So, Dewey & LeBoeuf filed for bankruptcy, as I’m sure you’ve heard. Here at Above the Law, we’ve been embroiled in nitty-gritty of the breakup of this once-proud firm. But a tipster suggested that we take an interesting step back. After checking out the comments to a Dewey story on Reuters, this reader observed: “It’s just funny (and alarming) to see how much the masses hate lawyers and cherish seeing them suffer. Makes ATL seem like a safe zone.”

The reaction from the general — and generally uninformed — public has been a crazy aspect to this Dewey story. The process of Dewey falling apart has sent some people into a frothing “eat the rich” lather. As if one law firm in Manhattan has anything to do with why an autoworker in Cleveland can’t get a job.

Let’s check in on the unwashed masses….

The comments on the Reuters story that our tipster referred to are comical both in their stupidity and their vitriol. My favorite is probably this one:

Are we supposed to be upset about a bunch of lawyers going out of business. That sounds like a good thing to me. Get rid of all the lawyers and simplify the laws so lawyers aren’t needed.

Yes, yokel, all we need to do is simplify laws so lawyers aren’t needed. Here’s a simple law: don’t speak unless you know what you are talking about. Oh wait, I think there’s another really simple rule that says my simple rule might not be okay.

Really, it’s a common sentiment that somehow “simple” laws would result in fewer lawyers, instead of simple economics.

And then there’s the ridiculous belief that there’s some kind of button we could press that would magically reduce the amount of lawyers:

Good. This country has more lawyers per capita than any other country on earth. Time to cull the herd. In Detroit we have a family of ambulance chasers that makes so much money that they can sponsor the Tigers and Red Wings games on TV. It’s time colleges started producing fewer lawyers and more engineers and scientists.

Let me pull out the Captain Crunch Decoder ring on that one: “Good. I heard a statistic once that I’m going to repeat out of context so that it no longer has any meaning. Time to cull the herd — and by ‘cull,’ I mean indiscriminately kill as opposed to carefully managing the population so the environment remains in balance. Also, somebody has more money than me, and that doesn’t seem fair. We need more engineers and scientists, even though I couldn’t solve a multivariable equation if one were raping my wife.”

Honestly, what does a white-shoe, Wall Street law firm have to do with “ambulance chasers” who advertise on local cable during baseball season?

In other stupidity:

wow. never thought about a law firm going down, but now that it’s happening, shouldn’t we celebrate? imagine, lawyers having to go out with the rest of us and actually repair a car, mop a hospital floor, milk a cow. lol…if we can get RPaul into the White House, he plans to eliminate 40,000 “laws” and eliminate a few redundant agencies… who said this recession was all bad?

[Insert derisive comment about internet Ron Paul supporter.] I’m really goddamn sick of blue-collar people acting like they’re the hardest workers ever. Nothing against the salt of the cow-milking Earth, but most auto mechanics I’ve met wouldn’t last two months at a “cushy office job” that required them to bill hundred-hour weeks while being everybody’s bitch, under the pressure of knowing that a single mistake could get them fired or lose a client millions of dollars. Jesus, I have an idea — how ’bout this guy starts preparing for the bar exam while I hook a cow up to a milking machine every morning, and after two months, we’ll see who wants to freaking trade?

Say what you will about lawyers, but their jobs are hard.

You’d expect the comments on the New York Times’s DealBook vertical to be intelligent, and for the most part they are. But man, are the pseudo-intellectuals are out in force. From a DealBook Dewey story:

Richard J. Holwell said, “This is a very sad day for the legal profession.” Why is that? Maybe the legal profession, particularly that part infesting our government, should learn the realities of the laws of economics rather than trying to change and warp those laws.

Of course there’s Shakespeare’s characters’ comments, “Let’s kill all the lawyers,” or “Occasional violence against lawyers is a good thing for society.”

Oh, hahahaha. Kill all the lawyers. So effing funny. And it’s Shakespeare! Smartypants.

You know what else was said by a Shakespearean character? “But remember that I am an ass, though it be not written down.”

On DealBook there was a lot of talk about how law used to be a profession, and now it’s a business. That’s a familiar trope, both from lawyers and non-lawyers. But there are a bunch of people who seem to think that in the process of becoming a business, law became less ethical, which doesn’t really make any sense:

I am so glad you referred to the “legal industry” though I should have preferred “legal business.” Law, like medicine is a business that was once a profession. My father, who long fought against changing the code of legal ethics to permit law firms to advertise, foresaw all of this from ambulance chasing on TV to the collapse of giant firms. The collapse obviously is not a direct result of advertising but is indeed a consequence for the kind of morality that has infiltrated the former profession of law. And that began with advertising.

Christ monkeys. Is this really how regular people think? Dewey failed because of “morality”?

I know, trying to understand society through comments on the internet is like trying to understand an animal by only looking at its poop. There’s some information that filters through, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle.

But man alive, it’s sometimes jarring to see how hateful people are towards attorneys. We’re talking about lawyers, not the Lakers.

Dewey files for Chapter 11 in record law firm collapse [Reuters]
Dewey & LeBoeuf Files for Bankruptcy [DealBook / New York Times]

Earlier: A Report on Dewey’s Day in Bankruptcy Court
Dewey File for Bankruptcy? Yes — It’s About That Time
The Lament of a Thirty-Something


comments sponsored by

53 comments (hidden for your protection) Show all comments