Legal cartoons and humorous comment (c) Paul Brennan. All rights reserved.

I decided on 101 reasons as I didn’t want to depress the entire legal profession by having 1,001.
Paul Brennan, Lawyer, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Review : I’ll have the law on you: The Selected letters of John Fytit

If you are a lover of legal humour, you may already be familiar with Paul Brennan – a Sunshine Coast solicitor and author of books including The Law is An Ass: Make Sure it Doesn't Bite Yours!” and ‘101 reasons to kill all the lawyers’.

His latest book is the first major edition of the works of John Fytit (pronounced ‘Fight it’): a former embittered sole practitioner, the central cartoon character in Law & Disorder cartoons which started in 1992, and now an ‘Agony Ombudsman’ - appointed in 2013 in recognition of his 21 years’ experience in legal misfortunes.

In the book Mr Fytit dishes out practical advice and heartfelt guidance on a wide range of issues including neighbours, car parking spaces, social media, modern partnerships and legal receptionists. There’s also some insights on procrastination – and this book would indeed be the perfect distraction for any lawyer who doesn’t want to dive into the next big nasty file just yet.

It’s some light relief but the insights are spot-on in lampooning all types of legal foibles, pretensions, challenges and frustrations, the cartoons rarely failing to bring a smile to the face.

The best thing about this sort of incisive humour is that the dryness and irony in the jokes successfully illustrate serious and important truths and challenges – in the law, in life, in client communication and in legal careers. There’s a big focus in the book on relationships with adult children and on inheritance for instance, and the interplay of real but humorous personal motivations and genuine practical issues is fascinating.

Funny and informative - I can confidently recommend this book.



Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Future: Deluxe Pro Bono


The Selected Letters of John Fytit

Dear John

I have always given legal advice on a need to know basis. But my insurer has encouraged me to be more expansive so that my advice must now anticipate unexpected but possible issues such as nuclear attack.

Areas of law which used to be peaceful, such as wills and conveyancing have been declared war zones by my insurer. In the past, my test for the mental capacity for older clients making wills was that their memory was better than mine.  My insurer tells me that  I was setting the bar too low.  

How can I go on?

Anon

Dear Anon

It was when my initial advice letter on the purchase of a home had become so long that I could not bear to read it myself without suicidal thoughts that I decided things had to change.

I tried restricting myself to truly non-contentious practice areas such as votes for mothers. Then I developed the Deluxe Pro Bono Model (“the Model”) which provides that rather than receiving payment for legal services; I pay my clients. They were delighted, expectations and deadlines, fell away, my work life balance improved and my customer satisfaction surveys shot up.

 At first, the fees my clients charged me were relatively modest. But as my clients had to spend increasing amounts of their time trying to get me to do anything their fees sharply increased. Eventually, I had to look overseas for clients that I could afford, and I am proud to say that by applying the Model I have lifted entire villages in India out of legal advice impoverishment.

I have asked the government to appoint me as a Lex Discrimination Commissioner to change the attitude of lawyers so that people not only have access to legal advice but are paid by the lawyers to listen to it. I am awaiting a response.

JF


(c) Paul Brennan 2015. All rights reserved. 

Sponsored by Brennans solicitors



Saturday, May 7, 2016

Happy Mothers' Day

Dear John,

 Is there any legal way I can make my children face up to their responsibilities and show me some attention?

Concerned mother, Sunshine Coast, Queensland
______
Dear Concerned Mother

Any mention of your will should do the trick.

Find a worthy cause to champion. Your lawyer will have a whole book of charitable institutions. My advice is to opt for the slightly offbeat. My own clients have become very fond of a local Donkey Sanctuary.

A word of caution: do not leave your money to your own pet. It is a certain death sentence. Unless, of course, your pet shows you no attention either.

Use a codicil, a short addition to a will, in order to write out any particular offender. Alternatively, announce that you intend to make a new will to shake up all of your children.

With a bit of thought, your next Mother’s Day could be a very special occasion indeed.


(c) Paul Brennan 2015. All rights reserved. 





Sponsored by Brennans solicitors 



Monday, April 25, 2016

It's Bedlam in here

In 1247 Bedlam started as St Mary of Bethlehem dedicated to prayer and the poor.  It attracted lunatics (those affected by the moon). In those days, madness was your own fault. Fortunately, the possession by devils could be fixed by the church using techniques such as boring a hole in your head to let the devils out. Other treatments were spring bleeding and flogging.

