Lawyers, who often defend people or practices that are considered unpopular or wrong (or justify draconian laws in the case of prosecutors), are an infamous Acceptable Target
. Note that this refers to an explicit or implicit suggestion that all or most lawyers are evil, by:
- A character making a joke about lawyers being evil, or
- giving lawyers Animal Motifs that classify them as evil.
The word Satan
can be translated as "accuser/prosecutor", which might have helped inspire the Occult Law Firm
Tends to be associated with America (especially in The Nineties
) although it's a global trope to some extent.
One reason lawyers make such Acceptable Targets
may be that people generally only interact with them directly at difficult times in their lives (when facing criminal sanction, civil suits, or the complexity of land laws when buying a house), meaning individuals are not associated with the good parts of the legal system, like public order and good lawmaking.
See also Ambulance Chaser
and Amoral Attorney
, for the evil lawyers themselves.
Lawyer jokes are actually fairly common in the profession, for the obvious reasons
. But anyone
who uses them should remember one thing: Nobody likes lawyers until they actually need one.
For actual lawyer jokes, see the quotes page.
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- Used frequently regarding Steve Dallas in Bloom County. In one of the collections, Breathed remarked about how frequently lawyers would respond positively (often asking to buy a print) to the jokes.
- Pearls Before Swine does this every once in awhile, considering the cartoonist is an ex-lawyer.
- "I heard you used to be a lawyer. Do you ever miss those days?". Cue hysterical laughter.
- In The Sandman, one minor character makes the "not enough catshit" joke.
- In Top 10, the lawyer Larry "Frenzy" Fischmann is an anthropomorphic shark. One character insults him, saying that his people haven't evolved in millions of years. Frenzy takes offense, saying that's a common misconception about sharks. The guy wasn't talking about sharks.
Films — Animated
- From Bee Movie:
Cow: You're a lawyer?
Mosquito: Ma'am, I was already a blood-sucking parasite. I just needed a suitcase.
- The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad gives us Cyril Proudbottom's epic slam against the crown prosecutor, when asked how Toad got the motorcar:
Cyril: The only way a gentleman gets anything: the honest way.
Prosecutor: And WHAT IS the honest way?
Cyril: HAHA! I THOUGHT you wouldn't know that one, guv'na!
- Cousin Mel's lawyer from Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer goes by I. M. Slime.
Jake: You said it, not me.
Films — Live-Action
- Back to the Future Part II: "The justice system works swiftly in the future now that they've abolished all lawyers."
- Note that Doc does not necessarily say that as good news. Considering the context of the line it's more likely that no lawyers mean no protection from the State Sec.
- Blade II has Blade meet a representative of his enemies, and sees he's got the mark of a Familiar, starting this exchange.
Blade: You're human.
Man: Barely. I'm a lawyer.
- From Hook:
"I hear scientists are replacing their lab rats with lawyers. One, the scientists were starting to get attached to the rats. And two, there are some things even rats won't do."
- We also get this exchange:
Ruffio: We kill pirates.
Peter Banning: I'm not a pirate. It so happens I am a lawyer.
Rufio: Kill the lawyer!
Peter Banning: I'm not that kind of lawyer!
- From Liar Liar:
Max Reede: My dad? He's... a liar.
Teacher: A liar? I'm sure you don't mean a liar.
Max Reede: Well, he wears a suit and goes to court and talks to the judge.
Teacher: Oh, you mean he's a lawyer.
- The kid then shrugs indifferently.
- A Murder Of Crows is a subversion, since the hero is a (mostly) heroic lawyer, who matches wits with a serial killer who goes after lawyers because of this trope. The reason was that his son was killed by a drunk driver, but the driver's lawyer got him off on a technicality... and when they walked out of court, he could tell that the killer was repentant, genuinely sorry about the damage he'd caused... but the lawyer was smiling. He had won.
- During a song in Muppet Treasure Island, a pirate sings, "I could've been a lawyer, but I just had too much heart."
- Osmosis Jones: "We'll go down to the haemorrhoids and get you a good lawyer."
