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

Gossiping-The Do's And Don'ts

 


Dear John,

I admit that I am a good communicator, but to label me a gossip is both hurtful and defamatory. I am a caring person and if I do pass on information it is for the good of the community, even if it turns out to be wrong. Alternatively, it is entertaining tittle tattle. Surely the law is not taking away the basic right of a chat between acquaintances, however distant?

(name and address withheld)

Dear Enquirer,

The victims of gossip, understandably, often turn out to have no sense of humour about it at all.

If you have gone too far, a quick apology, given and accepted, is the best course of action for all parties. The alternative is to wait and see if the victim will sue you for defamation which can be a successful strategy, depending on the seriousness of your defamatory statements. Lawyers and probably spouses can help even stubborn people to assess the stupidity of their statements.

You could claim “qualified privilege” in that you acted reasonably, not recklessly in making the defamatory statements even if they turned out to be wrong.  A court will consider if it was your duty to make the statement e.g. a member of your staff had a terrible secret, or it was in the public interest e.g. your mother-in-law is an axe murderer. The person you tell must also have a need to know. For instance, your mother-in-law’s next door neighbour probably does not need to know about your employee’s secret but may find it useful to know about your mother-in-law.

You must act sensibly and check your source. If it is someone who is unreliable or is as big a gossip as you, then it may be best not to pass it on, especially if it will have serious consequences e.g. your mother-in-law’s arrest, detention and trial, even if she is eventually acquitted. Consider instead, confronting the accused person as people often get the wrong end of the stick.

If all else fails, there may be a few gossips on the jury who would empathize with you and quickly decide that you are blameless. But I would not count on it.

J.F.

*Letter reproduced with the kind permission of estate of John Fytit, legal agony aunt.


Extract from "The Art of War, Peace & Palaver: The Contentious Guide to Legal Disputes" 



 

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The Best Criminal Defence Ever

If there was an Oscar for the best criminal defence ever it would go to what I know as, the “Jump Up” defence.

Imagine that you are a criminal.  You have just stolen a TV and you are carrying it down the street.  A policeman catches you red-handed.  Being a criminal, you say nothing.  At your trial you say that you were walking along the road when a man said to you, ”Do you want to make some cash?". Being out of work, you agreed.  The man told you to pick up a TV and follow him.  You were following him with the TV when the policeman stopped you.

In criminal trials, the prosecution must prove the case beyond reasonable doubt so that the jury is sure.  Juries often give the defendant the benefit of the doubt especially where the Jump Up defence is used.

So why doesn’t everyone plead clever defences like the Jump Up? 

Well, defence lawyers are not able to assist their clients (even a little bit) in concocting untrue defences and although defendants often learn basic defence strategy in prison, some display a marked lack of creativity. After all, they can’t all have brilliant criminal minds; if they were that smart at school they would now be bank managers.

What lawyers will not do, is represent you in a not guilty plea to the court if they know that you are guilty.  I have had to work with some lousy, implausible defences over the years, but some have turned out to be true—so you never know.  The only way for your lawyer to be sure that  you are guilty, is for you to tell him.


© Paul Brennan 2006-2018. All rights Reserved.

Extract from "The Art of War, Peace & Palaver: The Contentious Guide to Legal Disputes" 

I was there

 


I gave a speech at the Hong Kong Rugby Union Annual Dinner.  It was a black-tie affair.


As I started, I could see that of the
six hundred strong audience, some were milling around at the back, but in the middle behind a long table spanning horizontally across the hall was what I could only describe as a phalanx of rugby players. Jackets off, sitting facing me in shirt sleeves, arms folded, wearing their napkins on their foreheads and tucked behind their ears in the style of Egyptian pharaohs.
 
My opening lines failed to raise a laugh, as did anything else I had to say.  After several minutes, dinner rolls started to wing their way over the napkinned heads of the phalanx and thud against the canvas backdrop behind me. Thankfully the barrage was from a section of the audience who were either very kind or couldn’t throw straight. Unscathed, I pressed on. 


Later in the speech, a member of the audience bearing a
sort of manic grin marched military-style up to the stage with the apparent intention of helping me off. He had been drinking.  He paused, looked around, then turned and walked back to his seat. He may have taken pity upon me.  Another explanation is that I was once a judo instructor and this was mentioned by the person who introduced me. I continued without him.

When something like this happens, it is best to put it behind you. The following Monday, the speech was reported in the South China Morning Post.

A couple of months later, I gave a speech at the Lighthouse Club. It was another black-tie dinner. Then I attended the next Lighthouse Club Dinner to hear celebrated barrister Kevin Egan speak.  He was facing criminal charges of assisting disgraced government lawyer Warwick Reid to flee to the Philippines while on bail by giving him a passport and a gun. I had visited Warrick Reid, who was being held in ICAC custody.

