LOWERING THE BAR
Lawyer jokes and legal culture
Marc Galanter 430pp. | University of Wisconsin Press. $45; distributed in the UK by Eurospan. £32.95. | 0 299 21350 1
It’s obvious that many U.S. lawyer jokes aren’t specifically about the law, and Galanter apparently sets about researching their origins. Details from an article in the TLS:
bq. A certain sharpening in the jokes about lawyers came about when the profession
introduced hourly billing, from the 1960s onwards. Many of us will remember a billing joke, more than a century old, about the lawyer who demanded a fee For waking up in the night and thinking about your case, $5, later capped by the tale of a rival who charged For crossing the street to talk to you, then discovering it wasnt you at all, $125. Galanter says that Billing for thinking about the client while showering or engaging in other grooming activities is encouraged by many firms.
Are there any German lawyer jokes? I think not. Lawyers are respected (although Galanter says the large number of jokes about lawyers also indicate a kind of respect). The topic is touched on in relation to the Netherlands:
bq. If this book is right, there are no lawyer jokes in Holland. In civil law countries, the author explains, with their smaller number of lawyers and larger contingents of judges, lawyers do not seem to play an important part in the public imagination. In the Netherlands they lack social influence. A Dutch sociologist is quoted as saying, No need for jokes. The Dutch couldnt care less.
(Thanks very much to Isabella)