- In the western-spoof Rustlers Rhapsody, good-guy gunfighter Rex O'Herlihan faces off against good-guy gunfighter and lawyer Bob Barber. When Barber shoots O'Herlihan in the arm (rather than shooting the gun out of O'Herlihan's hand, as good guys are supposed to do), O'Herlihan's shocked that Barber isn't really a good guy. Barber's response: "I'm a lawyer, you idiot!"
- Pool Hall Junkies: Uncle Mike's introduction in the film has him walking out onto a balcony and telling an Evil Lawyer Joke (while at a party where almost everybody attending happens to work for the same law firm, including Uncle Mike.)
- A rather dark version of this trope happens in the 2001 HBO / BBC movie Conspiracy, about the Wannsee Conference where the Holocaust was planned. Stuckart, a lawyer representing the Interior Ministry, starts objecting to the proposed "evacuation" of millions of Jews because it violates the Nuremberg Laws.
Dr. Gerhard Klopfer: We make the law we need!
Why am I telling you this? How many lawyers are in this room? Raise your hand. (half the room put their hands up, including Klopfer)
Oh Jesus Christ, it's worse than I thought.
- In Angel Heart, Louis/Lucifer jokes that "one less attorney" in the world doesn't really matter, even though there has been nothing to suggest that Winesap is corrupt or evil in any way ( or knew who his client really was), and the fact that he had a "nasty accident" suggests that he wouldn't have gone along with his client's plan and needed to be silenced.
- During the discussion over dinner in Jurassic Park, Grant, Ellie, and Malcolm argue against Hammond's plans for the park. He laments that the only one to side with him is the "bloodsucking lawyer" (Genarro), who's only concerned in the potential profits.
- The spoof movie The Silence Of The Hams had a gag in the part parodying The Silence of the Lambs where the protagonist is walking through the prison of mentally insane criminals — he walks past a bunch of maniacal, howling lawyers standing in a pit, with a warning sign reading "Don't feed the lawyers".
- In a British musical version of Charles Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop aka Mr. Quilp, in the number "When a felon needs a friend", Brasses and Quilp praise the profession of a lawyer and its advantages before Richard Swiveller.
...For he'll rob the rich and poor with equal grace
And while lying in his tooth
He would sometimes tell the truth
It's amazing what will do to win a case!
- In the Veronica Mars movie, Veronica uses the existence of this trope as proof that Private Detectives are more respected than lawyers.
Veronica: Tell me one Private Detective Joke...
- This exchange from The General's Daughter:
Colonel Robert Moore: Then wouldn't it behoove me to retain the services of an attorney? I know a good one.
Warrant Officer Paul Brenner, C.I.D.: Two problems there. First the obvious: there are no good ones. Second, you're not a civilian, Colonel, you're in the army. You have no rights to an attorney. You have no right to remain silent. And if you don't cooperate I may have to put you in jail and that would make me feel really bad.
- In I Love You Phillip Morris, Steven tells one of these to the receptionist. She finds it funny, and the joke is quickly told to anyone and everyone in the firm, with plenty of variations, including a nasty anti-Semitic one.
- In The Legend of Total Drama Island, a school of sharks won't harm Courtney out of "professional courtesy" because she plans to be a lawyer when she grows up.
- In Kitsune no Ken: Fist of the Fox, Orochimaru—who's a lawyer in this story's continuity—complains that he's going to be on the receiving end of these after he manages to get Dosu, Zaku and Kin (members of Mizuki's gang) out on bail.
- What's the difference between a lawyer and a trampoline? Answer
- How many Rottweilers does it take to rip a lawyer limb from limb? Answer
- A man is driving down the road and sees a hitchhiking priest, so he stops to pick him up. A little while later he sees a hitchhiking lawyer, and attempts to run him over with his car. At the last second he remembers the holy man in the car with him and swerves to avoid hitting the lawyer. The man gasps "Oh my God, that was close! I almost hit that lawyer!", trying to play it off like it was an accident. The priest says "Don't worry, my son. I got him with my door."
- In Smallville
Jailed meteor freak: You're not a lawyer.
Tess's minion: I'll take that as a compliment.
- In The Mentalist, one Victim of the Week, a lawyer, is killed when his speedboat is destroyed in an explosion. Lisbon and Jane, who were already on the scene when the bomb went off, rush over, only to see the man's severed arm suddenly get tugged underwater by what is almost certainly a shark.
