The Groucho Marx club

The October 2010 Last Word, The Groucho Marx Club (Lexpert)  is still one of my favourites. A big thank you to Lexpert editor David Diaz for the idea.

English: Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx...

Last Word: The Groucho Marx Club
By Marzena Czarnecka

I know you didn’t make the list. Sucks, eh? What was it called again? Top-25… most influential lawyers in Canada… something like that. As soon as I saw the title, I thought, bet my brilliant friend’s on it, obvious choice, really. I scanned it, looking for your name—thought I missed it, re-read it, read it again, nope, you weren’t there. What happened?

Hey, don’t bite my head off, just asking. Obviously, I think you should have been on the list. Maybe not number one, but, you know, a solid 17, maybe even 15. But nope, you weren’t even number 25. Is it because of who chose the list? Stacked with your personal enemies, was it? No, no, that can’t be it. Look at it, some other pretty ornery dudes made it. Granted, you’re no Mr. Congeniality, but you’re better than that guy—or that one?

It’s got to be something else. Do you think it could be—now, don’t get all ruffled up, let me finish—do you think it could be, just maybe, that you’re… oh, how do I put this… you know, not a real lawyer? Hey—I said don’t get ruffled. I’m not saying I don’t think you’re a real lawyer. I think you’re the top, “a Shakespeare sonnet, Mickey Mouse, the Tower of Pisa and the smile on the Mona Lisa” and all that. But that’s me, I’m a woman of peculiar tastes. A corporate lawyer groupie one might say if one were in an uncharitable mood, and I think the fact that you draft Plans of Arrangement like nobody’s business and can structure a billion dollar transaction without sending a penny to the Canadian government in tax revenue absolutely fascinating. I appreciate the fine art involved in… um… whatchamacallit, remember that really tough thing you were droning on about the other day, what was it called, the back-stop or the lock-up or the reverse back-stopped lock-up… and it had that something or other clause that did… um, something really important—anyway, I totally get how clever and critical to the well-being of the Canadian economy, nay, the world, that kind of thing is. It rocks! You rock!

But maybe the reason you didn’t make the list is because, well, what you do… not the sort of thing most people get excited about. Right? Let’s face it, corporate law has a bit of an image problem. Boooooring. The blue suit. The brief case. The … well, yes, I was going to say, the BlackBerry, and if you think the BlackBerry adds to your overall image instead of detracting from it… come on. Cool people own iPhones. The BlackBerry says corporate drone.

Forgive me. No, totally my bad, I was completely out of line there: I know how you feel about her, and I’m so sorry I bad-mouthed your BlackBerry. But let’s go back to the image. Never mind the suit—although, seriously, would it kill you to put on something a little less… what’s the word I’m looking for? Corporate? They do make them in other colours. You could even, you know, be really daring and… well, yes, I was going to say “take off the tie.” No need to get snarky. That’s my job.

No, of course I’m not suggesting that the reason you didn’t make the list is because you wear a blue suit and tie. But they’re part of the package. And maybe that’s what you need. Look, litigators and judges—and man, there were a lot of them on that list, weren’t there?—litigators and judges have funky costumes. The robes, the collars, the wigs… no wigs in Canada? Probably a good call, but the robes—especially those red robes with white fur trim the Supreme Court justices wear—they just scream power. Influence. Legal super hero!

That’s what you need. A costume. They have robes. You corporate guys could have… capes? Fur-lined capes? Or maybe a special belt with a special spot for the BlackBerry, which in emergencies you can use to deploy a… hey, I’m just trying to help. Do you want to crack the code of how one gets on these lists or not?

Fine. Just go off to your downtown office with your robe-less, cape-less tail between your legs and bitch and moan about how corporate lawyers just don’t get any respect. Talk about how unfair and out of touch the list is. Better yet, stick your nose up in the air and, a la Groucho Marx, say you’d be mortified, absolutely mortified to be on a list with… Oh, sweetie, sweetie, don’t cry. Don’t cry. I know you’re disappointed. You rock. You’re brilliant. You’re influential. But this kind of slight is the price you pay for being a corporate lawyer.

Here—here’s your T-4A. Wipe your tears with it.

Marzena Czarnecka is a self-professed corporate lawyer groupie. She’s working on an extra-special cape design for them.

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