Is there anything that television can’t teach us? Well… yeah there is plenty but let’s focus on the positives. Lawyers have been the butt of television jokes for years – the stereotype of a sleazy, underhanded fellow in a cheap suit is alive and well on the tube.
Despite their lack of ethics and, in some cases, formal training a few of their key soundbites can instill a life-long lesson in those willing to listen. And the MyCorp Social Media team is always willing to listen to TV.
So, whether you’re a budding entrepreneur, a mid-level manager, a prisoner to your cubicle, or something else entirely, here are a few good tips from four bad lawyers.
When one of Springfield’s favorite small business owners, Moe Syzlak, steals a cocktail that Homer had invented and is suddenly flushed with success, Homer is left wondering what possible recourse is left open to him. So Homer pays a visit to his lawyer Lionel Hutz, who unfortunately gives him a bit of bad news.
Marge: So, Mr. Hutz, does my husband have a case?
Hutz: I’m sorry, Mrs. Simpson, but you can’t copyright a drink.
Homer: [whines] Oh!
Hutz: This all goes back to the Frank Wallbanger case of ’78. How about that! I looked something up! These books behind me don’t just make the office look good, they’re filled with useful legal tidbits just like that!
He didn’t know something, and used the resources available to him to find an answer! Amazing, right? While there is nothing wrong with asking for help, there are plenty of people who are afraid to do any research themselves. You should always try and educate yourself on matters of importance, even if you are going to seek out a professional, because it puts you in a better position to ask the right questions. So expand your knowledge, just like good old Mr. Hutz.
Richard Fish… from Ally McBeal (in case you don’t remember that one)
Richard Fish was a bit of a standout character because, in true ’90s fashion, he said things with no other purpose than to shock and awe the audience. While people remembered him, and he apparently found some success in the field of law, it is hard to understand how he possibly did so well. In one of his more poignant moments, he goes into what drew him to law:
Fish: “I didn’t become a lawyer because I like the law. The law sucks. It’s boring. But it can also be used as a weapon. You want to bankrupt somebody, cost him everything he’s worked for, make his wife leave him, even cause his kids to cry? We can do that.”
A little sociopathic, sure, but what is important is that he found joy in his work, even if he was never really attracted to it in the first place. Finding that bit of motivation helps a job from becoming stale and tedious. That little nugget may not be obvious, but it is worth unearthing.
A lawyer, a criminal, a criminal-lawyer. In the series Breaking Bad, Saul is actually a fairly competent lawyer, he’s just a sleazy person. But it’s from that sleaziness that his prowess in court shines through, as he explains:
Goodman: “If you’re committed enough, you can make any story work. I once told a woman I was Kevin Costner, and it worked because I believed it.”
‘Believe in yourself’ is an ancient mantra that teachers and parents have chucked at us for years. It sort of loses its meaning after a while, but there is a lot of wisdom behind it. When you hold yourself in a certain way, exude a certain mood, people pick up on it. Be confident in yourself and what you do, or risk losing the confidence of others.
Barry Zuckerkorn is a bad lawyer, full stop. There really is no mincing words about the man’s talent. But he does show some common sense in Arrested Development‘s first season:
Barry: “Sorry, sorry, sorry I’m so late. I had another hearing. Here’s the good news: I think I’m going to get off, huh? I have a good lawyer.”
If there is one piece of advice we can leave you with, it’s know the name of a good lawyer. They are a lot like insurance – you don’t want to be caught in a situation where you need one, but don’t have one.
Be prepared, find joy in your work, believe in yourself, and know the name of a great lawyer. Four great pieces of advice, from four not so great attorneys.