Lawyer Jokes

First, pop culture lawyers were heroes. Then, pop culture lawyers were devils. These two extremes capture most of what the world sees of lawyers—they are either pursuers or destroyers of justice based on the angle of perception or bias. However both of these extremes leave out a major aspect of every real American lawyer: their humanity.

Let’s face it; most real lawyers are not as serious or somber as they have been portrayed for years across pop cultural mediums. Real lawyers like every other human being have their moments of weakness and self doubt, of romantic uplift and heartache, and of senseless comedic revelry. The development of the jester lawyer began with shows at the turn of the millennium such as “Ally McBeal” and “Boston Legal.” Both television shows featured large metropolitan law firms with a slew of jester lawyers for a cast. The humor however was based not in their humanity, but their quirks. The shows were just extended lawyer jokes featuring lawyers who were old and senile, neurotic and paranoid, or just plain weird, with catty women and dogs of men. In this era of television, while lawyers were beginning to demonstrate some depth through the moral issues they faced both in and outside their cases, and through their personal and romantic lives, the laughter was still aimed at the lawyer.

Two more recent lawyer comedy shows have hit the airwaves in the last few years and both, I would argue, feature jester lawyers as main characters who you laugh with more so than you laugh at. These two shows, “Drop Dead Diva” and “Franklin & Bash” feature young attorneys who often tap into their humanity to find creative and persuasive ways of winning their cases. These young attorneys both recognize and understand the things they are doing are both outlandish and likely unprofessional—but they invite the audience to laugh with them as they continue to seek justice in an often confusing legal system.

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Growing Pains

I recently had the opportunity to re-read the personal statement I submitted with my Marquette Law School application, now almost three years ago, for one of my current classes.  While many things had changed—for example I am now far less idealistic, definitely less “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed,” and no longer have a passion for criminal law—the opening and closing statements still ring true and effectively capture the development as a person and future lawyer I have experienced during my law school career at Marquette.  As the new class of future Marquette attorneys has only recently began this journey at Eckstein Hall, I wanted to write a blog post to them explaining what I think the most influential and important aspects of my almost-complete legal education have been.

“When a butterfly struggles to free itself from its cocoon, it causes fluid to be pumped back into its wings. This independent act of vigilance, determination, and extreme effort is what allows the butterfly to take flight. This fact has inspired me as I enter the next phase of my life, and has shaped my perception of law school’s purpose. I enter the ‘cocoon’ of law school well-prepared and with the knowledge that with conviction and a lot of hard work, after three years I too will take flight.”

The above paragraph, while admittedly a bit hokey, was the opening to my personal statement.  It reminds me of a fact that Father O’Meara shares with the entering 1L class each year: it is common knowledge in biology “that growth occurs along places where there is tension, stimulation, or irritation.”  His point is that tension is necessary for both development and learning. These statements illustrate the personal growth I, and I’m assuming most other students, experience during law school. 

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