All Missile, No Warhead: Use Cliches Like a Lawyer

I’ve written before about the imbecile asshat litigation partner who creates an oppressive environment of constant terror by forcing me to do the substantive work on every single motion/brief/deposition that he “volunteers” for on other partners’ cases.

One of the blessings of this year’s holiday season has been an intense increase in his ongoing reign of terror over me because his Thanksgiving/Hanukah family obligations have left him with little time to do any real work of his own, thus he’s been forcing it all onto me. As a result, I’ve had to suffer through listening to him talk in countless meetings and conference calls during the past month, and I’m starting to notice an overwhelming trend in his speaking habits: he literally never says anything of any real substance. Ever.

The meetings and calls I’ve been on with him pertain to several cases, each with very different fact patterns and drastically divergent underlying legal theories. And yet—if you pay close attention—he always gives the same nonspecific nonsense monologues (full of ridiculous and often improperly-used clichés) when called upon to comment on any aspect of these cases.

Somehow, no one else seems to notice. Or if they do, they don’t seem to care. Which raises the question: why the hell am I trying to so hard, while this idiotic baby brain has been able to make a living as a partner on little more than superficial bluffing?

In any event, I’ve made a game out of compiling a list of his most oft-used sentences, which serves two purposes: (i) humorous entertainment value for anyone who has ever been subjected to the cliché-filled non-speak manner of talking that lawyers are so fond of; and (ii) helpful phrases to be used liberally whenever anyone shows up to a meeting unprepared and gets called upon to speak unexpectedly.

Here they are:

1. I’m pretty sure the judge will be inclined to split the baby.

2. You could drive a Mack truck through the hole in that argument.

3. We really can’t risk throwing out the baby with the bathwater, if you know what I mean.

4. Let’s keep in mind that we should pick the low-hanging fruit first.

5. It seems like you guys understand the lay of the land, so I’ll follow your lead.

6. Sure, I can take a crack at it.

7. We might as well tack on an unjust enrichment claim, even though it’s the last refuge of a scoundrel.

8. At the end of the day, it is what it is.

9. I’ve said this all along: they’re trying to put us in a trick box.

10. I don’t know whether or not this is relevant, but it seems like they’re trying to throw cold water on that line of reasoning.

11. Clearly . . . .

12. Obviously . . . .

13. That’s the part I haven’t had a chance to wrap my head around.

14. Think there’s a chance we could throw that idea out there to sweeten the pot?

15. There’s certainly a lot of moving parts.

16. I don’t disagree with you.

17. It’s okay to think outside the box, but be careful not to get too cute with your argument.

18. They’re trying to take a second bite of the apple, aren’t they?

19. But that’s just a red herring, isn’t it?

20. It’s difficult to make up my mind, because all of the elements are so inextricably intertwined.

21. The long and short of it is, this is a slippery slope we’re thinking of heading down.

22. You know what they say: hard cases make bad law.

23. I’m one of the biggest proponents of playing the hand you’re dealt.

24. It’s an exception that proves the rule!

25. Substance over form, form over substance . . . .

(Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/noodle93/4652373324)

Law Firm 10 may lack the dazzling, magnetic charisma of a girl from the hottest sorority in school, but she (arguably) makes up for that with her wit, humor, and low-maintenance-ness. Read more from Law Firm 10.

9 Comments

  1. CV

    December 14, 2011 at 7:36 am

    ha! this made me laugh. Especially when people say ” At the end of the day, it is what it is.
    “… redundant, much?

  2. Pamella Hopper

    December 14, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Hilarious. And holy hell, I’m guilty of using many of these. But only when they add substantively to the discussion. Does that make me the exception that proves the rule?

  3. Jay Pinkert

    December 14, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    What’s the deal with violence toward babies metaphors?

  4. Ellen

    December 15, 2011 at 6:08 am

    The manageing partner at my firm say at least 5 of these saying’s. For a while I did NOT understand alot of these but now that I have been workeing for a lawfirm for a while, I have NOW have learned most of them.

    My ex, Alan, also was big on stupid saying’s. FOOEY on him!

    I have been VERY busy with an EBT so I have NOT seen alot of the manageing partner. For all I know, he is useing more of these saying’s.

  5. Mean Partner

    December 15, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Love the list! Proof that “superfluity does not vitiate.”

  6. Craig

    December 17, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Very funny stuff

  7. southern bitter

    January 30, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    I am particularly fond of the scenario when a partner tells me he has a “small beans case” and he needs someone to “bird dog it.” translation: my billables are gonna get slashed come end of fiscal year.

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