Wit and humor have been used in the legal profession for
centuries. Lawyers use these devices to make their
arguments more memorable, establish rapport with the jury,
and create a connection with their audience. However, the
use of wit and humor in law also has its advantages and
Wit refers to a quick and clever verbal or written remark,
while humor is a form of amusement that brings joy or
In law, wit is used to make a point or argue a case by
using clever language, metaphors, or analogies.
For example, in the famous O.J. Simpson trial, Johnnie
Cochran used the phrase "If it doesn't fit, you must
acquit" to make the point that the glove found at the
crime scene did not fit Simpson's hand.
This remark was a clever way to remind the jury of the
prosecution's weakness in the case.
Humor is used in law to lighten the mood or make difficult subjects
For example, a lawyer may use a funny story or a clever metaphor
to explain a complicated legal concept.
Legal jokes and cartoons are also used to make a point and show
the human side of lawyers.
The use of wit and humor in law has its advantages.
First, it helps establish a connection with the audience.
Lawyers who use humor can show that they are relatable and
approachable, which can make them more persuasive.
Wit and humor can also make legal arguments more memorable, and
they can help build rapport with the jury.
For example, a lawyer who uses humor to tell a story about a client can
create a personal connection with the jury that can help sway their
Additionally, research has shown that humor can have positive effects
in legal settings.
Humor can reduce stress levels, improve communication, and increase
Lawyers who use humor may be able to manage their stress levels
better and communicate more effectively with their clients and
However, the use of wit and humor in law also has its risks. For one, different people have
different humor preferences.
A joke that may be funny to one person may be offensive to another. Lawyers need to be
aware of their audience and avoid using humor that may be inappropriate or offensive.
Furthermore, the use of wit and humor can detract from the seriousness of the case.
If a lawyer relies too heavily on humor, it may make them seem unprofessional or diminish
the importance of the case.
A lawyer needs to strike a balance between using humor to make a point and maintaining
the seriousness of the case.
Another disadvantage of using humor in law is the potential for unintended consequences. A
joke that may have seemed harmless during preparation may be taken out of context in
court and used against the lawyer.
For example, a lawyer who makes a sarcastic remark about the opposing counsel may find
that the jury perceives them as unprofessional..
In a famous case involving a hot coffee spill at a McDonald's restaurant, the
plaintiff's lawyer used a visual aid of a cup with the words "Caution: Contents
Hot!" to show that the coffee was dangerously hot. This use of wit helped the
lawyer make his point in a memorable way.
During the trial of infamous serial killer Ted Bundy, the prosecutor made a
remark that became a well-known legal joke. When Bundy objected to being
referred to as "evil," the prosecutor replied, "I'm sorry, did I offend you? Are
you evil?" This remark showed the prosecutor's wit and humor, and helped
establish him as a formidable opponent.
In a trademark dispute between Nike and a small shoe company, the judge used
humor to make his ruling. He wrote, "The problem here is that Nike's swoosh is a
little more than a swoosh. It is an internationally recognized symbol, as famous as
the McDonald's arches, the Pepsi globe, and the Rolling Stones lips. Meanwhile,
the defendant's logo is...not." This use of humor helped the judge make his point
about the importance of trademark protection.
During a hearing in a child custody case, the judge remarked, "I have always
found that children are the best judges of character. They can spot a phony a mile
away." This humorous remark helped to lighten the mood and make a difficult
situation more approachable.
In conclusion, the use of wit and humor in law can be a powerful
tool for lawyers. It can help establish a connection with the
audience, make legal arguments more memorable, and build
rapport with the jury. However, it also has its risks. Lawyers
need to be aware of their audience, avoid using humor that may
be inappropriate or offensive, and strike a balance between
using humor to make a point and maintaining the seriousness
of the case. By using wit and humor appropriately and with
consideration for the audience and context, lawyers can
improve their communication, manage their stress levels, and
increase their effectiveness in the legal profession.