Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Derogatory Names for Lawyers.

I was reading a legal dictionary today (as you do), and I came across a section on the derogatory names for lawyers.

I though I’d share some of them here. Feel free to suggest yours!

Bryan Garner, the author of ‘A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage’, says: “The chief irony of lawyerdom is that poll after poll shows that (1) the public holds lawyers in low esteem, but (2) of all the possible careers that are available, parents would prefer to have their children become lawyers”. ;D So true…

Here are some of the names (the majority of them are archaic, obviously):

ack-ack = (20th-c) a court appointed lawyer.

ambidexter = (16th-19th-c) an unscrupulous lawyer who takes fees (or sometimes bribes) “with both hands”, that is, from both sides of the controversy.

ambulance chaser = (19th-20th-c) a lawyer who solicits business from accident victims at the scene of the accident or shortly thereafter […] The first so-called ambulance chaser – and the reputed coiner of the term – was Abraham Gatner, who in 1970 persuaded a New York law firm to let him sign up accident victims on retainer agreements for the law firm. Actually, though, the term was a misnomer from the beginning because Gatner would not reach the injured person until hours later – and often the next day.

Blackstone lawyer = (19th-20th-c) a self-educated antebellum lawyer whose legal training consisted primarily in reading Blackstone’s Commentaries.

city lawyer = (19th-20th-c) This term is self-explanatory, except that the people who use the term are usually from rural areas.

dump truck = (20th-c) a public defender. E.g., “Clients often refer to their public defenders as ‘dump trucks’, a term that apparently derives from the defendant’s belief that defenders are not interested in giving a vigorous defense, but rather seek only to ‘dump’ them as quickly as possible” (Suzanne Mounts).

green bag = (17th-19th-c) a lawyer – through the process of metonymy: for their papers, lawyers formerly carried bags made of green canvas or cloth.

horse lawyer = (19th-20th-c) a lawyer of little ability.

jackleg lawyer = (20th-c) an amateurish and dishonest lawyer.

jungle fighter = (20th-c) a lawyer who practices in the lower criminal courts.

lip = (20th-c) a criminal lawyer (viewed cynically).

mob mouthpiece = (20th-c) a defense lawyer for mobsters.

shyster = (19th-20th-c) a professionally unscrupulous lawyer.

sore-back lawyer = (20th-c) a personal injury lawyer.

PI and Criminal lawyers sure had a lot of nicknames…

Source:  ‘A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage’ by Bryan A. Garner (original spelling and punctuation kept).


  1. hehe... I'd not heard of most of those.

    Dump truck is an interesting one... in fact, there's a girl at work who I've nicknamed that. ;-)

  2. Before or after you read this?.. ;D

    I've never heard of the most ones either (probably because they are American as well as old!), but still... People just love to hate lawyers, don't they?

  3. before... it's one of my daddy's favoured terms for slightly, how should we say, rotund ladies! ;-)

    I guess that's where I've got it from!

  4. Interesting - I cant say I've heard many of these names either but judgin by the sparkling success of my legal career to date, I do believe I fall under the category of Horse Lawyer!!!

  5. Haven't heard of many of these. And I kinda wanted to be a high flying City solicitor at some point in the distant future!

    My Chemistry teacher was super upset when I told him I was going to be a lawyer... he couldn't believe it. In that moment I think any respect he had for me fell dramatically and I was no longer a decent human being!!! :-S

  6. which means that your injury or illness will be covered by workers’ compensation regardless of whether it was your employer’s fault, or your fault. my site

  7. Having received money from the diminished value calculation will help ease the pain of that calculation. personal injury lawyer