Jane: So much for professional courtesy.
- In Angel, Cordelia discusses the evil law firm Wolfram and Hart, comparing them with vampires Angel and Darla. "You were soulless bloodsucking demons, and they're lawyers." A humbled Angel agrees with her. "We were amateurs."
- More from Angel, this season one gem as said by Gunn: "Whoo! Whoo! My God! They told me it was true, but I didn't believe em. Damn. Here it is! Evil white folks really do have a Mecca." Let's just say that Wolfram & Hart take evil lawyers to a whole 'nother level.
- "They're the law firm Johnny Cochran was too ethical to join." Really, Wolfram & Hart is the personification of the Evil Lawyer Joke.
- In the Charmed episode "Black As Cole" (episode 8 season 4), when Paige learns about Cole's past she says:
Paige: So you were a demon and a lawyer? Insert joke here!
- A lawyer in CSI: New York makes one himself: "What do you call a thousand dead lawyers? A good start."
- Similarly, in the Law & Order episode "Savior," defense attorney Margot Bell says, "What does a lawyer have in common with a sperm cell?" ADA Claire Kincaid replies, "Both have a one-in-a-million chance of becoming a human being," then tells Margot there's a law that once you pass the bar, you have to stop telling lawyer jokes.
- From a Rowan Atkinson sketch, "Welcome to Hell":
The Devil: Now murderers...murderers over here, please. Thank you. Looters and pillagers over here. Thieves if you could join them and lawyers, you're in that lot.
- Boardwalk Empire's resident Amoral Attorney Bill Fallon is the butt of an excellent one from his client, Arnold Rothstein:
Fallon: (impressed by Rothstein's skill at lying) It's not too late to go to law school, Arnold.
- Sebastian Stark is nicknamed Shark.
- In an episode of the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids series, it's revealed that Wayne keeps embarrassing Diane every time they go to her law firm's picnics together since he keeps making these jokes.
- Modern Family: When Mitchell and Cameron are staying at Jay's house because theirs is being fumigated, Jay leaves a book of lawyer jokes in the guest bedroom to irritate Mitchell. He cracks these kind of jokes throughout the episode, including "What's the difference between a catfish and a lawyer?"note
- In the last episode of season 1 of Las Vegas, Ed Deline says to a group of lawyers that it might seems strange to them to try to do the right thing for once.
- Community gives lawyers a very negative portrayal. The main character Jeff is a former lawyer who got fired for faking his Bachelor's. In one episode, his old colleague Allan says that at his firm, they call someone like that the best lawyer ever. In another, Allan reveals to Jeff that he was the one who got him fired, and Jeff replies: "I know. And I never got the chance to say thank you."
- The lawyers encountered in Frasier are all of varying degrees of amoral and vicious.
- The lawyers in Niles' and Maris' divorce are only interested in stringing it out for months and months so as to milk two rich people for money.
- Donny Douglas is an attack lawyer par excellence who forces Maris' side to fold and wins a handsome settlement for Niles. After the humiliation of his "wedding day" to Daphne, he seeks to savage the Cranes for everything.
- The lady lawyer who deals with Niles' divorce from Mel wins the case and ends up dating Frasier: Frasier notices she puts him on the meter for legal charges, even when she is a guest at a Crane celebration dinner...
- In The Golden Girls, Sophia is having a near-death-experience where she's in Heaven:
Angel: Just make yourself comfortable. I'm really anxious to meet this next guy. He's a lawyer.
Sophia: Why is that special?
Angel: He's the first one we've had here!
- Stephen Fry on QI:
"What do lawyers and sperm have in common? One in fifty million have a chance to become a human being."
- Tool's song "The Pot" says: Liar, lawyer, mirror, show me. What's the difference?.
- Tom Waits, "God's Away on Business":
Who are the ones that we kept in charge?
Killers, thieves, and lawyers!
- The Capitol Steps' song "'Atsa Lawyer".
Nothing else looks as good
As a Doberman would
On a lawyer!
