The Official Lawyer’s Handbook

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The Official Lawyer's Handbook is a best-selling satire on law and lawyers written by the lawyer Daniel R. White, and originally published in the United States by Simon & Schuster in 1983. The Handbook was adapted and republished in Britain under the name The Queens Counsel Official Lawyers' Handbook, published by the Robson Press, an imprint of Biteback Publishing.


Public distrust of lawyers reached record heights in the United States after the Watergate scandal.[1] In the aftermath of Watergate, legal self-help books became popular among those who wished to solve their legal problems without having to deal with lawyers.[2] Lawyer jokes (already a perennial favorite) also soared in popularity in English-speaking North America as a result of Watergate.[3] In 1989, American legal self-help publisher Nolo Press published a 171-page compilation of negative anecdotes about lawyers from throughout human history.[4]


The Official Lawyer's Handbook described itself as "the ultimate guide to surviving a legal career". Tips included: "The Bar Exam - Thousands of morons have passed - so can you", "Partnership: you can make it, if you know what to kiss, and whose", and "Understanding what lawyers do - and how to stop them doing it to you".


The Official Lawyer's Handbook was a best-seller, ranking #1 on The Washington Post best seller list and #5 on the Publishers Weekly national list. Critical reviews were generally supportive. The Washington Post declared White “the legal profession’s court jester”[5] and credited him with having “helped launch the current wave of legal humor.”[6] It was described by Time magazine as a book which would "not win an award from the American Bar Association".[7]

Other editions[edit]

The Handbook was updated and re-printed in 1991 as Still the Official Lawyer’s Handbook,[8] It was also published in revised form in Britain in 1991, by Harriman House publishing, with Philip R. Jenks as co-author.[9] The UK edition was described by The Times as "one of the most irreverent, funny and perceptive books about the legal profession ever published".[10] In 2011, the Handbook was again adapted and republished in Britain under the name The Queens Counsel Official Lawyers' Handbook, by the Robson Press, with Alex Williams [11] as artist and co-author.[12]


  1. ^ Jerold Auerbach, Unequal Justice: Lawyers and Social Change in Modern America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1976), 301.
  2. ^ For examples of legal self-help books written by lawyers which concede that the profession has a bad image, see Mark H. McCormack, The Terrible Truth About Lawyers (New York: Beech Tree Books, 1987), 11; Kenneth Menendez, Taming the Lawyers (Santa Monica, CA, Merritt Publishing, 1996), 2; and Stuart Kahan and Robert M. Cavallo, Do I Really Need A Lawyer? (Radnor, PA: Chilton Book Company, 1979), 2.
  3. ^ Gayle White, "So, a lawyer, a skunk and a catfish walk into a bar...: No shortage of jokes," National Post, 27 May 2006, FW8.
  4. ^ Andrew Roth & Jonathan Roth, Devil's Advocates: The Unnatural History of Lawyers (Berkeley: Nolo Press, 1989), ix.
  5. ^ Saundra Torry, "Legal Profession’s Court Jester Sees No Bar to Humor," The Washington Post (Dec. 9,1991).
  6. ^ Ken Ringle, "Wit of Habeas Corpus," Style, p. 1,The Washington Post, (Aug. 30, 1989).
  7. ^ Time Magazine, 21 November 1983 Retrieved January 2012
  8. ^ under the Plume imprint of the New American Library, a division of Penguin Books USA Inc. ISBN 0-452-26694-7.
  9. ^ Daniel R. White & Philip R. Jenks, The Official Lawyer’s Handbook (Harriman House 1992). ISBN 1-897597-00-2. This edition was revised for a British audience, substituting local geographic, political and professional references where appropriate.
  10. ^ Original UK edition at
  11. ^ Mr. Williams, an Oxford-educated barrister-turned-film animator and cartoonist, has worked on countless feature films for American film companies, including Sony, Disney, Universal, Warner Bros. and Fox. His film credits include The Lion King and the last three Harry Potter movies. He is perhaps better known as the author of the cartoon strip Queen's Counsel, published in The Times (of London) since 1993, and collected in several popular volumes, including Lawyers Uncovered - Everything You Always Wanted to Know But Didn't Want to pay £500 an hour to find out and 101 Ways to Leave the Law.
  12. ^ Official Lawyer's Handbook at Retrieved January 2012

External links[edit]