As you will remember from Part 1 of this series, lawyer jokes fall into several types. Here are some examples of Type 2- “Lawyers are Greedy”:
A lawyer, a used car salesman and a banker were gathered by a coffin containing the body of an old friend. In his grief, one of the three said, “In my family, we have a custom of giving the dead some money, so they’ll have something to spend over there.”They all agreed that this was appropriate. The banker dropped a hundred dollar bill into the casket, and the car salesman did the same. The lawyer took out the bills and wrote a check for $300.***
A dog ran into a butcher shop and grabbed a roast off the counter. Fortunately, the butcher recognized the dog as belonging to a neighbor of his. The neighbor happened to be a lawyer.
Incensed at the theft, the butcher called up his neighbor and said, “Hey, if your dog stole a roast from my butcher shop, would you be liable for the cost of the meat?” The lawyer replied, “Of course, how much was the roast?” “$7.98.”
A few days later the butcher received a check in the mail for $7.98. Attached to it was an invoice that read: “Legal Consultation Service: $150 .”
A man went into a lawyer’s office, and demanded to see the lawyer. He was escorted into the lawyer’s office.
The man needed legal help, but he knew how expensive lawyers could be, so he inquired, “Can you tell me how much you charge?”
“Of course”, the lawyer replied, “I charge $500 to answer three questions.”
“Don’t you think that’s an awful lot of money to answer three questions?”
“Yes it is”, answered the lawyer, “What’s your third question?”
So where do these jokes come from? One possible explanation is to tie this in with Part 1 – the formerly racist joke – and argue that these jokes allow lawyers to dust off Jewish jokes. While that may be partly true, especially given the number of Jewish attorneys out there, I think that explanation lets the profession off the hook too easily.
One possible explanation is that we charge a lot, and “feast on misery,” to quote the Simpsons – we usually only do our jobs when the client has a problem.
Then I thought about plumbers, doctors, roofers, etc. They charge a lot. They each “feast on misery.” No one wants to call a plumber, or break an arm and go to the doctor, and heck, as we speak there are roofers at my house because my roof is leaking and dripping onto my bed. But you don’t have plumber/roofer jokes, and doctor jokes don’t hinge upon them being greedy.
I think it comes from a failure as a profession to show value to our clients. I can tell when my toilet stops leaking, and I can see the new roof. When I feel better or get my arm in a cast, I know what a doctor did. But how good are we at telling/showing our clients what we actually do for them, and what value we bring to the table?
I think this is something the profession as a whole needs to work on. Even when we do something tangible and good – ie a favorable jury verdict – the client may still wonder if the result would have been the same if he had tried the case himself.
So… how do you show value to your clients?