Juries

Columnist: Stop Laughing at Lawyer Jokes


A columnist who recently was called for jury duty was so impressed with the process that he is urging his readers to stop laughing at lawyer jokes.

Lawyers largely don’t deserve their rotten reputation, columnist J. Karl Miller writes for the Columbia Missourian. “Lawyers, primarily those serving the defense, are too often portrayed as dishonest, sleazy and opportunistic, caring only for sending criminals back onto the streets while extracting exorbitant fees,” he says.

He notes a Harris Poll in which those expressing “a great deal of confidence” in law firms had dropped from 24 percent in 1973 to 7 percent in 1997. He suspects the decline was spurred in large part by higher attorney fees and the increase in lawyers. “Fairly or unfairly, [lawyers] are seen as overpaid and overabundant,” he says. Frivolous lawsuits, misguided verdicts, bad TV advertising and lawyers behaving badly in public office also likely contributed to the public’s negative view.

But hardworking, honest lawyers outnumber the bad apples, he concludes. Miller witnessed the dedication of both lawyers and judges during his own experience with juror voir dire.

The next time you hear a lawyer joke, Miller tells his readers: “Stop and think. Lawyers don’t think they’re funny, and nobody else thinks they’re jokes. The next time you need legal aid or advice, do you call a lawyer or a comedian?”

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