Articles and Other Thoughts of the Day
Yep, I admit it, I think they are hilarious! Feel free to send me your best lawyer joke (with permission for me to use your prose in a future blogs).
I’m not sure why I get so amused by lawyer jokes as the vast majority of attorneys I encounter are honorable, ethical and all-around great people. I feel very honored to be a member of the bar in Fort Collins because the people I met have had a great impact on how I practice law. I have observed numerous, excellent, lawyers whose behaviors I (hopefully) incorporated into my practice; and, yes, I have observed a few behaviors I try to avoid.
So why are lawyer jokes so prolific (and amusing)? Perhaps it is because the legal process can seem daunting and “knocking it down a few pegs” with humor helps us emotionally. That’s fair, and why I strive in every case to make sure my clients understand the process, law, evidence, etc., before they make crucial family decisions.
Perhaps it is because we are angry. That is also fair. Family law can be challenging and emotional. I try to never forget that you are going through a very difficult time. Whether you are involved in a divorce, custody dispute or child support modification, you may be feeling overwhelmed and angry. I believe the process attempts to be fair, but I also understand there are times you may not feel like it accomplishes this goal. Humor can help, though it is only 1 tool in the tool-box. A well balanced support system is also recommended. Include in your tool-box a counselor, financial planner, parent, or just a really good friend.
Maybe, and quite possibly, lawyer jokes are funny because we lawyers do have a little bit of the characteristic portrayed in those jokes. For example, have you ever seen a transcript from an actual court record and wondered, “how could the attorney say something like that?!” In my experience (J), what happened is the attorney was simply thinking faster than his/her mouth could speak. Let’s be honest with one another – we have all done that! I, for one, am scared to death to use the word “success” in the courtroom. I just know I will get talking fast and will start telling the court about someone’s “sex life” instead of their “success in life.” Now THAT would be one for the joke books!
Here’s a funny one:
The fence broke down between Heaven and Hell.
When Saint Peter saw it, he called out to the Devil. “Hey Satan, it’s your turn to fix it this time.”
“Sorry, no can do,” the Devil replied. “My minions are too busy to take time out to fix a mere fence.”
Exasperated, Saint Peter scowled. “Well, all right. I’ll just have to sue you for breaking our agreement.”
“Oh really? Satan laughed. “And were are you going to get a lawyer?”
I had the opportunity to see Hamilton in New York last November (thank you Stacey!). It was an incredible experience that inspired me to learn more about this historical figure. In the course of reading, Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, I came across the following quote:
“I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be.”
- Alexander Hamilton
Letter of August 13, 1782
On numerous occasions, but with far less eloquence, I have offered the same advice to my clients. We enter into the divorce process wanting the opposing party to behave differently, respond differently, stop being angry, stop doing whatever-it-is-they-are-doing-that-is-so irritating! In other words – we want them to change. The reality is, the opposing party is not going to change. (If the opposing party were able to change, I don’t think you would be reviewing the website of a divorce attorney.)
There can be freedom with the knowledge the other party is not going to change. When we start accepting people as they are, and not as we want them to be, we may be able to eliminate feelings of “disappointment.” Disappointment occurs when we believe someone should behave in a certain manner – but they don’t (“won’t,” “can’t,” “choose not too”… feel free to choose the words that fit your situation). You cannot be disappointed by the actions of others when those actions are exactly what you have come to expect.
Another wonderful thing could happen when we accept others for who they are, and not who we want them to be: acceptance can grow into understanding, and understanding may just lead to forgiveness.
Don’t worry if you aren’t feeling very gracious at this time. These aspirational goals take time and a great deal of effort. I hope that in time, and after some healing, you will be able to achieve the peace of forgiveness.