After seeing this line by F. Scott Fitzgerald—“He repeated to himself an old French proverb that he had made up that morning”—I got to thinking about making up my own proverbs, just not old French ones. I selected traditional proverbs and reworked them to reveal a general truth or bit of advice about the legal profession. I’ve called them “hyproverbs.” (The first two letters of my surname attached to “proverbs.”) I present 50 examples of hyproverbs as that is all that fits on this page.
01. A client comes in like a lion, and out like a lamb.
02. A file divided is made lighter.
03. A lawyer’s laptop is mightier than the Library of Congress.
04. A lawsuit of five-thousand days begins with a file stamp.
05. A lawsuit is known by its facts.
06. A poor lawyer blames the judge.
07. Absence makes the case grow harder.
08. Bad cases make hard work.
09. Barking lawyers should muzzle themselves.
10. Better to carry one portable charger than curse the blank screen.
11. Briefs expand to fill the word count.
12. Civility is a virtue.
13. Do a good deed, do pro bono.
14. Don’t count your fees before they’re paid.
15. Don’t slight the client who pays the bill.
16. Every contract has its fine print.
17. Every lawyer thinks their counsel is best.
18. Facts are a lawyer’s best friend.
19. For want of a fact a claim was lost.
20. Fortune favors the prepared.
21. Give a lawyer a case, and you feed at least two lawyers and one judge.
22. Good things come to lawyers who aren’t late.
23. Hell has no fury like a malicious lawyer.
24. If at first you don’t succeed, amend.
25. If Fortune calls, take the case.
26. If it ain’t the truth, don’t offer it.
27. If the robe fits, still check that your name is on the collar.
28. If you can’t beat them, settle.
29. It takes a whole firm to make an associate.
30. Justice is in the eyes of the beholder.
31. Lawyers propose, judges dispose.
32. Like partner, like associate.
33. Lie down with one boorish lawyer, two boorish lawyers get up.
34. Liars and lawyers need good memories.
35. Necessity is the mother of contracts.
36. Nothing comes to lawyers who wait.
37. Rewrite makes right.
38. Plan to win, prepare to lose.
39. Practice what you know.
40. The other side’s position looks easier than yours.
41. The road to hell is paved with motions for sanctions.
42. The squeaky lawyer gets the judge’s ire.
43. Think before speaking and whilst speaking, still think.
44. When in court, follow the standing order.
45. When a lawyer gets tough, their case must be bad.
46. Where there’s smoke, there’s a possible lawsuit.
47. Your bad arguments will elevate their good arguments.
48. You can’t teach an old lawyer new procedures.
49. You win more concessions with reason than demands.
50. A hyproverb is worth a thousand words, give or take a few