The “Comic” Element in Legal Briefs

Sample page of the amicus curiae
brief in the form of a cartoon 

Here is something that I have never seen or heard of before: an amicus curiae brief in the form of a cartoon that was submitted in connection with an Apple antitrust case. I found out about it at Legal BlogWatch where Bruce Carton described who created it and why. The attorneys wanted the court to pay attention to their document, and I’ve gotta say that they’ve succeeded not only in getting the court’s attention, but a lot more publicity than they ever would’ve gotten by just following the usual procedures.

I often joke that when I work with law firms, what they consider a legal brief is actually not brief at all; they can choke a camel with it because it’s so big. Amicus curiae briefs are usually not that long, but sometimes attorneys create a document that is more massive than is necessary, something that the court might not take the time to analyze.

The attorneys who decided to add a cartoon to their brief in the Apple case are creative and innovative because they took a document that’s considered mundane and even boring, and got a lot of attention for it.

I just wonder if we’re going to see copycats from now on. But it just goes to show that boring documents don’t have to lead to boring communication plans. I’m sure you can take a paper clip and make it famous by just doing something really unique and different.

If Michael Jackson Could Have Been as Lucky as Jesse Jackson Jr.

One big news story is about Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. and his lengthy absence while he deals with all his problems. I read the Chicago Sun-Times story, “Despite federal probe, mental illness,Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. expected to be re-elected,” by reporters Natasha Korecki and Art Golab, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. Jesse Jr. has had an affair, is being investigated for questionable financial activities with Rod Blagojevich and his own funds, and is dealing with bipolar disorder and other personal problems. Other than a recorded phone call to his constituents, he hasn’t really communicated with them and has not been seen publicly for several months. You’d think this would be a public relations disaster, but amazingly, it isn’t. According to the Sun-Times, he has a good chance of being reelected.

It sounds like a joke, and he’s the one laughing because everything he’s doing is counter-intuitive to the public relations process. Usually bad news, affairs, and even questionable criminal activity lead to a bad reputation, but it’s working for him. So the joke’s on us, right?

I’m still scratching my head, but I still won’t give anyone advice to not care nor to use him as an guide. He’s still an example of what not to do, and he’s just very lucky. Very, very lucky. I’m sure a lot of other people in his position would have to go into crisis communications mode, but he has his supporters, and there are even people defending him to the media.

I wonder how long his luck will last. I’m still not laughing, and I will certainly not do what he’s doing, or suggest that to anyone else. The “high road” sometime gets lonely, yet it’s the best way to travel.