Patients who could not be cured were released. But an outpouring of public sympathy enabled further wards to be built for the incurable so that they could be put back in.

It was a money making business. Families had to pay a fee and establish that their mad family member was also poor. Bedlam became a tourist attraction; Samuel Pepys took his two nephews on a day out. It was argued that tourists not only provided fees but their visits helped to supervise the inmates.

There was competition in the asylum business from the York Retreat established in 1796 by the Quakers who had no medical training and tried kindness, which was quite successful.

In 1815, an enquiry found inmates who were kept in cells semi-naked with just a blanket. It was explained that these were the incontinents, clothing just made matters worse. Also, one American sailor was said to have been locked in a cage for 10 years as he had wrists too thin for manacles. In fact, it was 9 years, it was not a cage, it was a cell, his arms were pinned to his side and a chain was around his neck so that he could be dragged nearer to the cell door for inspection and other purposes.

In 1845, parliament appointed Lunacy Commissioners to oversee asylums.


In 2004, parliament appointed a Legal Services Commissioner to oversee lawyers. We had hoped for kindness.


Sponsored by Brennans solicitors

Sunday, April 17, 2016

What’s so funny? Competition - Prizeman (sic) wins prize

If nothing funny has happened to you in your legal career, you may not be doing it properly.

Here is a winning entry in a Competition by the Queensland Law Society. What is the funniest thing that has happened so far in your legal career? Tell us in 150 words or less to be in the running  to win a copy of "I'll Have the Law on You". 


The funniest thing that has happened so far in my legal career occurred when the prosecution called on a surprise mention of a matter in the Magistrates Court. I was not in possession of my jacket, so I impressed upon the Duty Lawyer the situation and relieved him of his jacket. Only after appearing in my mismatched suit did the Magistrate not only grant me leave to appear without a jacket, but also commented on my improvised dress sense.
Winning entry by William Prizeman, Criminal Lawyer, Legal Aid Queensland, Rockhampton


Click here for details of the competition. 


Sponsored by Brennans solicitors

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Media Release : Death of Australia’s Legal Agony Aunt celebrated by a book of his selected letters

Media Release                                                                        8 March 2016

Death of Australia’s Legal Agony Aunt celebrated by a book of his selected letters

The legal profession is mourning the unexpected passing of Queensland based Agony Aunt, John Fytit (Pronounced “Fight it” and not “Fit it”), aged 51.

Readers of his international legal advice column will have followed Fytit’s journey from embittered sole practitioner to liberated and unrestrained legal advisor.

“He was variously known as a Legal Agony Aunt, and Legal Agony Ombudsman, his ambition to be a Legal Agony Commissioner was cut short. His thirty years’ experience in legal misfortunes equipped him to give the public the legal advice they truly desired” said one Law Society President.

Concern has been expressed at the hurried publication of his selected letters entitled “I’ll have The Law On You”. A spokesman for his publisher, Brief Books, said “This is the first major edition of John Fytit’s works and is as close as we will come to the autobiography that he never wrote. We wanted to get it out before the funeral”.

Fytit guided clients in dealing with their lawyers. For instance, on scruffiness, he advised “I have seen cases lost for the want of a trouser press. Tell your lawyer that you do not expect Beau Brummel, but to get a grip”.

Lawyer Paul Brennan recalls “In the early years, Fytit’s outbursts against Ombudsmen were widely reported but probably no more than professional jealousy on his part. Ombudsmen found Fytit’s approach amusing but lacking bureaucratic rigour. It was only when Scandinavian governments started to bypass Ombudsmen and refer matters directly to Fytit that Ombudsmen resolved to act. We are not sure what happened after that”.

He leaves his Sunshine Coast legal practice to his grateful wife, also a lawyer.

About the book: “I’ll have The Law On You.”

“In my blog http://www.101reasonstokillallthelawyers.com/ , I wrote a legal Agony Aunt column under the name of my main cartoon character, John Fytit. This year, I decided to kill him off, I think he would have preferred to go first. This is a book of his selected letters” says Paul Brennan.

