ROFLMAO: Can attorneys use humor to build their practice?


When was the last time you laughed so hard your belly ached?

When I asked myself that question I immediately thought about Seinfeld. It made me laugh then, and it still makes me laugh today.

Seinfeld masterfully touched on human foibles while avoiding the politically correct and overtly sexual themes we see today. Nobody got hit in the nether region. Nobody got political or lampooned traditional values. Nobody said or did anything that made you want to cover your kid’s ears.

Instead, we had bits about parking in New York, tanning beds, postal workers, and a library cop.

I still laugh whenever I think about Elaine, who couldn’t believe something Kramer was telling her, saying “Get out!” and giving him a shove that sent him backwards through the open door. Or Kramer buying the set from The Merv Griffin Show and conducting his own talk show in his apartment, complete with guests, bumper music, and commercial breaks.

If you were a fan, no doubt your remember your favorite bits: Soup Nazi. Festivus. Shrinkage. How about Elaine dancing? Or any dinner with the Costanzas?

Maybe you weren’t a fan of the show, or never saw it. I’m sure you have TV shows that make you laugh. You can use these to forge a stronger bond with clients and prospects who share your appreciation for those programs.

I know a criminal defense lawyer who has a stand-up comedy act, and while he doesn’t tell jokes in the courtroom or the office, he uses humor to connect with his clients and contacts. We can all do that to some extent.

Did you smile when I recalled a few of my favorite Seinfeld bits? If you did, perhaps you felt a little more connected to me as you recognized something we have in common.

Many lawyers don’t have much of a sense of humor, however. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. (See what I did there?) But while not every lawyer can BE funny, every lawyer can share things that are funny.

So what am I saying? I’m saying you don’t have to avoid humor just because you’re a professional. You can and should use it, judiciously, to connect with people.

Go ahead and share that funny cat video on social media. When you speak with a client, ask her if she watches a certain show, and if she does, mention a character or situation that makes you laugh.

I know, this is more difficult today. When a family friendly program like “Full House” gets rebooted and uses sexual situations and political slights, you know we’re not in Kansas anymore. So be careful.

Make sure everything you reference is “appropriate for all audiences”. You don’t want to mention something that makes your clients think less of you just because you admitted watching it.

Keep the raunchy shows and the politically oriented shows to yourself, and find something everyone can enjoy.

If you can’t find anything suitable for prime time, you can always mention a show about nothing.


People tell me I’m funny, but looks aren’t everything


Apparently, being funny is good for your career. According to this article, there are lots of benefits to a sense of humor in the workplace.

But what if you’re not funny?

We all know people who seem to be humorless. They may appreciate other people’s humor but they simply don’t have it in them to make anyone laugh.

Can you learn to be funny? I’m thinking not. And the only thing worse than having no sense of humor is thinking you do.

Trying to be funny when you don’t have a funny bone could do a lot of harm. In front of a jury, for example, a natural sense of humor, used appropriately, can score points. If you miss, it could be disastrous.

Some lawyers take “stand up comedy” courses. Others take acting classes to learn how to loosen up in front of a crowd. Do they help? Maybe. But at the end of the day, I’m in the camp that says you either have it or you don’t.

If you’re not naturally funny, it’s okay. On the Star Trek series, the Klingon character Worf is depicted as someone with no sense of humor. Nevertheless, he is respected, trusted, and generally liked. He would die to protect his friends and colleagues, he just won’t die laughing.

A sense of humor is a valuable asset but there are other ways to improve communication and foster liking and trust. Becoming a good listener is a notable example and it is a skill that can be learned.

In Dale Carnegie’s, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” he doesn’t say anything about being funny. He does talk about the next best thing: smiling. When you smile, people see you as happy and friendly and nice, and they like you because of it. When you smile, they smile and they feel good about themselves, and about you.

Smile and the world smiles with you. Tell a bad joke and the world rolls their eyes.