Knock it off with the lawyer jokes, already.
That is an ineloquent way to wish you a Happy Love Your Lawyer Day, to be celebrated this Friday, November 6. This will be the 15th year that the American Lawyers Public Image Association has urged America—nay, the world—to set aside anti-lawyer antipathy and to thank JDs for all the good that they do. (Spread the hashtag: #LoveYourLawyerDay)
Pucker up, SCOTUS: America’s coming in for a kiss.
Here’s how ALPIA describes the event:
“Since 2001, ALPIA has designated the first Friday of every November as a day to show love, appreciation and thanks to lawyers and judges everywhere. We encourage the American public to shower their favorite legal eagles with sincere affection: a phone call, a card, or even flowers or a gift. That also means no lawyer jokes and no lawyer bashing on that day! In return, we ask all attorneys to perform one hour of pro bono work or donate one billable hour to a charity like the Make-A-Wish Foundation.”
(The organization was oddly silent on whether your favorite legal magazine staff members should benefit from your sincere affection. An oversight, I’m sure.)
The organization and its executive director, Nader Anise, are—let’s admit it—charming in their earnestness. I mean, there may be no bigger fan of lawyers and their work than I, but it had not occurred to me to shower fellow attorneys I know with affection, let alone a flower or a gift.
The steady determination of ALPIA has paid off, though—at least if you call making inroads into the ABA a success. As the organization says in one of the odder ABA-related press releases I’ve ever come across:
“‘National Love Your Lawyer Day has officially reached a tipping point,’ proclaims Nader Anise, Executive Director of the American Lawyers Public Image Association. ‘We are absolutely delighted that the American Bar Association Law Practice Division has passed a resolution to adopt National Love Your Lawyer Day as an occasion worth embracing and celebrating.’ Anise believes this is a game-changer: ‘Having such an influential backer gives this annual lawyer celebration—our entire mission, in fact—a huge boost. Things are about to get very interesting.’”
But this 15-year effort goes beyond mere affection, for the pacifist organization ALPIA has declared war on the lawyer joke. Or, as their website puts it, “First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers (jokes).”
ALPIA has a plan in that regard. For in that same press release, ALPIA explains how it will strike a death blow against lawyer jokes:
“Don’t forget—no lawyer bashing on November 6th. Tell a lawyer joke that crosses the line and you’ll have to pay a $20 fine per violation. Asked whether the ‘fine’ should be paid to ALPIA, Anise responds, ‘Absolutely not. The money should go to the person’s charity of choice.’”
Congratulations and best of luck to Nader on November 6—and on all days throughout the year when people should appreciate the hard work of lawyers.
But because this is a full-service blog, I do offer a fallback plan.
So what if you hear someone boorishly mutter a lawyer joke in your presence on Friday? Step 1 is to remind them what day it is, and to suggest they make amends by ponying up a 20 to a great charity.
But what if … I don’t know … they’re a total knob and are not swayed by the wisdom of your approach?
That’s where Malcolm Kushner comes in, with what I call Step 2. Malcolm is the author of “Comebacks for Lawyer Jokes: The Restatement of Retorts” (Museum of Humor.com Press, 2015).
Yes, there is such a book. Its 191 pages offer you quick ripostes for those who think lawyer-bashing is a fun sport. Or, as Malcolm describes it, “It’s a couple hundred lawyer jokes and the perfect lines for the lawyer who wants to intercept them in a very intelligent way.”
Here are a few examples (in the spirit of #LoveYourLawyerDay, I will omit the actual punchlines; contact me if you’d like them. But have some class; don’t ask me on November 6!):
- The boor says: How many law professors does it take to change a light bulb?
- You intercede before he voices his oh-so-witty bon mot and answer: None. That’s a job for a research assistant.
OK, let me try again:
- The boor says: What’s the difference between a lawyer and an onion?
- You answer: Lawyers don’t have thin skins.
Hmmm. How about:
- The boor says: Why did the lawyer go to heaven?
- You answer: He wanted to live in a gated community.
By now you may have decided you need a Plan C to address those wielding lawyer-jokes. I’m obligated to remind you that physical violence is never OK. So be sure to develop that thicker skin.
You can hear more directly from Malcolm Kushner here.
In any case, best of luck to ALPIA, Nader Anise, Malcolm Kushner, and all the lawyers they embrace! And even if you don’t spread your own love, spread the hashtag: #LoveYourLawyerDayFollow @azatty