Paul Brennan’s books are available at http://www.amazon.com/Paul-Brennan/e/B001KMQFEC

About Brief Books https://www.facebook.com/brieflaw/

I set up Brief Books because I wanted to write law books that people including lawyers would have the satisfaction of reading cover to cover. I was prepared to take the risk that they would discover that my books were total rubbish as opposed to traditional law books where they could never be sure. This new approach called for law books to be either shorter or more interesting. 

I hope that other legal authors will find this brief and short (“BS”) approach to law suits them too. By cutting a few hundred pages from their titles, they too will find their law books easier to carry around and introduce into conversations.

One disappointment is that the second-hand market in short law books can be challlenging. On one occasion, I happened to be in Dymocks in Sydney and on requesting my own book (posing as a discerning reader) I was told, “You are in luck, they are now fifty per cent off.”

Paul Brennan

About John Fytit

John Fytit is the name of the central cartoon character in Law & Disorder cartoons that started in Hong Kong in 1992. He was from the fictitious Hong Kong firm Fytit & Loos (pronounced “Fight it and Lose”). A very unsuccessful name as people read “Fytit” as “Fit it”.





About Paul Brennan

Paul Brennan was born in London. He has worked in the law in various countries including the UK, Canada, Hong Kong and Australia.

He is in practice with his wife Diane on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. They have four children.


For media enquiries, email paul.brennan@brennanlaw.com.au or call Paul Brennan direct on 0400 150 711 or his office on 617 5438 8199.



Friday, March 4, 2016

Enjoying Committee Meetings - The Secret



If you have ever been stuck in a committee meeting feeling that you would prefer to poke yourself in the eye with a stick, you are not alone. Here is a proven, easy technique to survive and gain from the experience.

This is one of a series of video clips to promote "I'll Have the Law On You" a new book by Paul Brennan being launched in March 2016.

Sponsored by Brennans solicitors

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Let sleeping clients lie


What to do when a client falls asleep  


New Book : Launch in March 2016



Sponsored by Brennans solicitors

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Making a Madam


WARNING: VIDEO CLIP CONTAINS SEXUALLY EXPLICIT MATERIAL



Whether or not the defendants in Making a Murderer are innocent or guilty it demonstrates the weight of responsibility on individual police officers, lawyers and judges to play their part in making the criminal justice system appear fair. Is it worth it?

There are savings to be had in shooting persistent offenders. The strain on the criminal justice system could be further reduced by decriminalising drugs and lifting restrictions on alcohol consumption. The existing laws are perfectly adequate to prosecute drunken and/or drug fuelled antisocial behaviour however penalties could be increased in a way that offenders are never seen again. This should keep the student population under control.

Citizens should be encouraged to have a go and stop complaining to the police. With unrestricted access to fatal doses and a morgue, Hospital Emergency Departments would be less busy on Saturday nights if they had permission to dispose of trouble makers themselves rather than calling for police assistance. 

With the dreary habitual offenders gone, courts could focus on the entertaining and interesting cases which are most likely to attract sponsorship and TV royalties.

If Judges were given absolute authority and relieved of the obligation to appear fair, we could expect every trial to end in the execution of someone or other. Rather than being glared at lawyers could be flogged for getting a section number wrong. Submissions would improve. If glancing at a mobile phone could result in the loss of a hand, people are more likely to remember to turn then off.



Soon police officers would return to helping old ladies across the road, lawyers to commercial law and fair judges to a well-earned retirement. 



Click here for books by Paul Brennan on Amazon 


BOOK LAUNCH - March 2016


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Christmas Gift : 101 Reasons to Kill All the Lawyers - the Book


Are you looking for something special for the legal person in your life?

Then look no further than a book on law and lawyers:  

FAQ

Q. Will it give me an insight into my lawyer husband?
A. No, nothing that you have not suspected over the years.

Q. Do you do exchanges?
A. No, you married him.




Sponsored by Brennans solicitors

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Great Unread



As a law student, I spent many hours reading law books. It was the longest week of my life.

Then I discovered that law students don’t read law books. They are to be carried, taken home once, then placed on bookshelves and finally sold to next year’s law students in pristine condition.

For lawyers, unlike participants in the four-minute mile or the Tour de France, taking shortcuts is understandable when reading traditional law books. But still, we legal authors find it difficult not to include everything that we know and a great deal that we don’t know.

I wanted to write law books that people including lawyers would have the satisfaction of reading cover to cover. I was prepared to take the risk that they would discover that my books were total rubbish as opposed to traditional law books where they could never be sure. This new approach called for law books to be either shorter or more interesting. 

