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"A lawyer doesn't need to believe. He goes by what he is told." Kenyan lawyer Francis Kadima on his representation of suspected pirates who maintain they were innocent fishermen.

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Lawyers, generally, aren't very nice people to live with.


Several factors merge to form one big pain in the butt... you. Stress. Combative pressures of practice. Office politics. Emotional connection with clients and their cases. Analytical mindset. Idiocy that abounds outside law. (Inside, too.)

The law hones one's personality traits into frighteningly sharp focus. Careful. What may be good in a lawyer can be the kiss of death in a person. The structural friction that can be so fruitful in law... is irritating as hell in life. Being the gladiator may be necessary, or even fun, but would you want to cuddle up to one?

Don't cross-examine your spouse when he or she disagrees with you. Don't berate your children for their inability to weigh the policy factors involving ownership versus usufructuary interests in toys. Don't be an asshole.

Why are we so hard on others... and ourselves? Part of the reason is our reexive genuection before the false god of Logic.

Man is not a rational creature. We have the capacity for rational thought (most of us, anyway), but that is a very different thing. Our actions and motivations are ordinarily not known even to ourselves; it is the rare person who understands why he acts irrationally.

People are idiots--present company included--who do stupid things. Recognize--and accept--that most do not judge the world in the cold, hard way that Lady Justice does. Most wander about, instead, in a fog of mushy reality. Don't condescend: you do, too. You just cover it with a veil of logic fashioned during law school and painstakingly embroidered in practice.

Every once in a while, stop... and listen to yourself. If you'd smack you if you were you, lighten up. (You, not you.)

Beware the lawyer in you, just itching to consume the nice young person you once were. With competence comes a certain rigidity. Most lawyers suffer fools lightly. Trouble is, foolishness abounds. And, worse, those few who are excessively rational tend to be rather dull. Either way, be careful whom you become.

Excerpted from The Young Lawyer's Jungle Book, by Thane Josef Messinger, a graduate of the U. of Texas Law School, where he was an editor of the Texas Law Review.
Copyright 1996, The Fine Print Press

* Important Message From the Library Staff To the Library's Beloved Patrons * A lawyer/editor/psychotic friend raved about this book and insisted we'd love it, so we read it and liked it so much we bought the company -- opps, wrong commercial... Let's try again... After reading this new [11/96] book, we liked it so much we contacted the author and coerced him into giving a Special Deal to Library visitors who order it.

So, while we hesitate to do anything that might encourage further spread of The Lawyer Plague, if you already made up your mind, we strongly encourage you to find out more about The Young Lawyer's Jungle Book, and to order and read it immediately.