Survival Kit for Law Students and Families

1L of a Ride

Going to law school?  Have a loved one?

The "Companion Text" to Law School

1L of a Ride — McClurg’s classic law school prep book, assigned as recommended or required reading at law schools throughout the country.  Read the Amazon Reviews.

The “Companion Text” to Law School — The only book to prepare the loved ones of law students for the wild and crazy vortex into which they are about to be propelled.  Named an Amazon Editors’ Favorite Book of the Year!

Pictorial Warnings from Picturesque Italy

Sign from ItalyWe love pictorial warnings at, as shown here, here, here, here, here, here, and several other places.  Remember that the goal of a pictorial warning is to advise of risks or deliver instructions to persons who cannot read or understand the written warning.  So in trying to figure them out, you have to set aside the textual versions that usually accompany pictorial warnings.

Europe, with free travel among so many people of different cultures and languages, relies more heavily on pictorial warnings than the United States.

Here we have a sign from Italy with six pictorial warnings/instructions.  Which ones can you figure out without consulting the accompanying text?

Me?  Going left to right starting at the top row, I’d say:

1.  The first (no dumping trash on the ground) is reasonably clear.

2.  The second (no camping) is not clear. Maybe it could be used for “No public sex,” as it looks kind of like one person lying on top of another.  Just don’t see the camping angle.

3.  The third (no eating near monuments) may work, but it raises the question, “Why can’t you eat near monuments?”  Probably because: go back to number one.  Eaters leave trash.  But dilution of impact results with the proliferation of warnings and instructions.  The more there are, the less likely people pay attention to any of them.

4.  They could have done a better job with the fourth one (do not smear or deface).  The figure could be spraying bug repellant or air freshener or anything.  But more important, picture a person with a can of spray paint prepared to tag monuments.  He sees the sign.  Is it really going to change his mind?  “Oh, I didn’t know you weren’t allowed to deface the monuments with spray paint.  I came all the way out here for nothing.”

5.  In the fifth one (no bathing in fountains), I can’t get past laughing at the little doggie in the picture.  He’s really cute, but what is he doing there?  And the guy looks like he’s taking an actual bath.  The canine is probably there to indicate no dog-bathing in fountains, but it still cracks me up.

6.  The sixth one (do not go bare-chested in public) does not compute because the diagonal “do not ever this”-slash covers the entire image, which includes one person wearing a bathing suit top.  Looks more like “No hand-holding” or “No couples.”

So, maybe three out of six would be my scoring.  What do you think?

–Thanks to Pat Crowell.

Warning: No Protection in Texas from Dangerous Farm Animal Activities

Protection for Texas Farm Animal Professionals


From Texas comes this warning sign that:

A farm animal professional is not liable for an injury to or the death of a participant in farm animal activities resulting from the inherent risk of farm animal activities.

First, we notice the evolution of the term “professional” in modern society. Originally, there were only three professions: clergy, lawyers, and doctors. Over time, the number of groups laying claim to the title of a “professional” has expanded to include architects, engineers, pharmacists, et cetera. Add to that list “farm animal professionals.”

Not sure of the history of the referenced statute, but it would be interesting to see if the

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The Law School of Rock

Know any lawyers or law students who rock? Literally?

Encourage them to send in a short bio to with a description of the kind of music they play and a YouTube link to a live performance. We will be happy to post it. Few better stress relievers than music–and we all know lawyers and law students can use all the stress relief they can find.

While we await your responses, here’s a psychedelic nugget from the sixties as performed by my cover band, The Rants. Believe it or not, this band plays for tens of dollars in a single night! Don’t let the glitzy surroundings fool you. It’s hard

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Where the First and Second Amendments Intersect

Exercise your First and Second Amendment rights in the same place.

Exercise your First and Second Amendment rights in the same place.

Former student Ben Wilkins took a trip to Somerville, Tennessee to search through deeds from decades past. Now that’s genuine, old-fashioned lawyering.

While there, he snapped this picture, astutely noting that he’d found a place where one can exercise their First and Second Amendment rights at the same time.

–Thanks to Ben Wilkins.

Warning: Pacemakers and Chainsaws Bad Mix

Pacemakers and Chain Saws

The highlighted warning in this image sounds like a joke, but it’s part of a real set of FAQs on a pacemaker information site.

Overall, it’s good news. You can use a lawn mower and other power tools with a pacemaker, but not chainsaws:

Can I use a chainsaw?

Chainsaws are hard to operate at a safe distance from your chest pacemaker. They should be avoided altogether.

