A story from this week’s issue implied (OK… stated categorically) that there are no lawyers in heaven. First the story, and then the reaction from a lawyer reader:
Mircea Pavel, 40, is serving 20 years in prison in Romania for murder. But that didn’t keep him from filing suit in a Timisoara court accusing “the defendant God, who lives in the heavens and is represented in Romania by the Orthodox Church,” of “fraud, betrayal of trust, corruption and influence peddling.” Pavel claims that “At my christening, I made a deal with the defendant aimed at freeing me from evil. But the latter has not respected that agreement until now, although he received from me various assets and numerous prayers.” But the court threw out the suit, noting that “God is not subject to law and does not have an address.” (AFP) …Not bad, considering God doesn’t have any lawyers up there to defend Him.
When I wrote that tagline, I expected to hear from a lot of lawyers — I’ve noticed three main professions stand out among the Premium crowd, what I call The Three Cs: clergy, cops, and counselors (aka lawyers).
Guess What? No Screaming!
I was pretty sure I’d get plenty of gritching from them, but I didn’t! OK, so I’m not at all surprised that lawyers can take a joke: they hear all sorts of outrageous charges every day, and know how not to take things too personally.
In fact I only got two letters, one pro and one con. And the con wasn’t all that angry; it’s from Steve in Pennsylvania, a nine-year(!) veteran of the Premium edition:
I’d like to mildly object to the ‘no lawyers in heaven’ theme of your tagline. Humor is fine. Balance is better. While there are no shortage of Stella-candidate lawyers, there are plenty who deserve our thanks and praise.
Every time you hear the words ‘activist court’, such as Brown v Bd of Ed (desegregation) or Gideon v. Florida (? — right to counsel) [actually Gideon v. Wainwright — but it did originate in Florida -rc], or Miranda v. Arizona (arrestee’s rights) or other cases like the Pentagon Papers (press freedom) or the Watergate decisions (to turn over tapes) or cases that have been made into movies like Erin Brockovich (pollution), there is a lawyer who took on the system and made the world a better place. Surely SOME of them deserve to be in heaven.
You guessed it, I am a lawyer (specializing in computer security). Not at all thin skinned, though. I especially like the lawyer/judge jokes on JumboJoke. This note is perspective, not complaint.
Well argued, counselor.
The Pro, and My Response
Oh, and the “pro” letter? It’s from Alan in England, who simply wrote: “By definition. They are all in Hell. Brilliant newsletter. Keep up the good work.”
In my True Stella Awards book I argued that lawyers need to do a lot to work on their image, rather than complain about that image.
From The True Stella Awards, Page 288:
[A New Jersey lawyer complaining about my Stella Awards case write-ups] dragged out that old consolation used by slimy attorneys everywhere: “Everyone hates lawyers — until they need one.” Sorry, Jersey: we hate them even then. Lawyers have set up a system where average people are at a complete disadvantage if they don’t have someone on their side that has taken years to learn every nuance of the system — complexities that lawyers themselves have created.
As we see, trial lawyers whining “everybody hates lawyers” doesn’t provide much of a defense. If the public’s perception of lawyers and the abuse of civil courts is wrong, it’s up to the lawyers to fix that perception. Lawyers have graduate degrees in arguing, yet they have allowed their fellow professionals to destroy the profession’s reputation until it was universally looked upon with disrespect. The True Stella Awards was created to explore that concept from the public’s point of view. The public is wrong? Then lawyers need to get to work on countering the perception. If they don’t, the public will continue to simply assume that they very simply can’t counter it.
Frankly, lawyer Steve in Pennsylvania is on the right side of this argument, but he’s a shiny clean drop trying to counter a tsunami of dirty water rushing down the courthouse steps. I’m sure there are other good lawyers out there that can stand behind him. I hope there are enough to truly counter the bad guys. But I fear there are not.
Obviously the tagline was a joke. What do you think: was it fair?
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