Depictions of high-mojo lawyers in popular culture (vol. 2 art. 2): My Attorney Bernie

21 Sep 17
There aren't many songs in which lawyers are portrayed in a positive light.

At best, lawyers are mentioned in order to depict someone in dire straits and desperate for legal help. Warren Zevon's Lawyers, Guns & Money (1978) is probably the best representative of this:

Now I'm hiding in Honduras
I'm a desperate man
Send lawyers, guns and money
The shit has hit the fan.


At worst, lawyers are scapegoats for all of society's ills. In 1985, folk signer Tom Paxton, in the song One Million Lawyers, predicted (rather accurately) that in ten years America would have one million lawyers, and lamented, "How much can a poor nation stand?"

The song My Attorney Bernie is a delightful exception. Composed in 1983 by Dave Frishberg, the song describes a client's genuine admiration and gratitude for his lawyer, and how, "if Bernie says we sue, we sue ... if Bernie says we sign, we sign":

I'm impressed
With my attorney Bernie
I'm impressed
With his influential friends
 
He's got very big connections
And I follow his directions
Bernie knows his way around
And so I always do what Bernie recommends
 
I am blessed
With my attorney Bernie
I'm impressed
With the way he runs the store
 
He's got Dodger season boxes
And an office full of foxes
It's amazing all the different things
Your average guy might need a lawyer for
 
Bernie tells me what to do
Bernie lays it on the line
Bernie says, we sue, we sue
Bernie says, we sign, we sign
 
I'm in touch
With my attorney Bernie
In a clutch
He can speed right to the scene
 
And if I'm locked up in the jail
With just one phone call for my bail
He said to call his club collect
Or deal directly with his answering machine
 
And when I dine
With my attorney Bernie
He buys wine
From the rare imported rack
 
That's 'cause Bernie is a purist
And not your polyester tourist
Bernie waves the glass around awhile
Then takes a sip and always sends it back
 
Bernie tells me what to do
Bernie lays it on the line
Bernie says, we sue, we sue
Bernie says, we sign, we sign
 
I admire
My attorney Bernie
I admire
Any guy who knows his stuff
 
Sure we blew a couple ventures
With a counterfeit debentures
But you win a few, you lose a few
Like Bernie says, "You keep on hanging tough"
 
Thanks to you
My attorney Bernie
Thanks to you
I'm considered well to do
 
Sure I made out like a bandit
Just exactly like you planned it
But like Murray, my accountant
Told me yesterday, I owe it all to you.
 
Bernie tells me what to do
Bernie lays it on the line
Bernie says, we sue, we sue
Bernie says, we sign, we sign
 
On the dotted line.


One of the better renditions of this song is here, by the late Blossom Dearie, delivered with her trademark light and girlish style. Enjoy.
 
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