A man murders his father and his mother and is prosecuted for both crimes. He is hauled up in front of the judge and pleads guilty. When it comes to sentencing, he begs for mercy because he is an orphan. That is the classic explanation of what constitutes chutzpah.

If you are looking for other examples of chutzpah, you may be able to find them in the legal profession.

There is the everyday chutzpah of Banks asking the Borrower’s lawyers to provide a legal opinion that the Bank’s documents are valid, binding, and enforceable, and then charging the Borrower for the legal fees incurred to argue about it.

There is the once in a career chutzpah like the Big Law lawyer who tried to convince me, in front of my client, that I was being unreasonable for refusing to provide a formal opinion that all of the representations and warranties made by my client in an agreement of purchase and sale were true.

There is the “I can’t believe this guy” chutzpah, like the senior law firm partner with a huge client base who left his firm on short notice for a job in industry, leaving his partners scrambling to figure out if the firm would survive.  Then he framed a ten by twelve glossy of himself and sent it to his old firm, demanded that the picture be put up in the boardroom, and made a veiled threat that business which he had been referring from his new company might stop coming in if the picture was not hung up, and pronto.

A few years later, the same “I can’t believe this guy” fellow set up his own consulting practice and asked the firm to provide him with free office space and administrative support on the premise that he could refer business, and his presence at the firm would be good for their reputation.  He started the discussion by saying, “Now I wouldn’t say that you guys owe me something, but ….” 

Then there was the partner who constantly tried to focus the compensation discussion on gross revenue but always said, “nothing to see here” when the conversation turned to the excessive overheads required to generate that revenue.

The list goes on and on. Big egos are fertile ground for breeding chutzpah, and those abound in law firms.

Finally, there is the guy who writes half an article and expects his readers to finish the article by providing more examples of chutzpah in the comments. He may be the worst of all, wanting credit for writing the article without being willing to do the work required to finish it.

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