Lowering the Bar: Lawyer Jokes and Legal Culture

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Univ of Wisconsin Press, Aug 8, 2006 - Humor - 448 pages
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What do you call 600 lawyers at the bottom of the sea? Marc Galanter calls it an opportunity to investigate the meanings of a rich and time-honored genre of American humor: lawyer jokes. Lowering the Bar analyzes hundreds of jokes from Mark Twain classics to contemporary anecdotes about Dan Quayle, Johnnie Cochran, and Kenneth Starr. Drawing on representations of law and lawyers in the mass media, political discourse, and public opinion surveys, Galanter finds that the increasing reliance on law has coexisted uneasily with anxiety about the “legalization” of society. Informative and always entertaining, his book explores the tensions between Americans’ deep-seated belief in the law and their ambivalence about lawyers.
  

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User Review  - marywhisner - LibraryThing

A law professor and sociologist analyzes lawyer jokes, tracing some to far-away roots (the Renaissance, e.g., or a Russian joke bout Soviet party officials), with commentary placing them in the context of American society. Very interesting. Read full review

Contents

Introduction
3
The Enlargement and Withdrawal of the Legal World
9
Learning from Lawyer Jokes
15
Lies and Stratagems The Corruption of Discourse
31
Workers in the Mills of Deceit
36
Eloquence Persuasiveness Resourcefulness
40
Lawyer Talk as Fakery and Bombast
47
Masters of Stratagem
50
Betrayers of Trust
157
The Betrayal Joke Cluster
160
Betrayal as Virtue
166
What Do the Jokes Tell Us?
171
An Excess of Loyalty?
177
The Lawyer as Morally Deficient
179
Looking Out for Number One
184
No Redeeming Social Value
186

The Lawyer Outsmarted
55
The Ascendency of Lawyer Talk
61
The Lawyer as Economic Predator
64
Taking It All
66
A Prodigious Predator
70
Fee Simple
76
Throwing the Meter
80
Predation as Sex Sex as Predation
86
The Justice Tariff
94
Playmates of the Devil
97
Headed for Hell
101
Absent in Heaven
105
A Kingdom of This World
108
Conflict Lawyers as Fomenters of Strife
114
Promoters of Conflict
118
The Conniving Claimant
120
Litigation Fever
130
The Lawyer as Heroic Champion
138
The Demography of the World of Lawyer Jokes
142
Women in Combat
144
Jews and Other Outsiders
148
Seniors and Juniors
152
He Just Doesnt Get It
190
In the Laboratory
192
Lawyers as Objects of Scorn
196
Sounding the Depths
199
Into the Slime
202
The Anal Connection
204
The Uses of Scorn
207
A Good Start Death Wish Jokes
210
The Contemporary Onslaught
213
Lets Kill All the Lawyers
215
A Pestilent1al Affliction
219
The 70 Percent Legend
223
Why Death Wish Jokes Flourish
226
Enemies of Justice
233
The Lawyer as Enemy of Justice
236
What Does Law Deliver?
240
Only in America?
249
Register of Jokes
263
Notes
275
References
357
Index
413
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

Marc Galanter is the John and Rylla Bosshard Professor Emeritus of Law at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and Centennial Professor in the Department of Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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