• Wheee! Let's do it again, daddy! - Nell M
  • They need to add another point:
    . This tractor has a tendancy to be ticklish and will retaliate without warning - The Rocketeer
  • Heroine now available in convenient finger prick. - MAKSTER
  • Instant gangrene in your bloodstream by the looks of the picture - T-Rav

Punk'd by Lawyers

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Seeing this tractor festooned with as many stickers as an Indy race car, I got to thinking about lawyers… When exactly did they take over?

How do you think the concentration of lawyers in the U.S. in 1970 compares to prior decades, back to 1900? I assumed a steady growth of lawyers, given the profound transition from a rural agrarian nation to a metropolitan nation with complex industries.

It reminded me of a fascinating talk by Robert Putnam on social capital and the breakdown of a culture of general reciprocity:

“Astonishingly, America had fewer lawyers per capita in 1970 than in 1900.

After 1970, however, the ratio of lawyers to the rest of us suddenly exploded, more than doubling in the next quarter century, and bloating this entry in our national ‘transaction cost’ accounts.

No other major profession experienced this same post-1970 explosion. After 1970 the legal profession grew three times faster than the professions as a whole.

For the first seven decades of the 20th century the ratio of lawyers to engineers fell steadily, as our economy became more ‘technology intensive.’ By 1970 America had 1 lawyer for every 4.5 engineers. At that point, however, the century’s trend was completely reversed. By 1995, despite all he talk of a high-tech economy, we had 1 lawyer for every 2.1 engineers.” (Bowling Alone, pp.145-6.)

Last year, an IBM executive told me they have more lawyers working on “nanotech” than engineers.

(more lawyers: at the beach, strip club, and the prairie)

Greg Vision, The BrassPotato, T-Rav, and 8 other people added this photo to their favorites.

  1. Nell M ages ago | reply

    Those statistics are scary. They say a lot about american society.

  2. TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ ages ago | reply

    The side effects of a system that works.

    There you have people trying to make their benefit from a Justice that works too efficiently.

    Down here you have people trying to make their benefit from a Justice that works too inefficiently (if it gets working!).

    I wonder why there should be any difference between these people?

    On a 'lighter' note:


    "The Stella Awards were inspired by Stella Liebeck. In 1992, Stella, then 79, spilled a cup of McDonald's coffee onto her lap, burning herself. A New Mexico jury awarded her $2.9 million in damages, but that's not the whole story. Ever since, the name "Stella Award" has been applied to any wild, outrageous, or ridiculous lawsuits..."

  3. valuable sheep [deleted] ages ago | reply

    I seem to recall a "study" that said that the US has 5% of the world population, 25% of the world economy, and 50% of the world's lawyers...

  4. Terry_Lea ages ago | reply

    There is a lawyers glut where I live in Dallas. Supposedly, we have more lawyers per capita than any place in the world. We also have the most divorces. Don't know if there is a connection or not. lol
    I thot the same thing about the wasp. I don't know why the wings are that way. It looks like they were melted almost. No, their wings do not normally look like that.

  5. jurvetson ages ago | reply

    I just went back to Dallas for a high school event, and it seemed like 70% of my classmates who still live in Dallas are lawyers.

  6. pmorgan ages ago | reply

    Nikon D70s user manual, pg iii: "When operating the diopter adjustment control with your eye to the viewfinder, care should be taken not to put your finger in your eye accidently."

  7. Sam Scholes ages ago | reply

    I've never read my D70 manual, thanks for letting me know about that warning Peter. ;)

  8. Matt Fitzwater-Stevens ages ago | reply

    Great photo, jurvetson. What a commentary on the U.S. legal system.

    That said...


    Am I the only person in the world who thinks that Stella Liebeck had a point? McDonald's served her a beverage that was intended to be poured into her gastrointestinal tract. When applied to her lap, it literally burned her skin. What if she actually had drunk it?

    There's a common-law legal concept called the "implied warranty of merchantability." It is an implicit statement by a product's maker that it is fit for its intended purpose. Coffee that inflicts major tissue damage pretty much violates that warranty, methinks.


  9. Sam Scholes ages ago | reply

    That may be, however coffee is brewed hot. If you've ever had a cup of coffee you understand it is hot. Stella Liebeck should have been more careful. Her careless isn't McDonalds' fault.

  10. jon|k ages ago | reply

    Cool shot--wanna add it to Instructional Drawings? :)

  11. awns42 ages ago | reply

    WARNING driver may get annoyed and throw you into the air!!!

  12. marypcb 56 months ago | reply

    So the McDonald's coffee suit is so frequently misunderstood there is a documentary on it that's worth tracking down. TL;DR the coffee was brewed with superheated steam to get more coffee from the beans. McD had been warned by several courts to warn customers that the serving temperature was well above normal drinking temperature. The judgement was punitive because McD persisted in unsafe actions.

  13. marypcb 56 months ago | reply

    16% coverage with third degree burns is more than normal hot coffee; the coffee was served at 180 degrees. Oh, and McDonald's knew of about 700 previous complaints of scalding when they declined to pay the difference between her medical insurance coverage and her skin graft bills. Maybe the awards should pick a less insulting name? www.citizen.org/hot-coffee

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