The days of getting a big laugh out of asking “What is the difference between a lawyer and a catfish” may well be numbered according to new research from Ernest Sidebottom, Professor of Humourology at  Sydney University.

“We have not seen this precipitous a fall in joke volumes since the almost extinction of the ‘Knock-knock’ joke in the 1960’s” the Professor said. “Lawyer jokes have been constant at about 17% of all jokes told for the last 40 years, but have dropped alarmingly in the last 6 months due to what is known as The LawPath Effect.”

According to Professor Sidebottom’s research, the gag:

Q. What is the difference between a lawyer on a motorcycle and a vacuum cleaner?

A. The vacuum cleaner has the dirtbag on the inside

was consistently in the top 5 of jokes told until just recently.

The reason according to Professor Sidebottom is the new lawyer-matching service LawPath.com.au. “It appears people are having a great experience with the lawyers they are being matched with through LawPath and they get a free 30 minute consultation. The great experience and the low cost means the jokes about lawyers now just fall flat. Scientists are calling this ‘The LawPath Effect.’”

An extract from the Professor’s seminal tome on the subject “The LawPath Effect and the Demise of the Lawyer Joke” is telling:

Lawyer joke

Percentage of all jokes told

Pre-LawPath

Post-LawPath

Q. How can you tell when a lawyer is lying?

A. His lips are moving

6%

0.4%

Q. Why won’t sharks attack lawyers?

A. Professional courtesy

5%

0.7%

Q. What do you call the only smiling, courteous person at a Legal Convention?

A. The caterer

3%

0.2%

Q. What is the difference between a lawyer and a herd of buffalo?

A. The lawyer charges more

2.5%

0.1%

Q. What is the difference between a lawyer and a vulture?

A. The lawyer gets frequent flyer miles

2%

0%

Extract from “The LawPath Effect and the Demise of the Lawyer Joke”, Professor Sidebottom, 2013

Anecdotal evidence supports the Professor’s research. Harry Barnstonworth, an exceedingly annoying man from Sydney tells us “Every Easter we have a BBQ and I love telling a new lawyer joke to my brother-in-law who’s a lawyer. He doesn’t laugh but I get a good chuckle from the family.”

“This year I was going to tell him the one about ‘What can a lawyer do but a duck can’t? Stick his bill up his butt’. That’s a cracker, but I don’t think anyone will laugh this year. Those LawPath guys have set up both my sister and my dad with great lawyers and no one finds lawyer jokes funny anymore.”

The LawPath Effect is also spilling over to other professions with the number of jokes about accountants and actuaries on the rise. Trevor Sliderule, CEO of The Australian Actuaries Association, said “ There has been a steep rise in the number of dull actuary jokes being told over the last 6 months. We wish those LawPath guys would start doing something for actuaries as well.”

Paul Lupson, CEO of LawPath said “We think there has been a disconnect between lawyers and clients – we are trying to address that by connecting the client with the lawyer who has the right experience for the job and the client gets a free 30 minute consultation to see if they like the lawyer.”

When asked about ‘The LawPath Effect’, Lupson replied “Our goal is to give people such a great experience with lawyers that the Lawyer Joke will be extinct by the end of the decade. Shakespeare wrote in Henry VI, ‘Let’s kill all the lawyers’. It’s a shame he is dead, cause after seeing The LawPath Effect, he might want to change that line”.

 The Helpful Lawyer

Dominic Woolrych

Dominic is the CEO of LawPath, dedicating his days to making legal easier, faster and more accessible to businesses. Dominic is a recognised thought-leader in Australian legal disruption, and was recognised as a winner of the 2015 Australian Legal Innovation Index.