I don’t tell lawyer jokes. And I try to indicate my displeasure—not laughing—when someone tells one. Today’s thoughts spin out my reasoning. My emotions, too.
A few days ago, a dear member of our congregation—we’ll call him Scott—died suddenly. He was a lawyer, highly regarded and beloved by clients and colleagues. He was born and raised around here, so his mourners have long histories that they shared with him. That kind of loss is nothing to laugh about.
He was the kind of attorney who did his work—real-estate law—accurately and justly. He was helpful in all aspects of law, so clients depended on him for related legal services—e.g., wills, trusts, etc. He was unassuming, but also quietly persuasive. He gave away hours of time and legal expertise in pro bono matters—assisting recent immigrants, various civic efforts and folks down on their luck. He was known for his character—honesty and truth-telling among his traits. His easy-going manner belied the sharp insistence of a legal mind devoted to what’s right. He was a man of faith—in God and in the rule of law. Nothing there to insult with cruel comedy.
Without people like Scott, many of us would be left to the devices of grifters, cheaters, liars or worse. Those of us stumbling around in legal swamps would continue wandering. People in duress would never escape their problems. Rule of law would be weakened, with physical and legal violence taking its place. I don’t find any of that funny.
I hope that imagined lawyer dishonesty is not your choice for jokes. But if you do want a good lawyer story to tell, try one like this:
Q: How many lawyers does it take to change God’s world?
A: Just one: Scott
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