Abbott Costello LLP

Jun 10, 2019 12:43:00 PM | Michael Marget

I was in Philadelphia recently, corner at 17th & Market Street, and overheard the following conversation. The two guys had to be lawyers:

Lawyer 1: Hey, Bud. Congratulations! Heard you just changed law firms.

Lawyer 2: You heard right. Last week I started at Abbott Costello LLP.

Lawyer 1: Huh? I’m not familiar with them. Who is the Managing Partner?

Lawyer 2: Who.

Lawyer 1: Who is the Managing Partner?

Lawyer 2: Yeah, he is.

Lawyer 1: Who is? Who’s the Managing Partner?

Lawyer 2: A really visionary guy.

Lawyer 1: Who is a really visionary guy?

Lawyer 2: The Managing Partner.

Lawyer 1: I’m simply asking you, who is the Managing Partner?

Lawyer 2: That’s the guy’s name.

Lawyer 1: Who’s name?

Lawyer 2: Yes.

Lawyer 1: Well, go ahead and tell me.

Lawyer 2: That’s it. Who is the Managing Partner.

Lawyer 1: That’s who?

Lawyer 2:Yes.

PAUSE

Lawyer 1: Look, the law firm must have a Managing Partner.

Lawyer 2: Of course.

Lawyer 1: And when the firm has a partners’ meeting, who chairs the meeting?

Lawyer 2: Who.

Lawyer 1: The guy convening the meeting.

Lawyer 2: That’s Who.

Lawyer 1: I’m asking you!

SECOND PAUSE

Lawyer 1: One more time. What is the name of the Managing Partner?

Lawyer 2: No, What heads up the Litigation Department

Lawyer 1: I’m not saying who’s head of Litigation.

Lawyer 2: Good, because Who is the Managing Partner.

Lawyer 1: I don’t know.

Lawyer 2: She handles all the appellate work argued at the Third Circuit.

Lawyer 1: How did we start talking about Third Circuit?

Lawyer 2: Well, you mentioned the name.

Lawyer 1: Okay, if I did mention the Third Circuit, I said it was who?

Lawyer 2: Who is Managing Partner?

Lawyer 1: That was my original question! WHAT’S THE NAME OF THE MANAGING PARTNER?

Lawyer 2: Who is the Managing Partner?

Lawyer 1: I don’t know.

Lawyer 2: She’s Third Circuit.

Lawyer 1: Great, we’re back at the Third Circuit again! 

ANOTHER PAUSE

Lawyer 1: Okay, let’s stay at the Third Circuit.

Lawyer 2: Sure, what do you want to know?

Lawyer 1: Who does Third Circuit appeals?

Lawyer 2: Why do you insist on putting Who at the Third Circuit ?

Lawyer 1: What? Who?

Lawyer 2: What is Litigation. Who is the Managing Partner.

Lawyer 1: I don’t know!

TOGETHER: THIRD CIRCUIT!

FOURTH PAUSE

Lawyer 1: Forget all that…. I’m happy for you. Good luck at the new firm. Maybe one of your new guys can help me out. I have a client, with deep pockets, that has an ERISA problem way out of my league. If I referred this to somebody at your new firm, how soon might I expect to receive a definitive answer to a complex ERISA question?

Lawyer 2: I will need to check with one of our ERISA lawyers; probably Never or possibly Longer.

Lawyer 1: That sounds about right.

 

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello did it best. There have been other variations including the scene in Airplane!, the 1980 movie that riffed a conversation between Captain Oever and co-pilot Roger Murdock speaking one another’s names with the acknowledging responses “over” and “roger.” My personal favorite: Dodgers’ announcer Vin Scully doing the play-by-play for a Diamondbacks vs. Dodgers baseball game in September 2017 when rookie shortstop Chin-lung Hu got his first hit, a single, and Scully said, “Shades of Abbott and Costello, I can finally say, ‘Hu is on first.’”

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Law Firm Management

Michael Marget

Mike Marget is an erstwhile large law firm manager with tours of duty as COO at Katten Muchin, Jenner & Block and CFO at Holland & Knight, among others. He’s currently president of 4L Law Firm Services which provides accounting, bookkeeping and related back office services to small/midsize law firms and co-CEO of NSource, LLC, a law firm consultancy. His blog, Law Firm CFO, is dedicated to every law firm manager who has ever asked the question, “Why me?”
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