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I was reading a novel and the author wrote about a precocious child that “the boy was destined to be either a brilliant scientist or an irritating attorney.” At first I chuckled, but then I realized that–although the novel is an exploration of racial stereotypes in LA–the author was blithely stereotyping lawyers, for a cheap laugh. Should we tell our offspring to be what we have become, or to run fast toward a more well-regarded profession?

Q: I was reading a novel and the author wrote about a precocious child that “the boy
was destined to be either a brilliant scientist or an irritating attorney.” At first I chuckled, but then I realized that–although the novel is an exploration of racial stereotypes in LA–the author was blithely stereotyping lawyers, for a cheap laugh. Should we tell our offspring to be what we have become, or to run fast toward a more well-regarded profession?

A: Your question reminds me of an old cigarette commercial…and my answer is that I would rather fight than switch. The law is as honorable a profession as others, even if the media and some lawyers themselves have made us an easy target for the type of treatment you note. I want people to encourage their children to consider the law, and I want law schools to better prepare their students to get jobs and to do them well. We already teach ethics, but the intangibles of professionalism can be better imparted during law school, after which each of us has a role to play in mentoring and modeling the newest members of our craft to comport in respectful and respectable ways.

Let’s kill all (or as many as possible) of the lawyer jokes, one at a time. I’m glad you asked a question about the one that troubled you.