The devil you know: the dispute resolution professional in popular culture

Lawyers are frequent targets for humor, the butt of countless stale jokes. With the exception perhaps of  “Wedding Crashers“, conflict resolution professionals so far have been spared the ribbing that comedians, cartoonists, and screenwriters so often heap on our brothers and sisters at the bar.

That may be changing. My colleague, ombuds and blogger Tom Kosakowski, alerted his readers that Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, the popular comic strip that lampoons the workplace, has set his sights on an unsuspecting target: the corporate ombuds. In this week’s installment, Dilbert’s boss has hired an ombudsman, a pitch-fork-wielding demon who accepts souls in exchange for conferring favored treatment.

Although lawyers have been linked to devils before (as numerous jokes and at least one Hollywood film can attest), this is a first for the ombuds.

Is this a sign of the impending apocalypse? Hardly. As one anonymous commenter on Tom’s site observed, “Just getting the word ombudsman in cartoons raises awareness of our profession.” Or, as Oscar Wilde once put it, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”

5 responses to “The devil you know: the dispute resolution professional in popular culture

  1. Hi, Diane –

    I have to admit, I laughed out loud when I read the comic strip:
    “Go to Helen Fry.”

    Let’s hope Oscar Wilde was right. 🙂

    Take care.
    Debra Healy
    Healy Conflict Management Services

    • Debra, glad you enjoyed that! Steve, all I can say is, we mediators are in big trouble unless we can come up with some better jokes! 😉

  2. i think it is interesting to see that jokes are being made about mediators now. At least that shows that we are getting on people’s radar. Here is one that I found: Why did the mediator cross the road?

    I’m sorry, I can’t share that information with you unless the chicken authorises me to tell you.
    that was from Consenus mediation at

  3. Hmm, well people tell jokes at my expense often- is it soley because I am a mediator??? 😉

    lol, i tell people it’s fine- just make sure then it IS funny!

  4. I agree, as long as jokes are tasteful and not overly offensive then anything is fair game.