Japan, with just over 120 million people, has only 12,500 lawyers. The United States, with 250 million people, has 750,000 lawyers. Does that give you a clue?

In the words of Frederick Leber in a recent issue of Anti-Shyster, an irate newspaper published in Dallas, "America has the most expensive (for the people) and the most lucrative (for attorneys) legal system in the world."According to Leber it takes 100 times more money and 17 times as long to probate an estate in the United States as it does in England, which has, on a per capita basis, five times fewer lawyers than the United States.

Attorney-bashing now rivals Japan-bashing as a favorite pastime in America. Indeed, it's hard to resist as attorneys, laws and litigation all seem to be proliferating. Everybody, it seems, has his own horror story. My favorite is the lady who discovered that the longtime family lawyer had billed them for attending her mother's funeral while probating the estate.

There are, of course, good things to be said for lawyers, and if you will give me a little time, I'll think of one. A lawyer is an argument-maker-for-hire and sometimes you surely need one, especially since we were so foolish as to outlaw dueling. Now there was an inexpensive dispute resolution system that not only kept the court dockets clear but also contributed to population control. People who lose in court live to sue and be sued again but few people who lost a duel were ever in another.

We now take our disputes into court where they achieve near immortality and the opposing parties develop a voracious appetite for money. I am actually optimistic, however, that the situation of proliferating lawyers will eventually remedy itself.

It's only a matter of time before the only deep pockets left in our society will be those of lawyers, at which point they will begin to sue each other and will probably destroy the legal profession in the process.

At any rate, societies need groups to hate and better lawyers than journalists, though to tell the truth, the two vocations are nip-and-tuck in the race for most public scorn in a public role.

Besides, it's a harmless kind of hate as both lawyers and journalists are arrogant enough to take it and generally view criticism as irrefutable evidence of the critic's stupidity and ignorance.

I haven't had any bad experiences with lawyers, but I am amused by almost everything these days, including the proliferation of lawyers and lawyer-bashers. It's better than a war and most of the other stuff on TV.