THE LAWYERS WEEKLY
April 1, 2011 | 25
On April Fools’ Day there is a decision to make: whether to pull a prank or
play it safe.
There certainly is cause for caution.
“Given that many lawyers are stretched
thin, there may be less tolerance for
activities that are viewed as potential
distracters including April Fools’ jokes,”
said John Ohnjec, division director of
Robert Half Legal in Ottawa.
The office environment may also not
be conducive to tomfoolery, he noted.
“When it comes to office pranks, it’s
important that professionals be sensitive to corporate culture. Corporate cultures differ significantly, so there are no
hard-and-fast rules when it comes to
what is and isn’t acceptable regarding
“In a small firm where people know
each other, relationships are well established, and a few pranks are part of the
norm, it may be acceptable. However,
large corporate law firms take their business seriously, time is money and wasting it is not something usually promoted.
A person would be ill advised to initiate
a prank unless the management was in
full agreement,” said etiquette expert
Louise Fox, Toronto-based owner of the
Etiquette Ladies and MannersTV.com,
an online video etiquette training website for business.
It’s important to understand the
impact of a prank, she added. “The fact
is no one really enjoys being made a fool
of…Any sort of activity which makes
people feel stupid, awkward or hurts
their feelings is ill advised, inconsiderate
and perhaps even disrespectful. In some
instances, it might be considered bully-
ing or harassment.”
To reduce the chances of offending
anyone and hurting your own reputation
See Pranks Page 29
To fool or not to fool
According to a survey conducted last year by
The Creative Group, a placement firm based in
Toronto, April Fools’ pranks may not be suitable
attire for the office. Nearly six out of ten marketing
executives interviewed said such shenanigans
were inappropriate. Only four percent felt high
jinks were “very appropriate” while 33 percent
said they were “somewhat appropriate.”
Heavy workloads may have something to do
with the disinclination to dupe co-workers, Lara
Dodo, vice president for The Creative Group’s
Canadian operations said in a release
announcing the survey results. The more work
on the plate, the less appetizing is a joke that
takes up valuable time.
RTIMAGES / ISTOCKPHOTO.COM
This April Fools’ Day pull a prank with panache— and
professionalism. Here are the do’s and don’ts of showing
your funny side, according to John Ohnjec, division director
of Robert Half Legal in Ottawa.
Joke with care. No matter how well you think you know
a colleague, refrain from joking about potentially sensitive
subjects such as age, race, or gender. Also, steer clear of
sarcastic remarks; these can be easily misconstrued.
Laugh with others. You can be perceived as having a
great sense of humour without ever telling a joke if you
The joke’s on you
Here are few April Fools’ Day pranks that pass
muster for playing on colleagues.
For whom the bell tolls. Download a ring tone
that’s sure to embarrass. Bodily functions are
favorites. You can leave the phone in a corner
of a meeting room for general hilarity, or hide it
under the chair of someone for a more pointed
punch line. You might want to make sure the
senior partner doesn’t use that chair, however.
Exit and egress. If your office has two
entrances, place a “Use Other Door” sign at both
of them. First thing in the morning is a good time,
before colleagues settle into their chairs for the
day and before clients start arriving.
Hold your drawers. If you work in an
office where someone’s desk drawers are
interchangeable, it’s a good way to leave
them scratching their heads when they go
to reach for extra paper and find paper clips
and staples instead.
tune in to the humour styles of those around you and
share in the fun.
Poke fun at your foibles. This can put others at ease,
and you reduce the risk of offending someone by making
them the butt of your joke. You’ll also come across as
someone who is easily approachable and fun to be
around, facilitating open communication and a positive
Exercise good judgment. Only use humour when
appropriate, and err on the side of caution.
JOKE BY ARMAN ZHENIKEYEV / DREAMSTIME.COM, AIR HORN BY HDCONNELLY / DREAMSTIME
Punch lines Halifax comedian Tony Quinn gets serious with The Lawyers Weekly about April Fools’ Day.
Q: How important is having fun in the office?
A: It is of the utmost importance, as long as Silly
String is the main ingredient.
Q: Are pranks acceptable in the office?
A: Pranks are a human pastime and one of the
things that distinguish us from other mammals,
Q: What is considered too much?
A: When live farm animals or
air horns are used.
Q: Have you ever played a great April Fools’ joke?
A: Yes, I did, but I was late executing it and didn’t
get the joke finished until May. By the time I got
around to it, I was fired.
Request for Proposals
Constitutional Law, Judicial Independence,
Remuneration Commission, Representation, Legal Challenges, Compensation
The Association of Justices of the Peace of Ontario invites interested
and qualified firms to submit proposals. Details of the RFP can be
found at www3.sympatico.ca/ddudar/AJPO