When lawyers get their comeuppance

Ain’t it a grand and glorious feeling?

by Briggs

I know some really good, decent, and ethical attorneys. At least two. But it’s always nice to experience that warm glow of Schadenfreude when you see the firm of Dewey, Cheetham,and Howe get a well-deserved comeuppance.

“Following [Mad] magazine’s parody of the film The Empire Strikes Back, a letter from George Lucas’s lawyers arrived in Mad’s offices demanding that the issue be recalled for infringement on copyrighted figures. The letter further demanded that the printing plates be destroyed, and that Lucasfilm must receive all revenue from the issue plus additional punitive damages. Unbeknownst to Lucas’ lawyers, Mad had received a letter weeks earlier from Lucas himself, expressing delight over the parody and calling artist Mort Drucker and writer Dick DeBartolo “the Leonardo da Vinci and George Bernard Shaw of comic satire.” Publisher Bill Gaines made a copy of Lucas’ letter, added the handwritten notation “Gee, your boss George liked it!” across the top, and mailed it to the lawyers. Said DeBartolo, “We never heard from them again.”

Wikipedia

When I learned of this, I was reminded of the “fangs-down” letter Gary Larson received about his “Doing a little more research with that Jane Goodall tramp?” cartoon. Turns out Ms. Goodall thought the cartoon was a crackup, and it was eventually published in National Geographic’s centennial edition. (Documented in Gary Larson’s The Pre-History of the Far Side.)

Gary Larson

Then there was Beasley Allen, a Montgomery-based law firm that filed a class-action lawsuit against Taco Bell alleging their taco filling did not meet the minimum USDA qualifications to be called “beef.” Beasely Allen later dropped the suit, pointing to “changes in marketing and product disclosure” by Taco Bell.

“Bullmeat,” said Taco Bell, and published the following full-page ad in USA Today:

Beasley Allen never apologized. But law firms are not known for that little social nicety.

Back in 2015 I had my own brush with infamy (and some satisfaction), when a legal firm in Washington, DC sent me a Cease and Desist letter for supposedly maligning the manufacturer of a worthless weight-loss product called “Pro Bio-Slim.” The gory details are still around as an earlier post in this blog; I pointed out all the flaws in the request and 5 years later have yet to receive any sort of follow-up from the attorneys in question.

Like I said, you can find good attorneys out there if you turn over enough rocks. Many are, in the words of Herman Melville,

“… one of those unambitious lawyers who never addresses a jury, or in any way draws down public applause; but in the cool tranquility of a snug retreat, do a snug business among rich men’s bonds and mortgages and title-deeds.”

Melville, Herman, “Bartleby the Scrivener,” 1856

I’m grateful for legal services rendered throughout my lifetime, all the while trying to avoid the necessessity. But because the world of law is largely a world of confrontation and hostilities, the profession seems to attract a surfeit of thermonuclear douchebags, and it’s always heart-warming to see one or a number of these (the collective noun is “a litigation of attorneys”)¹ get taken to the social cleaners.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


Footnotes:

¹ Not to be taken seriously. Some others are:

  • A descent of relatives
  • A windbag of politicians (I have my own, but it’s not suitable for a family-friendly blog
  • A groan of puns

And a list, comprehensive but not complete, of these fanciful collective nouns can be found here.

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