enjoy their jokes?

But isn’t the overcharged (clients), the ones who really get skewered?

Leave a Comment