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The Trouble With Lawyers

By: Cielito F. Habito, PhD
I was among dozens of economists and lawyers the other night on the occasion of the first anniversary celebration of the Philippine Competition Commission, a very new—and I must say very critical—institution in the Philippine government. Here is one institution that combines the best of the two professions I’ve been describing as the ones people like to bash the most. Those who have been following this column would know that my last two pieces have been disparaging my own profession—tongue in cheek, of course—and the last one was on jokes that portray what’s supposedly wrong with us economists.
In the name of equal time, allow me to turn the focus on liars—er, lawyers (sorry, they sound alike)—and share a few digs on these lowly creatures, which I gathered online. I found, by the way, that there are a lot more lawyer jokes one can find than economist jokes. This tells me that we economists may not be as loathed as our lawyer friends are, and gives me comfort that they may have the most widely despised occupation, after all.
One reason is that lawyers are often seen to take liberties with the truth. Hence the joke that asks: “How does a lawyer sleep?” The answer: “First he lies on one side, then he lies on the other.” But what makes them particularly loathsome to many is how they are seen to be the biggest beneficiaries in legal cases (recall the oft-stated claim that the biggest winners in the Marcos ill-gotten wealth cases were neither the government nor the defendants, but the lawyers). There’s the story about a farmhand who consulted a lawyer. He had long tended a deceased farmer’s cows, believing they would become his when the farmer died—but then the farmer’s son claimed ownership. “I’ll take your case,” said the lawyer. “Don’t worry about the cows.” The next day the farmer’s son came. He insisted that the cows were raised on his land, so they were his. “I’ll take your case,” said the lawyer. “Don’t worry about the cows.” Puzzled, his secretary asked, “How can the cows belong to both?” He replied, “Don’t worry about the cows. They will be ours.”
Read the full article at http://opinion.inquirer.net/101350/the-trouble-with-lawyers