During the introduction of Kevin Egan, the introducer thanked me for my funny (sic) speech, which had been well received, or at least no one had thrown anything.  I went up to the microphone and said, “if you knew this audience, you would have kept that gun”. I still regret saying this. I had been drinking. Fortunately, Kevin Egan took it in good heart and was later acquitted.

Years later, I joined other speakers at the National Speakers of Australia Conference to present on challenging speaking experiences. My story prompted one of the other speakers, Rodney Marks to tell of a similar occurrence. Out of a hostile audience, a drunk had mounted the stage, as they grappled and fell to the floor, he continued with his speech. The audience thought it was part of his act.


 





© Paul Brennan 2021. All rights Reserved.

Debriefing the Law with Joel Ostler

    Joel Oster is a lawyer from Kansas, USA. You can listen via his website , Apple Podcasts , or Spotfiy. 


    The book 101 Reasons to Kill all the Lawyers is now available as free audio book for a limited time


     101 Reasons to Kill all the Lawyers now available as free audio book for a limited time . 

    Click to listen on GooglePlayBooks.


    Review by Law Institute Journal (Victoria)

     “For a profession known for taking itself rather seriously, lawyers are also exceptionally good at seeing the funny side of the practice of law.

    There are few better at the art of skewering the pretensions and idiosyncrasies of legal practice than Queensland lawyer Paul Brennan, author of the Law & Disorder website which, for years, has been dispensing useful legal advice heavily disguised as comedy. As well as tips on topics such as “The 10 greatest legal mistakes in business . . . and how to avoid them”, the site is host to caustic and comic legal cartoons, an eZine and more.


    Those readers familiar with the comic Queenslander’s books, including The Law is an Ass . . . Make Sure It Doesn’t Bite Yours, can now add to their collection with the latest Brennan book 101 Reasons to Kill all the Lawyers.

    The book grew out of Paul’s blog of the same name. He said he decided on 101 reasons as he didn’t want to depress the entire legal profession by having 1001.

    But there’s nothing depressing about 101 Reasons, with its advice about the things lawyers should know about but might not, such as the secret of enjoying committee meetings, how to field complaints, career planning and dealing successfully with their own legal problems. It is also about things Paul says lawyers are not expected to know about but probably should such as change, innovation, emotions, relationships and sex”.

    Law Institute Journal (Victoria)

    September 2013 87 (9) LIJ, p.86

    Click here for further reviews

    The Legal Briefs Boutique

    - the ultimate accessory for success in the law

    Impress your clients and colleagues with your commitment to the law, right down to your smalls, with captions such as:
    “Cautious lawyer" - “Please rely on your own judgement and advice”,
    “Property lawyer” - “quiet enjoyment”
    “Sexy property lawyer (limited edition) ” - “quiet enjoyment please”
    “Legal Receptionist” – “Please hold”


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

    20 April 2016

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


    By Paul Brennan

    Queensland lawyer Paul Brennan has done his bit to show that lawyers have a well-developed sense of humour. His character John Fytit began appearing in Mr Brennan’s legal cartoons in 1992. Fytit developed, moving from a bitter sole practitioner to become the confident advice-giver in a fictional legal Agony Aunt column which appeared in the blog 101 reasons to kill all the lawyers(“I didn’t want to depress the entire legal profession by having 1001”). Paul Brennan has now decided that it is time to kill off his hero, and John Fytit has passed on at the age of 51. His selected letters deliver advice on a diverse range of matters including failure to recognise a client, being put out to grass, the do’s and don’ts of gossiping, smart phones and the law, and challenging a will.


    Sponsored by Brennans solicitors

    Have you ever had a car park dispute?





    Extract : the Art of War, Peace & Palaver - the Contentious Guide to Legal Disputes
    sponsored by Brennans solicitors


    Eternity's a terrible thought. I mean, where's it all going to end?  - Tom Stoppard



    Book signing at Queensland Law Society Symposium. The sponsors "ESS the search people" will be giving away copies of my book 101 Reasons to Kill All the Lawyers which is “the perfect gift for the busy lawyer. Funny, but not that funny that they need to read it”.  I will be on hand at the ESS stand to sign copies of the book.

    Queensland Law Society Symposium
    Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre
    15-16 March 2019


    Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. 

