Lawyer Jokes

Lawyer jokes, that date back to Shakespeare’s day, are regularly told by individuals outside the legal profession as a mode of derision, scorn and contempt. They serve simply as a mode of social commentary or nightly commentary reflecting the professional attitude of lawyers towards their professional peers. Whether in print or on television, a witty comment by a lawyer can make quite an impact and can be appreciated by all who are around.

A few lines from a comic strip may be all that is needed to lighten the somber atmosphere of any professional setting. Such jokes or gags, if we refer to them that way, are not meant to be taken seriously. Rather they are meant to be enjoyed, lampooned and ridiculed. The same attitude can be extended to a professional lawyer and can do tremendous justice to the spirited debate that is so typical in the court of law. It is an aspect that is rarely, if ever, addressed in professional legal writing.

Such jokes are, for example, in great demand during divorce proceedings, or in the existence of a spouse who has an enormous ego. In this regard, a divorce case has been turned into a weekly routine by many a humorist. With his crude jokes and observations about family dysfunction, the lawyer jokes have found a ready market among the people. They have become a sort of underground language that permeates our subcultural life. A certain layer of social approval is required to make it ‘worthy’ to circulate among a target audience of attorneys. The joke writer has to ensure that he remains within the boundaries of accepted norms of good taste.

Another major category of lawyer jokes is aimed at a more elite segment of the legal fraternity. Such jokes are aimed at attaining status and higher office. Such jokes are considered farce. Yet they are still widely distributed, with the attendant grave consequences. Lawyer jokes are thus not without dangers.

The lawyer jokes targeted at the legal elite include references to the profession and jargon commonly used there. This category of jokes includes the more mature genre of witty comments, like ‘You should be careful not to smudge your initials into that marble!’ or ‘If you are practicing law, you might as well be playing cards!’ However, these jokes fall well short of crossing the line into obscenity. They are, however, aimed at a highly discerning group of readers and should not be expected to be enjoyed by the broader mass.

Yet even within the boundaries of the legal elite, there are a host of jokes aimed at the bar association. The jokes here are aimed at securing the long term reputation of the lawyer as an authority on the subject, as well as creating a sense of loyalty among his peers. Such lawyer jokes are likely to create a stir amongst colleagues who see themselves as having inherited an inherited honour, but some may find them offensive on other grounds.

Many lawyers regard any jokes with which they are familiar as ‘extinctable’. This might seem a strange position to hold when the very nature of the legal profession – its reputation for impishness and cynicism – is the very basis on which this line of attack is mounted. Yet the very opposite is true: that the very people whose professionalism and dedication to the rule of law the jokes remind them are perhaps even more reticent than they were in the past. Barristers and judges who may have once looked down their noses at some of the tactics used by the comic solicitor are now famous for their ability to inject some levity into proceedings.

Today’s world can be unforgiving to those who do not take offence. There are many occasions on which lawyer jokes would be suitable, as they are in fact in the majority of fields. Even public figures can occasionally be found making jokes about their profession. For example, President Bush made light of his own legal problems by joking that he should probably try not to make any more car accidents! The President of the USA and Prime Minister John Major also enjoy popular lawyer jokes; so much so that the two have been pictured as having a love of legal jokes – an image cemented into many people’s memories by the likes of Mr. Terry Wogan, the UK’s most well known comedy actor.

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