The archetype of the sleazy law firm in fiction, the origins of Dewey Cheatem & Howe are murky. Most commentators credit the Three Stooges (although Car Talk on NPR used the joke extensively).
Since then, it has become a popular punchline and professional shorthand to describe unscrupulous lawyers and firms. The firm underwent a resurgence when venerated Wall Street firm Dewey & LeBoeuf went bust (see “Dewey’s Judgment Day,” February 2015, page 36), resulting in all sorts of “Dewey Cheatem”-related puns from the media.
Attribution: Caption by Victor Li, photo by Vintage Images/Getty Images.