- The protagonist of Warren Zevon's "Mister Bad Example"
Of course, I went to law school
And took a law degree
And counseled all my clients to plead insanity
- WeirdAlYankovic's Jurassic Park
A huge tyrannosaurus ate our lawyer
Well, I suppose that proves
They're really not all bad
- In this poem, Taylor Mali knows that there are so many evil lawyer jokes out there that he just lets listeners fill in the blanks for themselves:
I bite my tongue, instead of his, and resist the urge to remind the other dinner guests that it's also true what they say about lawyers—because we're eating, after all, and this is supposed to be polite conversation.
- "The Saruman Blues" from The Unfinished Spelling Errors Of Bolkien has the line "I've got this guy called Grima, he's a slimy troublemaker, more disturbing than a lawyer who's a part-time undertaker."
- The Munchkin Card Game has several lawyer monsters, including So Suu Mee — the Chinese lawyer demon.
- And they won't attack Thieves. It's a professional courtesy.
- The Munchkin Booty "Sea Lawyer" even counts as a shark.
- In the Munchkin RPG, Lawyers are Lawful Evil monsters. Their Chaotic Evil arch-enemies are Insurance Salesmen.
- In the Collectible Card Game version of Illuminati, there is a card referencing William Shakespeare, (see below) called "First thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers" which destroys all law cards in play. In order to use it the player must say "Now seriously, Lawyers are an important part of our judicial system and we'd all be worse off without them." The card notes that the player has to try to say it with a straight face, but is not expected to succeed.
- Older Than Steam: William Shakespeare's famous "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." He made several other jabs at lawyers in his works, but the line from Henry VI Part 2 is the most famous and well known. (Lawyers are quick to point out that's part of a plan to create anarchy and tyranny in revolution.)
- There's a song about this in Legally Blonde The Musical: "Blood in the Water"
- One of John Adams' first lines in 1776: "I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace; that two are called a law firm, and that three or more become a Congress!"
- A touch of Hypocritical Humor on his part, since he was a lawyer.
- Who would go on to serve in Congress, sort of, as the presiding officer of the Senate (i.e. the vice president)
- Later, Adams got into a shouting match with John Dickenson:
John Adams: You cool, considerate men. You hang to the rear on every issue so that if we should go under, you'll still remain afloat!
John Dickinson: Are you calling me a coward?
John Adams: Yes... coward!
John Dickinson: Madman!
John Adams: Landlord!
John Dickinson: LAWYER!
[a brawl breaks out]
- In the intro to Bully, Jimmy describes "corporate lawyers" among the despicable alumni of Bulworth Academy, right after arms dealers and serial killers.
- Earthworm Jim had a LOT of fun with lawyer jokes. Notably, they're reoccurring enemies in "What the Heck?" in the first game.
- Guybrush Threepwood does a whole string of these in Escape from Monkey Island when he travels to Lucre Island to consult the Marley family lawyers. Of course, none of the lawyers actually gets the jokes...
Guybrush: Why don't sharks eat lawyers?note
Confused Lawyer #1: But sharks eat lawyers all the time!
Confused Lawyer #2: Once they've signed all the right corpus delecti waivers...
- As the resident lawyer in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Phoenix Wright is often a target of these from other characters. The other Phoenix, Jean Grey, is just one few to poke fun at him, then there's this lovely quote from Ghost Rider...
"Do you have any idea how many lawyers are in hell?"
- In Scribblenauts, there is a level where you have to get bad guys up from hell to heaven. One of them's a lawyer.
- In Scribblenauts Unlimited, the Starite shard "Liar Liar Pants On Fire", awarded for placing two people who never tell the truth next to each other, can be earned by spawning two lawyers in close proximity. Getting another shard, in the Saurus Park level, involves putting something that sucks blood in a chunk of amber, and a lawyer works just fine.
- Phoenix Wright's protegé, Apollo Justice, has a go at himself with these occasionally..
"I'm a lawyer. I live for needless procedures."
- In Miles Edgeworth Investigations, one case starts with Edgeworth accused of murder. To try to calm everyone down, he assures them that he is not the murderer, but is instead a prosecutor. Everyone remains just as convinced he murdered someone.
- In Grim Fandango, when you're trying convince slimy lawyer Nick Virago to help spring your friend from prison, he leads you into stoking his ego by asking if you want a good lawyer or the best. One of your reply options is "Well, logically, the best lawyer would be a dead one", which causes him to caustically point out that that includes every single attorney in the land of the dead.
