10 Ways Lawyers are Just Like Toddlers


girl-in-business-suitFor all our education, our training and our hard work – sometimes I can’t help but think that we really aren’t that different to a bunch of kids in a playground.

Certainly there are some similarities – I’ve listed my top 10 below. Got any more?

A Good Sense of Priorities

Most lawyers have an excellent sense of priority – when they need something done, it’s urgent and by far the most important thing that anyone else needs to care about.

When somebody else wants something – it can wait.

Keen Thoughts on Ownership

Frequently this comes up in relation to “ownership” of clients and interesting files, or sometimes offices. I think this set of rules for toddlers has it summed up in the legal world as well:

  1. If I want it, it’s mine
  2. If it’s in my hand, it’s mine
  3. If I can take it away from you, it’s mine
  4. If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine
  5. If it’s mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way
  6. If we are building something together, all the pieces are mine
  7. If it just looks like mine, it’s mine
  8. If I think it’s mine, it’s mine
  9. If I give it to you and change my mind later, it’s mine
  10. Once it’s mine it will never belong to anyone else, no matter what

Temper Tantrums

It can be disappointing when someone else gets the shiny thing that we had our eyes on, or someone promises us something that we didn’t get.

Bonuses, good work, referrals, seminars, pay rises – all of these and more can be a catalyst for a melt down (often in front of others).

A Pinch of Pride

When the senior lawyer tries to print something, and the printer stops working, there are a couple of solutions:

First – you could ask for help. Of course, that would involve admitting that you have no clue what’s going on, and don’t know where the paper is kept.

Second – walk away from the problem and assume someone can (and will) fix it while you’re not there – you can then come back later, pride intact, and your printing will have magically appeared.

Which one does your partner pick?

Perspective on Winning (and losing)

You know when you would play a game as a child, and everyone told you “it’s not about whether you win or lose, it’s about having fun”.

Unfortunately, most lawyers have lost the fun.

Which means – it has become about winning or losing.

And we don’t take losing well (see the section on tantrums).

Strong Opinions

Given the topic, ignorance does not stand in the way of a lawyer having an extremely strong opinion about most things.

It doesn’t need to be based on evidence. It doesn’t need to be correct.

It just needs the power of our conviction to argue for it until the other person gives up and gets us the lollipop that we wanted.

The Need for a Naughty Corner

Shockingly, we sometimes do things wrong.

We forget to get funds in trust.

We send a letter that we didn’t check properly.

Those times call for adequate punishment – sulking quietly by ourselves is normally called for, after a sufficient degree of verbal lashing from our superiors.

Playing in the Sandpit

We all like to play together, as a rule.

But, just like the sandpit, a few things will happen:

  1. Everyone will want to play with the same awesome toys;
  2. There will be little groups of kids who hang around together, and don’t interact with the opposite groups;
  3. Eventually someone comes and tells us that it’s time to go home.

The Popular Kid

There’s always the popular one, and the unpopular one. Sometimes more than one.

There are the lawyers who are good looking, smart and the quarterback of the football team.

Then there are the lawyers who spend their days in dark rooms playing video games and trying to save maidens from dragons.

Both fulfill essential roles in legal practice – but neither really understands the other that much.


Ever seen a secret in a law firm?

Yeah – me neither.

Happy Lawyering!