A Good Look in the Mirror to Reflect
on Some of the Annoying Idiosyncrasies
of Our Beloved Profession
Time Do You Have?
I had always been ‘the gunner’ in school—
the kid in the front row with his hand raised
with all the answers—the kid everyone hated. Now, I was sitting in a classroom surrounded by eccentric gunners. Newsflash:
Having more dorks in a classroom doesn’t
mean we’re no longer dorks.” (Editor’s note:
We’d bet the “we’re finally cool” commentator must today totally be an esteemed member of the bench. Goodnow wouldn’t
confirm or deny. Because discretion among nerds.)
It’s a profession where
being direct and blunt is
Lamber is a foodie who researches restaurants on Yelp, and he’s always open to expanding his culinary palette at eclectic eateries. But even he is wary of poorly serving
“If the food or the service is lousy, I
think that most folks say something to their
server, and then hope for the best,” he says.
“Lawyers, however, are often inclined to
skip right over the waiter or waitress and
go right to the manager. Then, in your best
New York accent, you have to practice saying, ‘So, what are you going to do about
it?’” All while family members and other
Competitive to a fault
Both authors laugh at how competitive they
are. And they understand the reality that
being book smart does not always relate to
being emotionally intelligent.
“I’m the last person you want to play
Scrabble with,” smirks Goodnow.
“I’m even competitive with my language,”
says Lamber, shaking his head: “What you
meant to say was …”
Lawyer-splaining. It’s the worst.
“No one likes a know-it-all,” Goodnow
chuckles. “You’ll be hard-pressed to find a
profession that has more know-it-alls than
“There’s nothing some lawyers love more
than taking an opportunity to highlight
their genius by showing someone up—it’s
like Christmas, Hanukkah, a birthday and
New Year’s all rolled into one,” he jokes.
But in defense of the profession, Goodnow adds, “being aggressively skeptical can
help make lawyers successful advocates for
“I often take the contrary position,”
Lamber snickers. “In fact, I can convince
myself of a position I don’t even believe in.”
Not psychologically damaged at all.
The parade of horribles
“The reality is that we’re in a line of work
where we are often confronted by a ‘parade
of horribles,’” laments Lamber. “A usual sit-
uation goes bad and we’re called in to help,
often at the worst possible moments in the
lives of our clients. In your personal life, this
tends to also make you risk-averse, because
you’ve seen firsthand what can happen when
things go bad. So yes, ‘Why would I jump
out of a perfectly good airplane?’”
At the end of the day, whether “crazy
good,” or “crazy bad,” Lamber and Good-
now agree that most lawyers strive to be in-
telligent, compassionate, persuasive individ-
uals, especially when fighting for the rights
of their clients.
And because turnabout is most definitely
fair play, all lawyers enjoy this lawyer joke:
The next time you’re in real trouble, try calling a comedian.
MARC LAMBER and JAMES GOODNOW
are shareholders at Fennemore Craig who
handle plaintiff personal injury and
wrongful death matters.