The Law Firm of Pun, Pun, and Wordplay
Our legal counsel from the firm of Dewey, Cheetham, & Howe is Hugh Louis Dewey, known to the jaywalkers with pedestrian rage in Harvard Square as Huey Louie Dewey...
You're faced with a mounting problem or situation, and are in need of legal assistance... luckily, there's a well reputable, and established law firm nearby!
In Real Life
, law firms are most often represented by multiple individuals (lawyers, attorneys, associates, et al.), sometimes upwards of three of more; when it comes to fiction, it's essentially the same concept, but the major difference is that more often than not, the names of those representing said law firm are played for laughs
. It is also not an uncommon occurence for punny names
to be utilized.
Some common variants are:
- They have a Punny Name, such as Private Eye magazine's perennial foes, Sue, Grabbit, and Runne.
- The firm consists of two or more names that seem relevant to each other, followed by an Odd Name Out (example: The Law Offices of Swindler, Backstabber, Bloodsucker, and Bob). A common variant in America is several "ethnic" names followed by an "Anglo" one, e.g. "Acosta, Silverstein, Severino, Chandrasekhar, and Smith."note
- The names of those representing the firm are basically a Shout-Out to a celebrity or otherwise well-known person who is identified by his/her full name (example: The Law Firm of Robert, Louis, and Stevenson).
- The firm has an exceedingly large number of named partners. (Example: The real firm Ziffren, Brittenham, Branca, Fischer, Gilbert-Lurie, Stiffelman, Cook, Johnson, Lande & Wolf.)
- The firm appears to be represented by nepotism, or individuals that just happen to share the same last name (example: Stevens & Stevens, or perhaps Stevens, Brennan, Stevens, Thomas, and Stevensnote ). In Fredericksburg, Virginia, you could see the real-life law firm of Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen.
- One or all of the partners have Names to Run Away From Really Fast, as an Evil Lawyer Joke ("Faust, Sinister and Moloch").
The trope codifier is "Dewey, Cheatam and Howe
", which in and of itself has also been used in fiction, and still gets some mileage, even to this day. Actually, the firm expanded, it's now Boyd, Dewey, Cheatham and Howe
The joke also appears for other professions, such as a firm of cowboy builders named "Bodgit and Scarper".note
- A Capitol One commercial features their Visigoth spokesmen, another Viking named Boris, and their goat establishing their new law firm: Boris, Boris, and Goat, Law Offices.
- Super Mario Bros.: King Koopa passes himself off as a lawyer when he first introduces himself to the Mario Bros; "I'm Larry Lazard, of Lazard, Lazard, Conda, Dactile... and Cohen..."
- The 2012 Three Stooges film had Larry and Curly looking for a lawyer; on the floor of the building they were looking in, they see a variety of punny tenants' names such as "Proba, Keister & Wince, Proctologists" and "Ditcher, Quick and Hyde, Divorce Lawyers", before arriving at the law offices of "Kickem, Harter & Indagroyne".
- Enchanted has the firm of Churchill, Harline and Smith, a Shout-Out to the songwriters of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
- In Animal Crackers, Captain Spaulding dictates a letter to the lawfirm of "Hungerdunger, Hungerdunger, Hungerdunger, Hungerdunger and McCormick".
Live Action TV
- The Goodies produced three books, and in all three a Running Gag is litigation via various firms, such as "Godwater, Norfull, Ripov, and Cheet" and "Boots, Boots, Boots, Boots, Marchinup and Downagain". The latter was a Genre Savvy version, since it turned out that the firm had only three partners and both the fourth Boots and "Marchinup and Downagain" were an invention of the senior Mr. Boots.
- The Hobbit offers us Messrs Grubb, Grubb and Burrowes, a notary firm that grubbed Bilbo's burrow and was selling it.
- In Robert Anton Wilson's The Illuminatus! Trilogy, there is mention of an Illuminati front organization which pretends to be a law firm called "Washington, Weishaupt, Budweiser and Keif".
"Later, for some reason I was never told, they changed the name to Ruly, Kempt, Sheveled and Couth, and then to Weery, Stale, Flatt, and Profitable"
- The father of one of Ross's friends in the Ross O Carroll Kelly series of books is a partner in a law firm named Hook, Lyon and Sinker.
- In Vanity Fair, there is some ambiguity as to whether Villain Protagonist Becky Sharp murdered her husband Joss for insurance money. When the solicitors from his insurance company raise suspicions, she sends in her own solicitors from the film of Burke, Thurtell, and Hayes- all named after infamous murderers.
- During a segment featuring odd billboards, signs, and other such things on Americas Funniest Home Videos, one video showed the sign for a law firm, whose names actually were Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe.
- In the Buffyverse, the Wolf, Ram and Hart are a trio of powerful demons. In Angel, they are fronted by a Legitimate Attorneys' Law Firm named Wolfram & Hart.
- A subplot in the fourth season of Arrested Development involves the law firm of Feinstein, Feinstein, Feinstein, and Feinstein.
- Green Acres: As is established in the pilot episode, Oliver originally served as an associate for the Law Offices of Felton, O'Connell, Clay, Blakely, Harmon, Dillon, and Paster.
- Hee Haw had Cletus Biggs of "'Biggs, Shy & Stir', Kornfield Kounty's most honorable law firm".
- M*A*S*H. In "Major Ego," Margaret's continued legal battle of her divorce from Donald Penobscott comes in the form of a letter from the lawfirm of Whitehurt, Blinn, Blinn, and Whitehurst.
- The original version of The Planets Funniest Animals parodied this in one episode, when segment featured a fake informercial, for a law firm, aimed at pets: the Law Firm of Charles, Nelson, and Reilly.
