SUPREME Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno didn't crack a joke about lawyers.
Speaking before lawyers gathered in Cebu City for IBP's national convention last March 20-22, Sereno instead expressed a hope: she looks "forward to a future when lawyers can hold their heads up high and no longer become the subject of sorry jokes about malpractice."
One: lawyers, unethical or not, can hold up their heads -- part of job training. Two: jokes aren't the cause of misconduct and won't go away even with more honest lawyers around.
If most lawyer-bashing charges were true, few lawyers would proudly say, "I'm a lawyer, remember." Ribbing has even become a shield against emotional or social fallout. An insult repeatedly hurled or made in self-deprecation ceases to hurt and becomes just that: a joke.
Louder bashers of lawyers are often lawyers. Atty. Frank Malilong Jr. routinely pokes fun at "compañeros" in his radio talk show.
And public misconception or exaggeration blunts the assault.
"Let's kill all the lawyers" in Shakespeare's play was said by an anarchist who wanted to sow chaos by liquidating the lawyers who bring order. And that line from Mario Puzo's "The Godfather": a mobster's SOS to his boss, "send lawyers, guns and money, the shit has hit the fun"? Wrong hierarchy of values: guns and cash top thugs' list; "clean-up" squad and battery of lawyers come next.
Praise coated with some truth disguises fallacy and softens criticism: "Good lawyers know the law/Great lawyers know the judge." "The only persons in whom ignorance of the law is not punished are lawyers."
Even with a "sorry" lawyer's joke, the chief justice could've reaped more applause.