These two lawyers go into the Bar…

 In Georgia State Bar Grievances

Some holiday fun with an ethical and educational twist.

Whether you’re winding down for the holiday season, or else scrambling to get contracts and deals completed prior to year-end, I thought this would be a great opportunity to keep things light and add a little humor to the year’s end. Below are some of my favorite lawyer jokes, but with an educational twist. I linked each joke to a GA Bar Rule or other important ethical guideline. Who said education can’t be fun?

Humor with a side order of legal ethics

If you’re the type of person who doesn’t like lawyer jokes, you may want to skip this article. Please note that links to applicable Bar Rules are located at the end of the article.

LaughingQ: What do you call a smiling, courteous person at a Bar association gathering?
A: The caterer.
While you’re attending those holiday engagements with friends and peers, remember to keep communication limited to social topics if possible. If you do decide to talk about work, keep the discussion generic so you don’t violate GA Bar Rule 1.6 Confidentiality of Information.

Did you hear about the lawyer who was hurt in an accident? The ambulance he was chasing stopped too suddenly.
GA Bar Rule 7.3(c) Direct Contact with Prospective Clients was recently updated to better define and penalize the illegal practice known as “running” – paying a non-lawyer to solicit business for a law firm or health care provider. Don’t do it. Period.

What do you get when you cross a godfather with a lawyer? An offer you can’t understand.
While we often use more technical legal jargon with peers, Rule 1.4 Communication requires client communication to be at a level where clients can participate intelligently and give their “informed consent” in key decisions. If not, the Bar Investigative Panel might make you an offer you can’t refuse.

Old lawyers never die, they just lose their appeal.
As we gain maturity in our profession (get older), we need to remember that Rule 1.1 Competence requires us to maintain our legal knowledge and skill. The ABA’s version of Rule 1.1 also addresses technological competence. Finally, when you decide to retire and sell your practice, don’t forget to review Rule 1.17 Sale of a Law Practice.

A group of terrorists burst into a Bar Association meeting and took 100 lawyers hostage. The terrorist leader announced that unless their demands were met, they would release one lawyer every hour.
I’m often asked if lawyers can keep files “hostage” when clients request that files be returned, especially if clients owe money. Holding a file hostage violates Rule 1.16(d) Declining or Terminating Representation. Formal Advisory Opinion 87-5 further states that an attorney cannot withhold files to secure payment, and FAO 96-1 states that before returning files an attorney can’t require a client to sign a release of claims by the client against the attorney.

A lawyer died and went to Heaven. “There must be some mistake,” the lawyer argued. “I’m too young to die. I’m only 55.” “55?” asked Saint Peter. “According to our calculations, you’re 82.” “How’d you get that?” the lawyer asked. St. Peter answered, “We added up your time sheets.”
Rule 1.5 Fees requires us to charge reasonable fees, and the action above could also fall under Rule 8.4 Misconduct as it relates to dishonesty, misrepresentation, deceit, and potentially fraud.

A woman and her daughter were visiting the grave of the little girl’s grandmother when the little girl asked, “Mommy, do they ever bury two people in the same grave?” “Of course not, dear,” answered the mother, “Why would you think that?” The daughter replied, “The tombstone back there said ‘Here lies a lawyer and an honest man.'”
A recent update to Bar Rule 7.2 Advertising requires lawyer advertising to include the physical location of the principal office, or, if there is no office, the address listed with the GA Bar.

The lawyer who pleads their own case may have a fool for a client, but at least there will be no problem with fee-splitting.
Similar to the reason your clients seek your assistance in legal matters, when you’re dealing with GA State Bar disciplinary matters it’s always a good idea to seek independent advice from someone with specific experience in these matters.Not doing so early could lead to more extensive problems later.

A lawyer was filling out a job application when he came to the question, “Have you ever been arrested?” He answered, “No.” The next question, intended for applicants who had answered, “Yes,” was “Why?” The lawyer answered it, “Never got caught.”
Admit your mistakes, take responsibility, and work with your clients to resolve any potential issues. This is one of Chandler’s Top 10 Tips that I review with participants at my legal ethics and professional liability seminars. In doing so, don’t forget to seek guidance and input from your malpractice insurance carrier.

Q: What’s the problem with lawyer jokes?
A: Lawyer’s don’t think they’re funny, and no one else thinks they’re jokes.
We all love to communicate – we’re lawyers after all. Remember that Rule 1.16 Declining or Terminating Representation provides guidelines for giving adequate notice and protecting client interests. Make it your 2015 policy to improve all client communications. “Early and often” is the best guideline.

If you can’t laugh at yourself…

Hopefully these funny anecdotes reminded you of some of the core ethical principles of our profession. If they made you chuckle along the way, that’s even better.

Have a happy and safe holiday season!

Douglas Chandler

Here are links to all of the GA Bar Rules mentioned in this article:

Join Douglas’ LinkedIn group: Attorney Ethics and Professional Liability.

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