Of lawyers, skunks and sharks

Allan Fotheringham January 25 1993

Of lawyers, skunks and sharks

Allan Fotheringham January 25 1993

Of lawyers, skunks and sharks



The devil is in the details. Those of sharp mind always look forward to this magazine’s year-end poll that delineates the inner workings of the fascinating Canadian mind. Especially the news, confirmed each year, that Newfoundlanders like and enjoy sex more than the rest of us. Why not? If I lived in Gander I would like sex a lot, too.

Those of sharp eye, however, notice other significant items. The most interesting? The fact that Canadians, when asked which trade has “the most honesty and integrity,” ranked doctors as usual at the top with a rating of 24 per cent, followed by scientists, university professors, business executives, then journalists at 10 per cent and lawyers at four per cent. (Politicians, of course, trailed with two per cent.)

At last! Proof of our true worth. Whenever I get into an argument with my lawyer friends over their alleged ethics, I always point out that the last time I checked there were more lawyers in jail than journalists.

This may be because the only time a journalist ever spies a healthy pile of cash is when he sits beside the petty-cash jar at the press club. Whereas lawyers, as you read in the papers every month, can’t stand the temptation of taking a widow’s trust fund to the race track or wherever. The courts are full of the bounders.

What is most significant, however, is the next question in the Maclean’s poll: “Which would you be most likely to recommend to a child as a career?” Answer: Doctor at the top again, followed by business executive, scientist, university professor—and then!—lawyer at nine per cent, above journalist at four per cent.

There it is. Life in the raw. Everyone knows lawyers are shysters, well below the renowned honesty and integrity of journalists, but mothers throughout the land would shove their brats into law school. Because they make more money. It’s simple.

What’s the difference between a dead skunk on the highway and a dead lawyer on the highway? Skid marks.

The news that the masses don’t trust lawyers, but would like their daughters to marry one, of course comes as no surprise. Lawyers have great skills. The major one, as we know, is the ability to pick fly droppings out of rice while wearing boxing gloves. Revenue Canada can attest to the profits earned by this ability.

What do you call 100 lawyers at the bottom of Toronto harbor? A start.

One of the more hilarious happenings of recent days has been the fuss over Bill Clinton, the new most powerful man in the world, and his promise to recruit a cabinet in Washington that would actually “reflect the country.” No more just those dull middle-aged white males. No sir. This man is really going to reach out.

He proudly boasts, as he is sworn into office, that his cabinet contains four women, four African-Americans, two Jews and two Hispanics. Yeah. One thing is overlooked. Of the 18 cabinet members, 13 are lawyers. Clinton is a

lawyer married to a lawyer. Lawyers run the world. Why shouldn’t they run America?

You have heard, of course, that scientists are now using lawyers, rather than rats, in laboratory experiments. There are three reasons for this. The first is that there are now more lawyers in the world than rats. The second is that there is no chance that you would ever become fond of a lawyer. And the third is that there are some things that rats won’t do.

There is only one good thing to be said about the new premier of Alberta. As a Grade 10 dropout, Ralph Klein will not add to the glut of lawyers who led us to such entangled disasters as Meech Lake and the Charlottetown accord.

Mike Harcourt of British Columbia is a lawyer. Roy Romanow of Saskatchewan is a lawyer. Bob Rae of Ontario is a lawyer. The unlucky Robert Bourassa of Quebec is a lawyer, Frank McKenna of New Brunswick is a lawyer. Joe Ghiz of Prince Edward Island is a lawyer. Clyde Wells of Newfoundland is a lawyer.

Want to know why the country is in such a mess? Brian Mulroney is a lawyer. Jean Chrétien is a lawyer. Nuff said.

It’s all so depressing. Bill Clinton’s early promise is stultified now, the prospect before us of the 13 lawyers in his 18-body cabinet picking over the rice with their boxing gloves in search of flyshit. Ralph Klein and John Major might actually get along, neither of them having attended law school.

Canada is infested with lawyers, having them at 24 Sussex Drive from St. Laurent to Trudeau to Turner to Mulroney. Joe Clark escapes only because he is a frustrated lawyer, having failed to finish two different law schools. So what did he do? Married a lawyer. They’re worse than crabgrass.

You’ve heard about the lawyer on the cruise ship who fell overboard into shark-infested waters? To the amazement of the horrified fellow passengers, a posse of sharks gently raised him on their snouts and carried him to a lowered lifeboat. “Professional courtesy,” he explained as he clambered aboard.

As a veteran of the libel courts, your blushing agent was saved from the slammer for years by an eloquent bafflegab of a lawyer who was also a close personal friend.

One day I appeared before a judge and who was across the dock, with a large grin, representing those who were suing me? You don’t have to guess. The same noble representative of the profession that ranks low in honesty and integrity but would be a good recommendation as mom and dad send sonny off to college. Go weep.