How to Feed a Lawyer (and Other Irreverent Observations from the Legal Underground)

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Court TV Lawyer. A so-called lawyer who practises only in the court of public opinion.

Paparazzi Lawyer. As seen on TV, this lawyer gets to celebrity clients before the news media.

Crime Scene Lawyer. Lawyers, often prosecutors in celebrious cases, who show up at crime scenes with the police.

Mafia Lawyer. You know who you are.


One of my faves: Jailhouse Lawyer. Not necessarily a real lawyer, but could be.


General Counsel. Like an Attorney General, not a real General, but likes to be addressed as General.

Trial Lawyer. The worst of the worst kind of lawyer. No one knows why.

Pro Bono Lawyer. A free-trial lawyer. The best of the worst kind of lawyer.

Criminal Lawyer. Not usually a criminal, but could be for the right client.

Law Professor. A lawyer who loves the law, but hates lawyering.

City Lawyer. A rural term. This term can carry negative connotations, but usually implies power at a price.


JAG Lawyer. Can't tell if he's a fag lawyer.

Queen's Counsel. Might be a fag lawyer, but is probably a Canuck or Brit lawyer.


My Garner doesn't have "country lawyer" -- is there a second edition you're using? How distressing.

I'd love to know the etymology for "jackleg lawyer."

David Giacalone

You've forgotten the most popular derogatory term for a lawyer -- it's "lawyer". All the rest are redundancies or subcategories.

As Samuel Johnson said: "I do not care to speak ill of any man behind his back, but I believe the gentleman is a lawyer."

And, speaking of bling-bling, A.P. Herbert once said "Laws are made to be broken so that lawyers may drive Daimlers and drink Mumm's."


I always thought solicitor was a poor use of a name for a lawyer.


Ted: Word Detective offers this explanation of jackleg:

"Jack" was used as a generic name for a "regular guy" as early as the 14th century, a sense which survives today in our "jackknife," an unpretentious and utilitarian tool. "Jackleg" or "jack-leg" is a native American colloquialism that has meant "unskilled" or "incompetent" since about 1837, and was often applied to doctors and lawyers in the Old West.
Worthless Word for the Day offers this definition:
jackleg—an amateur; characterized by unscrupulousness, dishonesty or lack or standards; makeshift
My own theory is that it was coined for makeshift repaired legs of furniture that had rotted from contact with dirt or damp floors. Often a piece would be added to the leg to make the furniture level, a makeshift repair, rather than a new leg. This is just a guess; I'm not even a jackleg linguist.


Overlawyer. A lawyer over other lawyers. Akin to overlord; one who holds himself out as a paramount authority over other lawyers.


Practitioner. A lawyer who keeps practicing law in the hope that someday he'll actually get it right. Or, just get it.


Disbarred Lawyers. The only persons a lawyer can look down upon.


Prick. It's derogatory, and sadly those most deserving of it often wear it as a badge of honor.


Ted: I've got the second edition. I think it was published in 2001, but the copyright page is unclear.

Abnu: Your contributions are very clever.

Rufus: I know a few of those.


Thanks, Abnu. I wondered if "jackleg" was related to "jake leg."

Robert Boughton

To Ted, who said back in '04 that he wished he knew the etymology of jackleg lawyer:

Entry printed from Oxford English Dictionary © Oxford University Press 2004
jack-leg, jackleg, a. and n.
B. n. An incompetent or unskilled or unprincipled person.
1850 Amer. Rev. Mag. XI. 465/2 A party of some twenty of the most notorious rode up, headed by what is there [sc. in Texas] known as a 'jack-leg' lawyer. 1853 'Po PAXTON' Stray Yankee in Texas xiii. 137 A sorter jack-leg lawyer. Ibid. xxviii. 284 In the Texan vocabulary, all men who have a mere inkling of any trade or profession are called 'jack-legs'. Ibid., These men were 'jack-leg' carpenters. 1891 Harper's Mag. June 160/1 Once I was called a jack-leg and shyster. 1902 W. N. HARBEN Abner Daniel ii. 16 The Atlanta jack-leg lawyer is akin to the Tompkins family some way. 1943 R. OTTLEY New World A-Coming 86 The cultists were augmented by a number of herb doctors, clairvoyants, and 'jackleg' preachers. 1958 P. OLIVER in P. Gammond Decca Bk. Jazz i. 19 The wandering evangelists, and 'Jack-leg' preachers. 1974 Amer. Speech 1971 XLVI. 70 One innovation possibly attributable to population shift is jackleg preacher, which Carlson heard from a black informant in Roxbury .

Late, but hopefully you're still in the forum.

Robert Smith

When I was in real estate and insurance we had names for lawyers like "Ben Dover" and many more I can't recall.


Bottom feeder is another.

Ronald Michalla

Mouthpiece is one I like

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