    Albert Einstein

    Book Signing - Queensland Law Society Symposium sponsored by ESS the Search People

    The sponsors ESS the Search People will be giving away copies of 101 Reasons to Kill All the Lawyers which is the perfect gift for the busy lawyer. Funny, but not that funny that they need to read it.
    Paul Brennan will be on hand at the ESS stand to sign copies of the book. 
    Details:
    Friday, 15th March 2019
    Queensland Law Society Symposium
    Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre

    New Book : The Art of War, Peace & Palaver - The Contentious Guide to Legal Disputes

    TO BE LAUNCHED IN OCTOBER 2018

    "Beneath the light hearted veneer lurks some very sensible and practical advice on the dos and dont's of disputes”
    Cherie Blair - CBE QC
    Chair, Omnia Strategy LLP 

    “Paul makes the wisdom of Sun Tzu relatable to litigants of all types.  Regardless of whether you are in a fight with your neighbour, business partner, landlord, or someone who defamed you, this book contains valuable (and easy to apply) lessons on the Art of War.  And many of them are lessons you should be aware of before you make that first call to your litigator!”
    W. Brad Hanna, B.E.S, LLB., FCIArb.
    Partner, Co-Chair of Dispute Resolution, Franchising & Distribution and International Arbitration Groups
    McMillan, Toronto.

    When the Godfather said “Keep your friends close, but  your enemies even closer” he was quoting Sun Tzu, a Chinese Warlord who wrote the Art of War 2,500 years ago.

    Increasingly, disputes go legal. There are more lawyers around than ever before. People are increasingly aware of their rights, have more money and are less willing to let things go.

    While not encouraging you to back away from the legal disputes that you can win, this book will give you the foresight to avoid or minimise disputes in the first place which is often the most effective but least popular option.
    Sun Tzu : “Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting. Next, attacking in the field. The worst strategy is to besiege, as prolonged warfare is expensive”.

    This book not only covers court actions, but fights with government departments, multi-nationals, club committees, your spouse, neighbours and all sorts of other people and organisations that wind you up.

    Sun Tzu : “Know the enemy and yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.  Know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle”.

    If a Chinese Warlord could temper decisive and sometimes highly aggressive action with planning and caution, so can you pause to consider the consequences of your actions and plan accordingly. It is so often the difference between victory and defeat.

    This book combines the qualities of a useful book on litigation with wry humour and the odd belly laugh. Whether you are a corporate warrior, small business owner or professional advisor, it will keep you amused while providing you with insights and the understanding to manage risk.






    Sponsored by Brennans solicitors


    Law & Disorder Cartoon Caption Competition 2018




    First Prize:


    101 Reasons to Kill all the Lawyers - That Part which Laws or Lawyers can Cause or Cure


    Second Prize:                          

    I'll Have the Law on You: The Selected Letters of John Fytit

    Third Prize: 

    Please submit your own cartoon or a caption for this legal cartoon by email to info@lawanddisorder.com.au on or before 30 April 2018.  The winners shall be announced in the May edition of the Law & Disorder Ezine


     which shall be binding on all entrants. Only subscribers to the Law & Disorder eZine can enter however subscription is free and immediate at 

    Click here to see last year’s winners.  

    About Law & Disorder Competitions and Quizzes



     In 2006, our first competition was a John Fytit look a like competition. There were a number of senior lawyers put forward by their staff but the winners were never identified or in most cases informed.

    Sponsored by Brennans Solicitors
       










    Books about law and lawyers

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

    Then look no further than these two books 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








    The Art of War : Highly effective advice from Ancient China for clients

    I first came across the Art of War when I lived in Hong Kong. The book offers advice on military strategy. It was written about 2,500 years ago, by Sun Zhu, general of the Kingdom of Wu an area situated a few hundred kilometres north of Shanghai. Much has been written about the Art of War by management gurus and others so that there are 1,500 titles in paperback on Amazon alone.

    It has an immediate strategic advantage when compared with any law book in that it is only thirteen chapters (6,000 words) long, available for immediate download and free

    It was written at a time when an ill-advised attack on a neighbouring state could lead to disaster and death. This may not be the case in a dispute between neighbours today, but if you have ever been involved in a dispute with your own neighbour you will know that it can certainly feel that way. The advice is aggressive as winning is all important but also cautious maybe because one of the casualties of a wrong move was often the general himself.

    Some of Sun Tzu’s advice such as obtaining information by bribing your enemy’s officials, seeking out concubines greedy for gold in your enemy’s camp or the chapter on the use of fire in battle has less application in legal practice today. However, the book contains  plenty of other advice for legal practitioners and clients alike.

    There is practical advice such as the “Object of War is Peace” especially useful for a client demanding immediate reprisals against a brainless neighbour.

    There is esoteric and perplexing advice to ponder before taking any action at all, such as:

    1. Know the enemy and yourself and you will win, know yourself and not the enemy and you will win some and lose some. Know not yourself or the enemy and you will lose.
    2. The side that is the most loyal, has the ablest general, chooses the best time and place, is the stronger and more disciplined, will prevail in war.

