It’s a surprising “holiday” but one we need—Be Kind To Lawyers Day, celebrated on the second Tuesday of April each year.
Most of us—lawyers included—enjoy a good lawyer joke. On Facebook just the other day, I found a Herman cartoon from August 13, 2010, depicting two divorce attorneys and their hapless client. (Click here to view.)
I admit that I chuckled when I read the cartoon, though many lawyer jokes strike me as tasteless. Kind of like blonde jokes.
Despite my own desire for more respect as an attorney, I was surprised to learn about Be Kind To Lawyers Day. There’s even a Be Kind To Lawyers website that explains the day as follows:
“INTERNATIONAL BE KIND TO LAWYERS DAY was established as a holiday celebrated annually on the second Tuesday in April. This date was chosen because it is strategically sandwiched between April Fool’s Day (April 1st) and U.S. Tax Day (April 15th).
So now lawyers of every stripe can be honored and treated like regular people for at least one 24-hour period every April.”
We all know some of the quotes about lawyers:
- “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” – Shakespeare, Henry VI (though the character making this statement intended to eliminate the lawyers who might prevent revolution)
- “He who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.” – Anonymous
But have you heard the following:
- “Nobody has a more sacred obligation to obey the law than those who make the law.” – Sophocles (most lawyers I know follow this aspiration)
- “Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. As a peacemaker the lawyer has superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.” – Abraham Lincoln (the good lawyers I know agree with Lincoln)
- “Law is nothing unless close behind it stands a warm living public opinion.” – Wendell Phillips (which is why some judicial opinions are not respected—public opinion is not close behind)
In my experience, the law is generally an honorable profession, and most attorneys are honorable people who try to do the right thing for their clients. It’s too bad we forget it so often.
Like most professions, it’s the bad apples who make the news. The lawyers who disobey the law or court rules. The lawyers who create causes of action to garner more in attorneys’ fees than the underlying dispute is worth. The lawyers who want publicity more than a good result for their client.
Still, I’m glad there’s a Be Kind To Lawyers Day. Here are a few suggestions on how to participate:
- Take your favorite lawyer out for a drink or a meal (make sure you’re not being billed!).
- Send your lawyer a “thank you” or “just because” greeting card, or send a gift of appreciation like flowers or fruit or chocolate.
- Abstain from telling lawyer jokes for 24 hours. (You can do it!) If you can’t abstain, switch out the lawyer with your profession. It’s probably still funny.
- Try to write up your own contract, Articles of Incorporation, or draft your own will. It’s harder than it looks.
Lawyers are helpful—even necessary—in a society based on laws. Show a little respect. Respect is what attorneys want most, even more than kindness.
What will you do on April 12 (or any day) to be kind to a lawyer?