I soon found that I could leave out a few hundred pages, and readers either didn’t notice or didn’t mind. In my first book “Law for IT Professionals” I was complimented by one reviewer (there was only one) for summarising the rest of the law in eighteen pages, or was it thirteen.

Other legal authors found that my brief and short (“BS”) approach to law suited them too and cut hundreds of pages from their titles. They found as I did that they were far easier to carry around and introduce into conversations.

One disappointment is that the second-hand market in short law books is disappointing. On one occasion, I happened to be in Dymocks in Sydney and on requesting my own book (posing as a discerning reader) I was told, “You are in luck, they are now fifty per cent off.”



Sponsored by Brennans Solicitors

Sunday, November 8, 2015

New Book : I'll Have The Law On You - The Selected Letters of John Fytit

 BOOK LAUNCH TO BE IN MARCH 2016

This is the first major edition of John Fytit’s* works and is as close as we will come to the autobiography that he never wrote.

Readers of his legal advice column will have followed Fytit’s journey from embittered sole practitioner to liberated and unrestrained legal adviser.

His thirty years’ experience in legal misfortunes equipped him to give the public the legal advice they truly desired.

Variously known as a Legal Agony Aunt and Legal Agony Ombudsman, his ambition to be a Legal Agony Commissioner was cut short.


*Pronounced “Fight it” and not “Fit it”.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Does the profession have a drug problem?

Lawyers Weekly reports "There have always been whispers within the legal profession of social cocaine use among top-end lawyers. How deep does the problem go?". 

Coke, dope, ice: Does the profession have a drug problem?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Ten things that I wish I knew when I started out in the law


Ten things that I wish I knew when I started out in the law

1. It is not always possible to predict clients’ legal problems before they sit down.
2. Unlike a doctor, having a heartbeat is not the only qualification to look for in a potential client. Mutual respect is desirable.
3. “Do nothing” can be the best advice to resolve a legal issue.
4. Rule 1: Read the file before asking your boss a question. Rule 2: See Rule 1.
5. There can be a gap between what clients want you to do and what is in their best interests.  
6. It is human nature for people to value legal advice more if they pay for it. It is more likely that they will accept and act upon it.
7. Other people's problems are easy; your own are baffling.
8. Legal moves can attract reactions try to think what they may be in advance.
9. Never look back at a closed file as you may see a problem that would otherwise have resolved itself.
10. Never answer the office telephone at 4.59 pm on Friday. 




Sponsored by Brennans solicitors




Thursday, September 3, 2015

Good Will Hunting

Dear John

I wish to make a will, but I do not have enough to go around. I fear that the Will may get into the wrong hands and cause upset to those who do not get a mention.

JB, Sydney

Dear JB

It used to be that when you made a will it was stored away so that not even your lawyer could find it. But in this digital age there are multiple copies of wills on computers, attached to an email, etc. This means that people worry that their relatives and friends may get to see the Will before they go and get upset that they have been left out or in some cases not been left enough. Such fear can drive clients to make wills that resemble an Oscar acceptance speech.

If your estate is modest then in order to give something to everyone your lawyer can slice and dice your assets into bequest sized packages and add a few things that you do not own now but aspire to own by your death such as a Morgan, Rolex watch, villa in the South of France, etc.   Gifts can be spread further by giving jointly to several beneficiaries, or for life, or in succession i.e. if the legatee predeceases you then someone else gets it. Add a “survivor takes all clause” and you could increase the longevity of even the frailest family member.

You will no longer need to fear a pre-death glimpse or even a full-scale relative review of your will. A carefully drafted will can contain a cast of beneficiaries who would do credit to a Cecil B. De Mille epic.


You will find yourself gaining in popularity as your will delights family and friends alike. Not to mention a bigger turnout at your funeral even if it is raining.

John Fytit
Extract from - I'll have the law on you -selected letters of John Fytit to be published later this year. 

(c) Paul Brennan 2015. All rights reserved. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Free Speech in the Home

Dear John

Now that the children have left home, my wife says that I am not allowed to shout at the cat anymore in case the neighbours think that I am shouting at her. Is there no end to censorship?

BC

Dear BC

Free speech is under attack not only in our households but everywhere. It is not possible to criticise certain causes without being subjected to a full hue and cry. I will not mention those causes here for obvious reasons.

