Lawyer jokes aren’t just good for a laugh — they can tell us much about the state of the legal profession. In researching my new book, “Lowering the Bar: Lawyer Jokes and Legal Culture,” I found that the preeminent subject of jokes set in large law firms is the tension between older partners and younger associates. Stories about how partners exploit associates — and how junior attorneys turn the tables on their senior colleagues — have been around for a long time. But the burgeoning growth of large firms has given them a new significance. Consider the following joke:

A paralegal, an associate, and a partner of a prestigious New York law firm are walking through Central Park on their way to lunch when they find an antique oil lamp. They rub it and a genie comes out in a puff of smoke.

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