Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
Believe it or not, I used to wonder why people got such a kick out of lawyer jokes. It's not that I didn't think the jokes were funny. But I couldn't help notice the underlying nastiness and wonder, "Gee, why do people hate lawyers so much?"
This was some 20 years ago, long before I'd ever encountered a lawyer in a legal setting. For the past 10 years or so, my wife and I have lived under a legal cloud that, had lawyers and judges performed their duties lawfully, would have dissolved in about eight months.
The fallout from that experience continues, and I've come to fully understand why Americans hate lawyers. In fact, I now find myself thinking, "It's amazing we don't read more stories with headlines like, 'Lawyer's Carcass Found Floating in River, Former Clients Celebrate.'"
As a public service, we are starting a series of posts that will provide insight on why lawyers are among the most despised creatures in our society--ranking somewhere below debt collectors and barely above cockroaches. These posts will draw on personal experiences, supported by documents from our various legal entanglements.
Our goal is to show you how real lawyers think and behave. We will present evidence, straight from the legal front line, of lawyers acting unethically, perhaps unlawfully, and with little regard for justice or simple matters of right and wrong. In short, we will show you lawyers who seem to act without a functioning conscience.
We certainly do not think all lawyers are awful people. We actually know some who are honorable. In fact, such lawyers--Don Siegelman, Paul Minor, Wes Teel--have been central characters in many of our posts, as victims of bad apples in their own profession. Some noble lawyers--Jill Simpson, Scott Horton, Andrew Kreig--have been consistent sources of insight and inspiration for this blog.
I was not predisposed to dislike lawyers. Heck, my youngest brother is a lawyer--in a state other than Alabama--and I've always thought of him as an upstanding guy.
But the experiences my wife and I have had with lawyers in the court setting--those on the opposing side and those supposedly working for us--have been uniformly dreadful. And to talk with lawyers about the details of a potential case is one of life's most nauseating experiences. I would rather have a prostatectomy without anesthesia--performed by the Village People (to borrow a line from the late, great Johnny Carson)--than have to go through that again. That might explain why I'm now representing myself, acting pro se as they say in the legal world.
After several discussions with lawyers about various legal issues, I can remember telling Mrs. Schnauzer, "That was the worst one yet, the most deceitful and oily lawyer ever." Invariably, someone comes along to top him or her.
"Every time I talk to a lawyer about our case, I feel a part of my soul dying," I once told the missus.
"Well then, don't talk to any more of them," she said. That was good advice, and I've taken it to heart.
But I want to share some of our experiences, so Legal Schnauzer readers might know what to expect should they ever find themselves in close proximity, in an official sense, with "counsel."
I can think of no better way to start a series of posts about lawyer horror stories than with our old friend William E. Swatek. He puts sleaze in the word sleazeball, dirt in the word dirtbag, scum in the word scumsucker . . . well, you get the idea.