When Lawyers Deadpan

I’m a fan of lawyers with a sense of humor. In the New Yorker this week, civil-rights

lawyer Clive Stafford Smith says that such a thing can even be a necessity:

“If you take everything that the government does in earnest,”

he said, “you’ll slit your wrists. When you’re dealing with

an absurd system, you’ve got to point out the absurdities.”

Stafford Smith, of course, literally deals in life-and-death situations. The


lawsuit between Chris Flowers and Sallie Mae doesn’t rise to that level

of importance. But it’s still refreshing to see that the lawyers there are keeping

things in perspective. Gregory Corcoran has some

of the color from the latest hearing, but he doesn’t include my favorite

quotes of the day, which came after Flowers graciously

agreed to let Sallie Mae seek a different buyer.

"We’re happy to waive the covenants," Mr. Wolinsky told the court.

"They can shop [the company]. God bless ’em. They are waived here and


"Obviously, we’re thrilled," said Stephen Susman, attorney for Sallie

Mae, after the Flowers group agreed to drop their control rights.

It’s rare that you can just smell the sarcasm rising off the page like that

in a news story; props to the (anonymous) journalist for not belaboring the


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