A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from August 28, 2014
“Criminal Law: See bad people at their best; Family Law: See good people at their worst”

Criminal lawyers and family lawyers have a popular saying:

“Criminal lawyers see bad people at their best, and divorce lawyers see good people at their worst.”

It’s not known who first came up with the saying. “The familiar saying that ‘divorce attorneys see good people at their worst’ is certainly true” was cited in print in 1993. “There is a saying that criminal courts see bad people at their best and family courts see good people at their worst” was cited in print in 1996.


Google Books
Family Advocate
Section of Family Law, American Bar Association
Volume 16
1993
Pg. ?:
The familiar saying that “divorce attorneys see good people at their worst” is certainly true.

Google Books
Family Law
By Ransford Comstock Pyle
Albany, NY: Delmar Publishers; Rochester, NY: Lawyers Cooperative Pub.
1994
Pg. 10:
“Good People at their Worst”
There is an old saying in divorce law to the effect that divorce attorneys see “good people at their worst.”

Google Books
May/June 1995, Tampa Bay (FL) magazine, “Coping with You Spouse’s Anger” by N. David Korones, pg. 74:
There is an old expression among lawyers and judges, that in divorce cases the system sees good people at their worst.

Google Books
One Hundred and One Plus Practical Solutions for the Family Lawyer:
Sensible Answers to Common Problems

By Gregg M. Herman
Chicago, IL: Section of Family Law, American Bar Association
1996
Pg. 1:
There is a saying that criminal courts see bad people at their best and family courts see good people at their worst.

Google Groups: alt.support.divorce
irony
big_da...@my-deja.com
1/2/01
(...)
I am reminded of my lawyer’s description about practicing law - he said “Criminal lawyers see bad people at their best, and divorce lawyers see good people at their worst....”

Google Books
The Affective Assistance of Counsel:
Practicing Law as a Healing Profession

By Marjorie A. Silver
Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press
2007
Pg. 260:
There is much truth in the aphorism that criminal lawyers see bad people at their best, while family lawyers see good people at their worst.

Google Books
The Long Way Home:
The Powerful 4-Step Plan for Adult Children of Divorce

By M. Gary Neuman
Hoboken, NJ: Wiley
2013
Pg. 215:
Family judges are fond of the saying “In criminal court, we see bad people at their best. In family court, we see good people at their worst.”

Kansas.com
5 questions with Don Lambdin
BY CARRIE RENGERSTHE WICHITA EAGLE
08/27/2014 5:10 PM 08/27/2014 5:17 PM
Thursday is Don Lambdin’s last day in court, at least as a family law attorney.
(...)
A. You know, the old saying is if you are handling criminal cases, you see bad people at their best, and when you’re in the family law area in divorce cases, you see good people at their worst, which I think is probably true.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Thursday, August 28, 2014 • Permalink