- In the manual of every Legend Entertainment game where was a lawyer joke inserted into the licence agreement. These jokes were almost never repeated from game to game.
- Sleazy Lawyers from Clicking Bad, who are so oily they eventually become supervillains.
- In the world of All Over The House, lawyers are Satan-proof because they have no souls.
- Bug in the strip called "Sympathy for the Devil":
- In a Checkerboard Nightmare strip, Lyle's lawyer firm superiors decide to punish him for a recent failing by locking him in a room and lower the temperature until...he puts his hands in his pockets. Despite Lyle pointing out that that's just a lawyer joke, said superiors persist.
- In Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures the most evil and feared monster in all of Furrae is possibly Moira Gianna: Attorney at Law.
- Dominic Deegan lampshades it here.
- The final panel of this Everyday Heroes is an extended evil lawyer joke, half of which is spoken by a lawyer.
- Exterminatus Now, as shown here. Apparently, the Inquisition laywers are a snake, a vulture, and a hyena.
- Freefall has a few, such as this one.
- Get Medieval has a Running Gag along these lines:
See, I used to be a lawyer in Narbonne...
And then you decided you'd rather go to heaven?
- Impure Blood has the level two of the prison, for gladiators, murderers, thieves, rapists and lawyers.
- In the Kevin & Kell universe, most — if not all — lawyers are, in fact, sharks, leading to frequent jokes... for example, when Herd Thinners Inc. is flooded (due to drooling resulting from having an injured rabbit on the premises), Angelique comments that it's not a total loss — now their legal staff can work on-site.
- Narbonic: After Mell falls from heavens: "Holy cheese, do they need lawyers up there!"
- Precocious: Candy enjoys making these jokes about herself, in her second appearance alone she claimed she works best without a soul. Another time her wife (who was smoking something hand-rolled) claimed that she breaks more laws daily than she does.
- Schlock Mercenary has an entire Hive Mind of snake-like lawyers. There's a standing bounty on them so the crew kill them at every opportunity.
Narrator: Okay, so they are all lawers. Right now you are supposed to be feeling sorry for the heroic, human one...
- Best summarised during Massey's first appearance, when the Partnership Collective attempted to link him to their Hive Mind.
: Ohhhh...it's full of stars. Snake
: Must have pulled the wrong switch. [Amends this] Massey
: AAAIEEE! It's full of lawyers!
- Note Massey himself is a lawyer who subverts any and all Evil Lawyer tropes; so much so that occasionally he has to use lawyer-speak when talking to his employer to hide the fact that moral concerns are the real reason he thinks the current plan is a bad idea.
Tagon: ...Attorneys do it all the time.
Breya: Then it's probably unethical or immoral.
- Sinfest has lawyers in hell... this is instantly lampshaded by Slick.
- Sluggy Freelance had various running gags involving lawyers in the early years that only rarely show up now.
- Used in AH.com: The Series, "Heart of Steel", in a flashback — upon hearing that the new crewmember is a lawyer, the two American crewmembers are reflexively thrown into a psychotic rage.
- In Pact, Blake is discussing summoning help.
- When Mack from Tales of MU has to visit her lawyer, Lee Jenkins, in his office, and discovers the elevator warded against infernal entry, this comes into play in the form of a joke regarding how long a law firm could last if infernal beings weren't permitted to enter its offices.
- Inverted in Ink City when Cave Johnson meets Edgeworth and automatically punches him upon hearing his profession. The whole reason he considers lawyers Acceptable Targets is because they try to regulate his Mad Science, imposing unwanted morals and values upon his work.
- Whateley Universe has Jadis' lawyer, who works for a super-villain. In a minor subversion, he's basically helping the good guys, if only because Jadis tends to get wrongfully accused. A LOT!
- In The Salvation War, God gets sued by the State of Louisiana because of the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, since it was an "Act of God". Michael suggests taking them into court, but points out that most of the lawyers that are not alive are in Hell.
- In The Blockbuster Buster's honest review of Angel, he says that Angel's main antagonist was Wolfram & Hart, and evil law firm - "sorry if that sounds redundant."