    The Art of War can help to explain why the forceful, immediate action expected by clients in new litigation matters should be combined with some forethought. Before rushing on, I try to remind myself of the words of Brendan Behan who said “I have never seen a situation so dismal that a policeman couldn't make it worse” which could easily apply to a lawyer who does not ask “Where are we going with this?” preferably before sending out the initial letter.

    Then there is much advice on the twists and turns of litigation, such as:

    1. Be first in the field so that you are fresh as an enemy who rushes to the fight arrives exhausted.
    2. Combat is expensive, and the longer it goes on, the more expensive it will become. Prolonged combat will deplete your resources and weaken you.
    3. There are roads not to follow, towns that should not be besieged, armies that should not be attacked and positions that should not be challenged.
    4. Only seek battle after the victory has been won.

    my personal favourite being - if outnumbered flee.

    The King of Wu could not have been an easy client, and yet Sun Zhu was uncompromising in maintaining that it was essential for victory that the sovereign should not interfere. A general will look for flexibility and opportunity and a sovereign’s commands may constrain this approach. It is far easier to tell a client that Sun Tzu  cautions against interfering rather than suggesting that it is your idea.

    Sun Tzu advises generals to gain no reputation for wisdom or courage as if you plan secretly, act with stealth and win without fighting your victories should not be known. Noting the number of award nights that there are for lawyers these days this may be difficult advice for all but the most disciplined and humble litigation lawyer to take on board.

    You will start to find the advice of Sun Tzu to be useful in many areas of your life. Having said that even a small homily from Sun Tzu within marriage is dangerous ground

    (c) Paul Brennan 2017. All rights reserved.







    Winners of the 2017 Legal Cartoon Competition

    First Prize: 
    Eric Elrington, Beenleigh Legal, Beenleigh "I accept I need you and the QC Mr Williams, but TWO junior counsel? How much will this all cost?" 


    Second Prize
    Guy Gibbons,Bennett Carroll solicitors, Brisbane “You boys with the feathers will have to wait until the professionals at the back have picked me clean” : 



    Third Prize
    Tony Cordato, Cordato Partners, Sydney “When legal eagles meet jailbirds, there’s much to squawk about!”: 




    Honorable mentions :
    “I’m not paying for 4 lawyers!”
    Mitchell Byrne, Noosa

    " None of you look like Clarence Sparrow!"
    John Mawson, Brisbane

    "I guess the joke's on me"Sally Elizabeth Jenkins, Roma
    Thank you to all those who took part. 
    About Law & Disorder Competitions and Quizzes

    In 2006, our first competition was a John Fytit look a like competition. There were a number of senior lawyers put forward by their staff but the winners were never identified or in most cases informed. Then there was the more successful 
    Three Minute Legal Quiz.  
    Only subscribers to the Law & Disorder eZine can enter. However, subscription is free and immediate athttp://www.lawanddisorder.com.au/ezine.html.

    Rules of the Law & Disorder Cartoon Caption Competition

    The following rules shall apply to each competition:
    • Only one entry per person received by the Editor of the Law & Disorder Ezine by way of post under the announcement of the competition, or received at email info@lawanddisorder.com.au, or otherwise acknowledged by the Editor by midnight on the date referred to in the announcement of the competition shall be accepted.
    • Only subscribers to the Law & Disorder Ezine can enter however subscription is free and immediate and can be made at http://www.lawanddisorder.com.au/registerezine.html.
    • The decision of the Editor shall be final in respect of the interpretation of these rules, selection of the winning cartoons, caption or captions and all other matters concerning this competition or its prizes including the cancellation of this competition.
    • Entrants warrant that the cartoon/caption is their original work and has not been copied and does not infringe any other persons rights.
    • All entrants retain the copyright in their caption but by entry grant a non-exclusive, irrevocable, licence to the Law & Disorder eZine which can be assigned or sub-licenced to any of its sponsors, or related entities to use their cartoon and caption in connection with the cartoon in any medium worldwide without further attribution or any payment.
    • The winning entrant or entrants confirm that they permit the Law & Disorder eZine to use their name in any announcement or promotion by the Law & Disorder eZine or any of its sponsors, or related entities regarding the competition.
    • The winner of the Competition shall be sent the prize referred to in the email promoting the competition (or where there is a choice of prize, the prize chosen by the winner).  If the winner cannot be contacted within one month or there is some other impediment to the prize being sent, then the right to receive the prize lapses.  The prize can be substituted for some other prize at the discretion of the Editor.

    About Law & Disorder Competitions and Quizzes

    In 2006, our first competition was a John Fytit look a like competition. There were a number of senior lawyers put forward by their staff but the winners were never identified or in most cases informed. Then there was the more successful  Three Minute Legal Quiz.


    This Legal Cartoon Competition is proudly sponsored by:

    Brennans solicitors