Have a Happy, Glad, Delighted, Cheerful New Year!
I don’t usually link to or reference “lawyer jokes” even though you will find plenty of lawyers who do. The typical joke usually has the basis of the lawyer being greedy and parasitic. I don’t think that is a fair picture of my profession and I won’t pass along humor that strengthens that stereotype.
This video however is appropriate for the season, funny, doesn’t play to a greedy stereotype, and I can’t get that mad at the Muppets. It also highlights bad habits that lawyers sometimes get. The first is to use three words when one will do. Whenever I write a letter or contract, I do try to choose words carefully. Some lawyers will keep adding language just to cover themselves and their meaning at best gets lost. Some lawyers like to throw in Latin phrases, rain down semi-colons and use “WHEREAS” and “PARTIES OF THE FIRST PART” and other verbal noise. Lawyers are also bad about cutting and pasting documents and you wind up with paragraphs of language that might have been relevant to one case, but not to the current one. A lawyer should write so that everybody actually understands exactly what is meant. Sometimes that does take a bit of language to cover every detail, but shouldn’t require legal boilerplate and a layperson should be able to understand it if they read it carefully.
The second problem is overpromising. Kermit could probably get away with it, but lawyers should be careful and never promise that all the client’s dreams will come true. I run into the problem of unrealistic client expectations a lot caused by cocktail party conversation with some unnamed lawyer who told my client they had a great case, but of course, he couldn’t take it because he was busy/out of town/had a conflict/not in his specialty/disbarred. Lawyers need to tell their clients constantly what the realistic risks and benefits are of their case are so they can make an informed decision about their case.
–Bradley A. Coxe is a practicing attorney in Wilmington, NC who specializes in Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice, Contract and Real Estate disputes and all forms of Civil Litigation. Please contact him at (910) 772-1678.