Yes, I’m sure there is more than one, but this gentleman was brought to my attention. In the off chance that even one single misguided reader might think, “hey – this is the lawyer for me!” I’m refusing to post any links to his website. Or even use his name. For the greater good.
This line is included in his bio:
<He Who Shall Not Be Named> gives all his heart, sweat and often sheds his own blood in resolving cases…
It really says that. What does that even mean? Is he an emotional cutter? Does he participate in Fight Club on your behalf? Is he talking about paper cuts?? Sigh. Alas, we may never know.
His website, however, is full of details of his big-ticket court victories and a profile picture that looks like it was intended for e-Harmony. Or a Caesar’s Palace poster in Las Vegas lauding his magic act. And why did his name even come up? Because he is the first lawyer hired on in a high-profile, genuinely tragic case that will spawn an ocean of litigation. With this guy leading the charge. Hopefully bleeding all over the place.
So, the connoisseur of poor decision-making thing. People continually seem to get a chuckle out of that line. But a connoisseur? Really? Since I’m a fan of dictionaries (and had to look it up anyway to see if I’d spelled it correctly), here you go:
con·nois·seurˌkänəˈsər,-ˈso͝or/noun: a person who knows a lot about something: an expert in a particular subject
- 2008 – Deciding to go to law school at 36. Point of fact, I love my job, but that is because of the people I work with and not the whole “being an attorney” thing. It’s not bad, but it will definitely not hold up to a cost-benefit analysis…or a return-on-investment analysis…or even a pro-con analysis. Oddly, this also seemed like a good idea at the time.
- 2008 – Taking off my diamond rings on a beach in Mexico to apply sunscreen.
- 2001 – Quitting Intel. But, who knows, if I’d stayed, perhaps not quitting Intel would be on the list. But if it were on the list, No. 2 would not be. Dizzying logic.
- 2008 – (2008 was apparently a busy year) IM’ing a co-worker to speculate as to whether our boss looked pregnant…without being certain I wasn’t accidentally IM’ing my boss instead. Thankfully she was, in fact, pregnant. And she didn’t fire me.
- 1991 – Quitting my job and moving to Utah. Yes, Utah (where I had no family, friends or job). Still scratching my head over this one.
- 1988 – Bangs. I had curly hair. That was never going to end well.
- 2000 – Thinking ‘go big or go home’ applied to tattoos.
- 2002 – The series of events that led to me almost being arrested on Bourbon Street in New Orleans.
- 1991 – Jumping off that bridge over the river because, damn it, if my guy buddies could do it, so could I. No, I don’t recall which bridge…but it was high enough that you had to hide if the cops drove by because, surprisingly, you weren’t supposed to jump from it. My (painful yet) superficial injuries from this brilliantly ill-conceived move did not require medical attention, but a kick in the ass may have been warranted.
Honorable mention goes to the dozens of times I have stuck my nose where it didn’t belong, overshared at parties, and failed to keep my mouth shut when wisdom, logic, or propriety called for it.
This is just a small sampling. And no, I don’t obsessively catalogue and record all of my mistakes for future reflection. My OCD takes care of that for me.
I was an English major before law school, but law school definitely did its damnedest to instill terrible, lawyerly habits in me that would have seriously pissed off my English professors. And, yes, I’m going to limit this to just five.
jar·gon (ˈjärgən/)noun: jargon; plural noun: jargons1.special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand.
Yeah, I’m not sure I even need to elaborate on that. Thanks, Google, for that most-perfect definition.
4. The Damn Latin.
I belong to the only profession that didn’t get the memo that Latin was a dead language. And we use it, too. Granted, I myself don’t really know enough to be obnoxious with it, but you would be amazed by the number of briefs I read where other attorneys have expertly woven it into their prose which, ipso facto, is annoying. (More annoying when I have to return to said Google to look up a word. Except quid pro quo, which, thanks to Dr. Hannibal Lecter, I know by heart.)
I challenge anyone to come up with one other profession as skilled at using 30 words when five would do. What is funny is that law school actually does attempt to teach you not to do this. Yet, when you combine overly cautious construction and a healthy dose of CYA? Voila. Legal prose.
However, in defense of lawyers (that may possibly be the first time in history that phrase has been written), every five words superfluously added to a contract were only added after someone sued and won because they weren’t there.
2. Awkwardly Proper Grammar.
When I’m home at the end of the day, there is definitely a release when I turn back to my novel (or my blog) because I can do what I want. I can use all the sentence fragments and dangling participles I want and no one can tell me I’m wrong because it’s style, and “in which” can go straight to hell. (i.e. this is the blog in which I rant about stupid crap.)
1. Double Negatives.
I saved this for last because it’s my favorite. As an English major, double negatives are a no-no. In legal writing? They’re freaking everywhere. Because, God forbid, you tell someone they’re right…only that they’re not wrong. Do you know how many times I have read a court opinion where the court says that “Plaintiff is not incorrect” in his argument? (Really, Judge? He’s not correct? No, no no. He’s just not incorrect.) Yes, I understand that it is driven by rhetoric and not flawed grammar, but still. You’re not fooling anyone. If you’re not wrong, by definition, you are right. Right? I’ll agree with its usage in situations such as, “he’s not unattractive” or “she’s not an idiot”…because those are sliding scales. Not being unattractive does not make you Chris Hemsworth and not being an idiot does not make you Stephen Hawking.
I’d like to give an honorable mention to Passive Aggressive Writing. I didn’t put it on the list because I’m a fan. Genuinely. Telling someone that “I’m curious as to the source of your conclusions” when I’m actually suggesting they’re an idiot who didn’t do their homework is occasionally the highlight of my day.