- 30 Rock: Tracy hires a lawyer from Dewey, Cheatum and Livingson.
- In season 2 of The Wire, a prank involving a paternity lawsuit involves a telephone call from "Shyster, Shyster & Shyster"
- World's Dumbest... plays with this when John Enos once does a fake informercial for his own law firm: the Law Firm of Enos, Enos, and Enos.
- In another episode, we're treated to a clip of an intoxicated motorist ranting in the backseat of a cruisier, inflicting harm on himself, and threatening legal action against the officer, mentioning his attorney known as Gilleto. Cue the cast putting on a fake informercial for the Law Offices of Gilleto, Gilleto, and Gilleto.
- The Three Stooges once played lawyers going by the names "Dewey Cheatham AND Howe".
- In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Uncle Phil works for the law firm Firth, Wynn and Meyer, a wordplay shout-out to the rock band Earth, Wind and Fire.
- One example (quoted in the Blandings Castle books) involves a telephone caller reaching the law firm of Shapiro, Shapiro, Shapiro and Shapiro.
- Private Eye often refers to Messrs Sue, Grabbit & Runne.
- Also, the New York-based Shyster, Shyster & Kruk has been mentioned at least once.
- In one episode of Adventures in Odyssey, Edwin Blackgard is visited by a lawyer from the firm: Dunkey, Dunkey, Dunkey, and McCormic.
- On Car Talk, the hosts reference a fake lawfirm by the name of Dewey, Cheatam, and Howe at least once per show. The credits always list their legal counsel as "Hugh Louis Dewey, also known to [group of people] at Harvard Square as Huey Louie Dewey."
- Groucho & Chico Marx's radio show Flywheel, Shyster & Flywheel, set at a small law firm, was originally called Beagle, Shyster & Beagle but an attorney actually named Beagle threatened to sue so Beagle "went back to his maiden name" Flywheel. (Both Beagles, and both Flywheels, in the company name are Groucho. We never meet Shyster.)
- In one episode of Old Harry's Game, Satan pretends to be a lawyer from the firm of Bulstrode, Bulstrode and Thirdname.
- In Animal Crackers, Captain Spaulding dictates a letter to the law firm of Hungerdunger, Hungerdunger, Hungerdunger, Hungerdunger, and McCormick (or Vasserschlagel, Vasserschlegel, Vasserschlugel, and McCormick, according to one script). At one point he has his secretary read back to him what he's written thus far:
Jamison: "Honorable Charles H. Hungadunga..."
Capt. Spaulding: Hungerdunger. Hoong.
Capt. Spaulding: That's it, Hungerdunger.
Jamison: [continues reading] "... care of Hungerdunger, Hungerdunger, Hungerdunger, and McCormick."
Capt. Spaulding: You've left out a Hungerdunger. You left out the main one, too. Thought you could slip one over on me, didn't you, eh?
- The Importance of Being Earnest makes passing mention of a law firm called Markby, Markby and Markby. Lady Bracknell comments that the Markbys are held in high esteem for their profession - one of them is even occasionally invited to dinner parties.
- Fallen London has, among others, the law firm of Baseborn & Fowlingpiece and the shipbuilding company Leadbeater & Stainrod.
- The manual for Frontier: Elite II opens with a legal letter informing the player that they have inherited a spaceship. The name of the law firm is Sue, Cripple & Sneer.
- In Grand Theft Auto IV, there is a law firm called Goldberg, Ligner, and Shyster. Shyster is a word for a lawyer or politician who uses questionable methods. Ligner is likely derived from the German word for "liar" which is "Lügner" and may be pronounced like "Ligner" if you're not familiar with German.
- Leisure Suit Larry III features the law firm "Dewey, Cheatem & Howe". He meets with Suzi Cheatem to file for divorce (and attempt to seduce her, adding another layer to the "cheat" pun).
- The Oregon Trail II features a law firm in the default starting town, with the standard name of Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe.
- In Scandal Sheet, Ito works for the firm of Robben, Olde, Widdows, & Laffing.
- The Simpsons episode "Bart the Fink" features the lawfirm of Dewey, Cheatham, Howe and Weissman.
- In "Black Eyes, Please", Ned wants Homer to punch him in the eye as retribution from Ned punching him earlier, and this exchange occurs.
- Spongebob Squarepants: Law firm is Curly, Combover, and Bald. And yes, the guys actually have these hairstyles
- In the Rocky and Bullwinkle storyline "Rue Britannia", the late Earl of Krancase was represented by the law firm of Lamb, Curry, and Rice.
- Danger Mouse at one point comes in contact with the lawyers of "Chatham, Cheatham and Runne". They lawyer he is meeting is none of those gentlemen since "Mr. Chatham is in Cheatham, Mr. Cheatham is in Chatham and Mr. Runne has gone for a walk."
- The Animaniacs episode "La La Law" has this line:
We're from the Law Firm of Warner... Dot:
. He's our silent partner.
- Ralph Bakshi revives his 1960s Terrytoons creation the Mighty Heroes in the 1987 Mighty Mouse reboot. Here they're now long-in-the-tooth accountants in the firm of Man, Man, Man, Man and Man—mighty chartered accountants.
- An old joke about Ted Kennedy being defended in the Chappaquidick incident by the infamous law firm of "Winer, Diner, Dicker and Dunker".
- There was a famous embezzler during the recession from about 2008 in named Bernie Madoff (pronounced "made-off"). Robin Williams lampshades how fitting it was for an embezzler to have such a name: "What's next? A law firm called Dewey, Fuckyou and Howe?"