The Lawyer's Coloring Book: Color My Suit Gray, My Money Green and My Underpants Important
If today’s flood of adult coloring books chose law firms as a subject, a rainbow of Crayola colors would be required to adequately capture a law firm’s vibe. This was not the case in the 1950s, when the only crayons needed were gray for the men’s suits, white for their faces and mahogany for their desks.
I know this because Craig Tractenberg of Nixon Peabody sent me a coloring book he found on the Internet that spoofed 1950s law firms. Think "Mad Men" without all the fun socializing. My blog on Franchise Times' contribution to Whataburger’s coloring contest last month was the impetus for Craig’s gift.
Written for precocious children’s parents, one page depicting our hero in an elevator says: “This is my elevator. It takes me way up high. People who are not lawyers stand right next to me in the elevator. They are all right, but I would not want my daughter to marry one.” There are three men and one woman in the elevator with the 1950s lawyer. At the time the lawyer was only talking about three of the riders. Today’s lawyer would be referring to all four people in the elevator.
The hero of the story instructs us to color his suit gray and his underpants important. (He’s an important man, he says, thereby we should assume everything he touches is important.)
Another favorite spread is a rant about the senior partner who hates him, calls him names and gives him lots of raises. “My wife calls him ‘Papa,’” he confesses. On the next page we see his stern wife with a startling resemblance to the senior partner.
The coloring book is funnier today than it was in 1950. On a blog, Above the Law, I found an article quoting a hiring manual on what to do about “lady applicants.” “If there was no way to avoid hiring a woman, it was advised they be steered into tax and regulatory transactions (which were considered less confrontational and less client contact).”
It also talked about “distaff,” or women’s concerns. Today it’s more likely to be thought of as dissin’ the staff.
To show you how far we’ve come, according to a D.C. Bar article, there were fewer than 40 U.S. law firms with 50 or more lawyers. Those who exceeded that number were referred to snidely as “legal factories.” Compensation was based on seniority and not on volume of legal business generated by each partner. The number of women in law firms and law schools has also increased significantly. And don’t forget there’s a female lawyer running for president on a major U.S. political party’s ticket.
The one whiff of nostalgia today’s lawyers might want to find in their coloring book, however, is that lawyers were considered so important to a business, corporate clients rarely questioned legal fees.
If you’d like to receive a free copy of "A Coloring Book for Lawyers," shoot me an email and I’ll send you one. But if you don’t like it, remember, I’m just the messenger.