What Do You Call 1,000 Dead Lawyers? A Chance to Teach Legal Ethics

ethicsBrooklyn College professors James Lynch and Hershey Friedman decry a worldwide breakdown in ethics, citing financial scandals in the US, such as Enron and AIG, the contaminated milk scandal in China, etc., and “a race to the bottom (by) accounting firms, law firms, banks, Wall Street firms, schools, Congress, and corporations…all trying to prove that they can bend the rules and get away with it”.

They then wonder what has happened to the legal profession, which “is supposed to believe in pursuing the lofty ideals of integrity, equity, and justice?” They answer their own question: “The Bible may state (Deuteronomy 16:20): ‘Justice, and only justice shalt thou pursue’; the legal profession seems to believe that correct version of this quote should be, ‘Wealth, and only wealth shalt thou pursue.’” They blame the billable hour, “a flawed system that encourages lawyers to bill clients for time not worked. It also results in sloppy results because of fatigue and overwork.”

They want lawyers to act as “mediators, conciliators, and peacemakers—as counselors for what is right, not merely advocates for what is legally possible”.

To accomplish this, they recommend that law professors use lawyer jokes to teach legal ethics: “(lawyer) jokes…can be used to illustrate to students what happens when a profession has such a negative image…No one should want their profession to be synonymous with dishonesty”.

They conclude by stating that if their recommendation isn’t followed, then all lawyers should be executed.

Wait a minute. They absolutely did not state that. 

They did, however cite some lawyer jokes that express that sentiment:

What can you say about 1,500 lawyers buried up to their necks in cement?
Not enough cement.

How do you stop a lawyer from drowning?
Shoot him before he hits the water.

What do you do if you run over a Lawyer?
Back over him to make sure.

How do you get a lawyer out of a tree?
Cut the rope.

If a lawyer and an IRS agent were both drowning, and you could only save one of them, would you go to lunch or read the paper?

What is the ideal weight for a lawyer?
About three pounds, including the urn.

What’s the definition of “flagrant waste”?
A busload of lawyers going off the edge of a cliff with a vacant seat.

What do you call 5000 dead lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?
A good start!

About the author:
Curtis Cooper is principal of Lawyers Insurance GroupLegal Malpractice Insurance Brokers, which procures comprehensive legal malpractice insurance at the lowest possible cost.

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