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The publication of The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker (Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers 2004, $60, 656 pages) provides the occasion to gauge how cartoonists have served as hostile witnesses to lawyers’ doings. The book features 2,000 cartoons as well as two CDs with all 68,647 cartoons for real aficionados.) Cartoonists can be thought of as jurors-delivering their verdicts in pen and ink. Their views of lawyers yield a chronicle of the profession over the years. Consider a few highlights: A 1940 Peter Arno cartoon has a tuxedoed lawyer (with an old leather briefcase) seated by a tuxedoed curmudgeon, in front of a fireplace. The old-money client says, “Now read me the part again where I disinherit everybody.” A 1950 scene has bespectacled three-piece-suited lawyers pouring over volumes in a high-ceilinged, chandeliered library. Floor-to-ceiling shelves of law books surround them. Amid books piled and strewn about, one sighs, “What burns me up is that the answer is right here somewhere, staring us in the face.” Charles Addams, who was best known for his macabre humor and his depictions of the ominous, drew the pinstriped, pince-nezed, slightly rotund F.T. Griswold. In 1953, he had him aiming a patent client’s ray gun out his office window and huffing, “Death ray, fiddlesticks! Why, it doesn’t even slow them up.” My nonscientific survey revealed a few patterns: The cartooned lawyers that do have names seem to have formidable, venerable-sounding ones, and they don’t do “business casual.” And for decades, robed justices were all male. When a female judge presides in 1999, it’s divorce court: the bailiff charged with seating spectators asks, “Bride or groom?” Finally, a Lee Lorenz cartoon captures the modern angst among lawyers: the longing to do something other than lawyering. The scene is a very upscale urban apartment. A hostess introduces a guest to three attorneys clad in unlawyerlike garb: “Ed’s a lawyer slash actor, Ron’s a lawyer slash filmmaker, and Beverley’s a lawyer slash playwright.”

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