Snarky lawyerly curmudgeons have gained a lot of respect lately, and for good reason. They are sharp, witty, and can call attention to their arguments with strategic misspellings. Plus, being a big blowhard can reap unexpected rewards, like an increased Twitter reputation or the aura of being a tough-as-nails experienced lawyer. Here are some tips to consider if you are considering moving toward the snarky curmudgeon niche, a surprisingly growing niche within the law.
Berate Anyone With Whom You Remotely Disagree. This is key advice. If you write a blog, for instance, and someone remotely disagrees with you, lay into the commenter and don’t hold back. If you hold back, you will be considered weak and effeminate, even if you are– as most curmudgeons are– weak and effeminate. Don’t have good snark? No problem. Just look around at some of the top blogs. We actually spent a few minutes culling some of the best hard-hitting snark out there from a single blog (and its comments) and have reproduced them here for your use, royalty-free:
There are enough scummy lawyers like you who have neither pride nor desire for excellence.
I pity any client who has someone who thinks like your [sic] represent him. As for the rest of us, don’t be so arrogant as to project your embrace of failure.
In a post where the point is nearly impossible to miss, you have manage [sic] to do so completely.
I take it that, in real life, you are not used to be [sic] challenged.
You aren’t only a narcissist, but your [sic] dumb as well.
Your critical thinking skills may not be quite as well developed as they should be, thus explaining both the odd reasoning and odd lack of reasoning. Maybe you just spend too much time with children?
As you can see, spelling and punctuation are not critical, just as they are not critical for people who comment on YouTube. Just get the snarky comment out there and hit it hard and hit it fast, especially before anyone catches on that you are a tad bit insecure. Program your browser or word processor to autocorrect the term “snark” with one of your favorite snarkicisms. That will help with efficiency, though that’s not generally a well-developed trait of the curmudgeon.
Consider Yourself Above Any Possible Reproach. You are right and make no mistakes. Just repeat that as you write a blog post or respond to any comments or telephone calls. Not much more to it than that, particularly if you are successful in inculcating this critical component into your daily gestalt. Makes for good lawyering, too, except when you are wrong. Wait, repeat.
Think of Yourself as an Elder Among Infants. Referring to anyone remotely younger than you as a baby or infant is key to being a snarky curmudgeon. Actually, it works well for older colleagues or your own cohorts. And it works if you disagree with someone. Hell, it just works. Despite anti-bullying efforts, curmudgeons know that sticks and stones work well, as do insults typically reserved for a preschool classroom. To bring it up to a more mature level of discourse, though, use “snot” instead of “booger.”
Deny That You Mean Something When You Really Do. This is key to being a successful snark and curmudgeon. It’s called the “art of the proper preface” and goes something like this. “And lest I be misunderstood, which is infrequent, I’ve seen just as many male lawyers as female lawyers breastfeed their kids and deal with PMS, bad periods, menopause and discrimination while practicing law. It’s just that female lawyers seem to think these things only apply to them, which makes them babies and infants.”
With just these few tips and by studying some of the best and most successful snarking lawyers out there, you can move your online and offline reputation to a different level. We’re not sure if that level is higher or lower, but at least you’re moving in a direction, and that seems to count for a lot.