Joseph Stalin once said “Remove the man, remove the problem”. This can not only be applied to cats but also to wives, husbands and other family members.


Extract from - "I'll have the law on you -selected letters of John Fytit" to be published later this year. 

(c) Paul Brennan 2015. All rights reserved. 

sponsored by Brennans solicitors


Sunday, June 14, 2015

Car Parking Space Abuse

There is a time in a movie when the mild mannered citizen finally cracks and seeks retribution. This is how I felt the other morning when someone parked in my car parking space. In Queensland, we do not strap on our Colt 45, or load up our shotgun we use stickers.

Despite being red, bearing the word WARNING, containing threats of a financial penalty  and the car being towed away stickers have proven less effective than lynching.

One problem is that the sticker repeats the same threats that appear on the Warning Sign which the offender ignored on the way into the car park. To be effective threats must escalate. For instance, attach a rock to a sticker bearing the words “We know where you live”.

If your Warning Sign is being ignored ditch the legalese and put something more compelling such as “Ebola Research Centre”.

Victims are urged not to place the sticker on the windscreen but on a side window so that the offender’s line of sight is not impaired during the getaway. Whereas victims call for poster sized Warning Stickers.

At midday I looked out the window, the offending car was gone and I reclaimed my space. It was then that three things occurred to me:
1.       It had been the morning of our trust account audit;
2.       The auditor had left just before noon; and
3.       As I had stuck the sticker on the windscreen I was impressed by  the neatness of the car interior.

Whether or not, it was a friendly fire sticker incident we will hopefully never know.

Would it help to give Warning Stickers legal authority? Yes, but only if there was someone (possibly  a masked stranger)  ready  to enforce such laws against wrong doers.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Your inheritance is free – but is it safe?

Many family issues are common place:

Your wayward son is not unique especially when drink is involved. 
If your daughter-in-law is a fright, you are not alone.
And I will not start you off on your husband.

You have reached an age where you can see the big picture and your mother was right. 

Now what? Well, it will take determination, strength and a legal fees…. but first read Hang on to it girl - The Wily Woman's Guide to Wills. 

Cherie Blair described this book as “funny and short”, or at least I think she was referring to the book. 

“Guaranteed to make the woman of the house laugh which could be a first in some cases” John Fytit, lawyer.

http://www.brennanlaw.com.au/
Sponsored by Brennans Solicitors

Monday, April 6, 2015

Moving Courts On-Line


Dear John 

I understand that there is a big push worldwide to move courts online to increase efficiency and reduce cost. Will this really help?

C.L.

Dear C.L.

Although we should keep certain traditions such as having everything in triplicate, many welcome law-on-line as an opportunity for reform.




Here are five proposals:

  1. There is no need to have a judge at every court. In the eleventh century, itinerant judges went from town to town on particular circuits dispensing the King’s justice as required. Judges could be kept at a central location called a “Home” and sent to courts on request. How often would that be? Well, according to focus groups - never. But, even if it were not often, there would still be substantial savings. 
  2. Already in our courts, oral submissions have for the most part been replaced with written submissions. Would it not be more efficient to have an on-line questionnaire with a choice of four answers “Yes”, “No”, “It all depends” or “I don’t know”?
  3. Legal service consumers who have long complained about the performance and appearance of their lawyers should have a choice between standard lawyers and muscle bulging digitized virtual lawyers equipped with the type of weaponry available in any computer game. 
  4. Prison sentences and other old fashioned penalties could be replaced with virtual punishment. For instance, virtual tagging preventing offenders from going on Facebook. Community service could be served in Second Life.
  5. I have long thought that a jury of twelve is far too small. In ancient Athens juries consisted of five hundred citizens. We could easily outdo this by using Twitter. If submissions were only 140 characters, cases could be over in minutes. 

I do not agree with those who wish to replace familiar terms such as “plaintiffs” and “defendants” with something less confrontational such as “survivors”. However litigants should be allowed to choose their own court persona to protect their privacy and spice up the court lists.

How much saving could such reforms achieve? Well, if Instagram can manage thirty million subscribers with thirteen staff I think we can do better than that.

J.F.


Extract from - I'll have the law on you -selected letters of John Fytit to be published later this year. 

(c) Paul Brennan 2015. All rights reserved. 

Sponsored by Brennans solicitors