- In Homestar Runner, "lawsuits" consist of little more than pelting the defendant with water balloons or snowballs, sometimes followed by a mugging.
- In 20 Haunting Halloween Facts by Matthew Santoro, Matthew says, "There are people around the world that are 'vampires', who actually drink peoples' blood and claim to drain their life and take everything but their very life. These people are better known by their day name, 'lawyers'."
- Daria — Helen (an attorney) is often in the background talking to her boss about cases. At one point she says something to the effect of "No, no, absolutely not! It's unethical, it's immoral, it may well be illegal. I'll have no part of it. [pause] Okay, I'll do it."
- She's also cruel to her staff (which is, sadly, Truth in Television in too many real law offices); she once tells her assistant: "Look, our entire strategy depends on you analyzing those printouts before the weekend. I don't care if your mother's getting married! I don't care if your mother's getting executed! Do you understand?!"
- Family Guy: Peter claims that he'd sell his soul to be famous. Cue a scene in Hell where Satan is pleased to hear that, only to learn that Peter's sold his soul twice already. Angry, he asks if anyone in Hell is a lawyer. Everyone raises their hands.
- Justice League, when a bunch of aliens are persecuting the Green Lantern:
The Flash: "Don't you have any lawyers here?"
Alien Judge: "We solved our lawyer problem a long time ago. However, you could speak for him if you wish. However, be warned: If you lose, you will share the same penalty as the accused."
The Flash: "The same penalty? You mean... That's crazy!"
Alien Judge: "No, that's how we solved our lawyer problem."
- In The Simpsons, OFF have hired Lionel Hutz to help them with one of their many lawsuits. For some reason, they've invited him over to dinner, where Bart says that he wants to be a lawyer when he grows up. Lionel responds with "Good for you, son. If there's one thing America needs, it's more lawyers. Can you imagine a world without lawyers?" then imagines everyone holding hands and dancing across the world, and shudders.
- From the episode "My Mother the Carjacker"
(Homer crashes into the police station)
Chief Wiggum: All you destroyed were bricks, mortar, and attorneys!
Attorney: Remember me… as a drain on society!
- There's also a recent episode where the "Blue-Haired Lawyer" is shown with hairy hands and really long, wolf-like claws.
- In the episode The Sweetest Apu, Manjula, contemplating divorcing Apu, sees a divorce lawyer, who frequently chuckles demonically, cites the landmark case Lawyers vs. Justice and dances gleefully on the desk when she mentions they have eight children. When Manjula admits she still has feelings for her husband, the lawyer says, "When will you humans learn that your 'feelings,' as you call them, can stand in the way of big cash payoffs?"
- In a Wunschpunsch episode where the Curse Of The Week turns all people into animals, the heroes need to put them all on one ship to reverse it. They initially fail as the curse won't stop working — apparently someone is missing — until the ship starts sinking and a pair of sharks swim in — three guesses who those two people were.
- In House of Mouse, Hades, the God of the Underworld, calls Goofy over because a item on the menu uses his name without his permission. Hades tells him "A word to the wise, I have all the lawyers." note
- In Timmy's Secret Wish, Timmy was brought to Fairy Court on charges of being the worst godkid ever and Foop was the prosecutor. Foop explained that he became a lawyer to be evil enough to defeat Poof.
- Futurama has this exchange. Note that the lawyer in question was the only person who fought for Zoidberg and believed he didn't do anything wrong when he ate an Earth flag on Freedom Day — even the president of the ACLU thought Zoidberg should have been executed.
Dr. Zoidberg: Ambassador Moivyn, you killed my lawyer!
Moivyn: You're welcome!
- Disney's Hercules TV Series: A monster is terrorizing Athens and Zeus arrives to stop him and they have this exchange:
Zeus: Put down those innocent Athenians!
Monster: Innocent? They're lawyers.
Zeus: Well...Put them down anyways. You know they give you gas.
- In the two-part Evil Con Carne episode "Devolver", General Skarr is seen devolving into lower life forms. After he turns into a smelly skunk, he turns into a lawyer.
- In the The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Internet", Gumball says that everything except for jellyfish, zombies, and lawyers have beating hearts.