Hard to argue with the factual assertion. The user would either: (1) have to rip the pacemaker out of his chest and leave it in the house; (2) set the chainsaw up in the backyard,

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Spot the Tort: A Tortfeasor and Proud of It

Proud tortfeasor

Courtesy of a law student at St. Thomas law school in Minneapolis comes this drinking, phone-talking, smoking driver and proud tortfeasor. As the student explained:

Here’s a potential tort for you. I’m a law student at University of St. Thomas (Minneapolis). While driving through Iowa, I spotted a girl drinking a beer, smoking a cigarette and talking on the phone. When she saw me taking a picture, she even posed for me.

The ultimate in driving multitasking.

Everybody’s Gone Surfing, Even the Cats

sign 1

So I’m taking a pleasant walk along a Florida beachfront park and encounter this sign warning that it is a crime, punishable by up to one year in prison, to abandon cats in the park. I’m thinking, “That’s weird.”

Then I get to a second sign warning it is unlawful to feed or abandon cats or other animals. Unlawful to feed a cat? Wait a minute.

At this point, I’m thinking, “Aren’t we engaging in some serious overkill on the cat issue?”

But then I come to a third sign and go, “Uh-oh.” Did Tuggers run away to

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Share the Road … Or Else

Share the Road

From a golf course in Florida, comes this pair of signs.

The first one features a seemingly contented (despite having a decapitated head) golf-cart driver cruising along above a warning to “Share the Road.”

Twenty yards farther along we get a much more ominous sign. Same cart, but the driver has been “disappeared.” Did he fail to share the road?

An investigation is underway.


Breaking Bad–Canadian Judicial Version

Breaking Bad

Don’t think for a minute that Canadian judges can’t keep up with American judges when it comes to Strange Judicial Opinions. Wild and crazy judicial happenings in Canada are here, here and here.

Now comes a new hit TV series, I mean, an order in a divorce case, entered by Superior Court Justice Pazaratz, where the court analogized the parties’ ugly divorce to the hit television show, Breaking Bad. Excerpts from the order include:

1. Breaking Bad, meet Breaking Bad Parents.

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Children Sue Santa Claus; Jolly One Fights Back

Old Saint Nick

It’s the season to reprise those two holiday favorites from the Harmless Error vault:

Santa Suit — The children of the world file a class action lawsuit seeking redress for perceived grievances against the man in the red suit. (Caroline Kennedy selected this column for inclusion in her A Family Christmas anthology.)

Santa Strikes Back — Turns out the jolly one has his own issues about his Christmas job. Mightily ticked off, he files his own lawsuit.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays from!

Cartoon Scenarios that Made It to Court

Falling anvils can happen to anyone.

Thanks to legal humorist extraordinaire Randy Maniloff for a nice shout-out to as part of his recent article exploring cartoon accident clichés that found their way to the courthouse.

Exploding cigars, falling anvils, you name it. Turns out the experiences of Wile E. Coyote and Tom and Jerry also happen to ordinary people, and Randy cites the cases to prove it.

That’s one of the things we most appreciate about him. Like (and unlike so many purveyors of legal humor), Randy doesn’t circulate undocumented anecdotes that may or may not have really happened. He researches and provides

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People Sometimes Stuck Things in Justice Breyer’s Underwear

Justice Stephen Breyer

Justice Stephen Breyer

Ryan A. Malphurs conducted an interesting study of laughter in proceedings before the U.S. Supreme Court, following up on the work of Jerry Wexler for the New York Times. His entire article is must-reading for fans of legal humor, but this attention-grabbing opening excerpt from an oral argument in Safford Unified School District v. Redding certainly stands out:

Justice Breyer: In my experience when I was 8 or 10 or 12 years old, we did take our clothes off once a day, we changed for gym, okay? And in my experience, too, people did sometime stick things in my underwear–

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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Funny Law School Stories
For all its terror and tedium, law school can be a hilarious place. Everyone has a funny law school story. What’s your story?

Strange Judicial Opinions
Large collection of oddball and off-the-wall judicial opinions and orders.

Product Warning Labels
A variety of warning labels, some good, some silly and some just really odd. If you come encounter a funny or interesting product warning label, please send it along.

Tortman! Andrew J McClurg
Tortland collects interesting tort cases, warning labels, and photos of potential torts. Raise risk awareness. Play "Spot the Tort."

Weird Patents
Think it’s really hard to get a patent? Think again.

Legal Oddities
From the simply curious to the downright bizarre, a collection of amusing law-related artifacts.

Spot the Tort
Have fun and make the world a safer place. Send in pictures of dangerous conditions you stumble upon (figuratively only, we hope) out there in Tortland.

Legal Education
Collecting any and all amusing tidbits related to legal education.

Harmless Error
McClurg's twisted legal humor column ran for more than four years in the American Bar Association Journal.