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Two Bitches From Hell and a
Short, Fat Guy

by Eric Shackle, quoting Jay Powers

Eleven years ago, two women and one man founded a Denver law firm, Powers Phillips, using the slogan Two Bitches from Hell and a Short, Fat Guy. Today, theirs is a successful and highly respected "boutique" firm, whose website provides a barrel of laughs. In fact, it's one of the wittiest sites on the Net. Many other web surfers must enjoy its content, because it has scored more than 100,000 hits in the last three years.

The self-mocking site includes pages labelled Practice (?) Areas, Agonised Clients, Sleazeball Lawyers, Suspicious Awards, Other Hokey Stuff, Join the Party, and Obnoxious Disclaimer. Their home page sets the scene:

"Powers Phillips, P.C. [Professional Corporation] is a small law firm located in downtown Denver, Colorado within convenient walking distance of over fifty bars and a couple of doughnut shops.  Powers Phillips also maintains a small satellite office-in-exile on the cow-covered hillsides near Carbondale, Colorado, where it puts out to pasture some of its aging attorneys. The firm is composed of lawyers from the two major strains of the legal profession, those who litigate and those who wouldn't be caught dead in a courtroom.

"Litigation lawyers are the type who will lie, cheat and steal to win a case and who can't complete a sentence without the words 'I object' or 'I demand another extension on that filing deadline.' Many people believe that litigation lawyers are the reason all lawyers are held in such low esteem by the public. Powers Phillips, P.C. is pleased to report that only four of its lawyers, Trish Bangert, Tom McMahon, Tamara Vincelette, and JoAnne Zboyan are litigation lawyers, and only one of them is a man.

"Lawyers who won't be caught dead in a courtroom are often referred to in the vernacular as 'loophole lawyers,' underhanded wimps who use their command of legal gobbledygook to scam money from the unsuspecting, usually widows and orphans. Many people believe that such 'loophole lawyers' are the reason all lawyers are held in such low esteem by the public. Powers Phillips, P.C. is pleased to report that only four of its lawyers, Myra Lansky, Kathy Powers, Mary Phillips, and Jay Powers are such 'loophole lawyers' and one of them, Jay Powers, hardly does anything at all anyway so he doesn't really count.

"Lawyers who litigate and those who wouldn't be caught dead in a courtroom get along like cats and dogs. So we have to keep them in separate groups, as much as possible. (Even so, litigators, being essentially dog-like, will often creep over into the other group, trying to get away with some of their goodies.)

"Powers Phillips is somewhat peculiar in that three of its lawyers are, to put it most politely, uppity women, who through various shenanigans and underhanded schemes control the firm. However, this has not resulted in undue hardship on the male lawyers who are generously allowed a five minute coffee break every other day (so long as they continue to ponder client matters and continue billing accordingly)."

Here are a few facts about the two Bitches from Hell who founded the firm, extracted from their no-holds-barred website bios:

"Kathy Powers graduated from Vassar College in 1967. Since men were not admitted to Vassar at that time, she was able to get a serious education. It didn't take her long to spend all her family's money at Vassar. So she returned to her native Florida to attend law school at the University of Florida, which agreed to pay her to come, apparently confusing her with a football player.

"However, her presence in law school was a considerable shock to the old boys down there, not just because of her personal obnoxiousness but also because her maiden name happened to be Lawyer....  She [married] to change her name immediately.  She never understood that feminist stuff about keeping your maiden name. She thinks the whole purpose of getting married is to be able to change your name."

[Another attorney who changed his name was Natty Bumppo.]

After gaining a J.D. [Juris Doctor] degree with honors, she headed for Washington, D.C. to work for the Securities and Exchange Commission. Then, with a baby son, she returned to Florida, where she joined a major corporate law firm, which, "being almost exclusively male, lacked good judgment and soon elected her a partner.

"However, her oversized ego was still not satisfied, and when the University of Florida dangled a law professorship at her, she jumped at the bait, figuring two hundred or so law students cringing at her every whisper couldn't be all bad." Shortly afterwards, the University of Wisconsin law school invited her to do the same there.

After five years as a law professor, she found that the price of a good supply of new shoes had seriously outpaced her salary. So she headed for Denver, where in 1991 she founded a woman-owned law firm, now Powers Phillips, P.C.

Here's one more sidelight: "Ms. Powers has extended her unflagging (albeit somewhat bizarre) self-promotional efforts to the broadcast media, appearing as an example of an extremely idiotic lawyer on radio talk shows and on a national television talk show, The Maury Povich Show."

Mary Phillips graduated from Stanford in 1965. Seven years later, she became a staff member of the 1972 McGovern for President campaign. "This was heady stuff. Mary had been a cheerleader in high school and always felt she had what it takes to become a true bimbo. Now that she was in politics why not give true bimbohood a try? Sure enough, by 1974 she was a paid staff member of the Gary Hart for Senate campaign. You can imagine her disappointment when years later the Gary Hart for President campaign was derailed by shenanigans with an unpaid, volunteer bimbo.

"Mary became disenchanted with life as a political professional and reverted to life as a political groupie. She has been a die-hard political groupie ever since, serving in various capacities with the local Democratic Party. From the viewpoint of Powers Phillips this has been a total waste of time, since political parties, especially the Democratic Party in Colorado, are no longer a good source of graft, even on a small scale.

"Sometime in the late 70s it dawned on Mary that, unlike most political hacks, she was not a lawyer. By 1982 she had her law degree from the University of Denver and played it straight for awhile, putting in five years at Sherman & Howard, a big Denver bond firm, churning out tax-exempt bonds for cities and hospitals.

"Later, like many other women, she was strongly moved by the movie Thelma & Louise, which led her to form, with Kathy Powers, the renegade woman owned law firm, Powers Phillips, using the slogan Two Bitches from Hell and a Short, Fat Guy. Mary is married to Steve Phillips, the notorious gourmet chef and 'Judge from Hell' of the Denver District Court."

Under the heading Suspicious Awards, the firm says "We're mighty proud that the University of Denver College of Law recently awarded Mary Phillips its Alumni Professionalism Award, but if they think they're going to get a big contribution out of her, not to mention us, just by giving her some silly little award, they're crazy... Ms. Phillips should not be disqualified from receiving this award merely on the grounds that she is a bag lady..."

James L. Powers'  bio is captioned He Could Have Been A Crooked Politician. It says "He was educated... in Perry, Florida, a pulp mill town deep in the heart of the pine woods and swamps of North Florida. He worked himself through school by means of a job in the local moonshine industry, where he developed an unfortunate, life-long addiction to sugar... Since then he has been unable to go anywhere without a bag of jelly doughnuts.

"After high school, he attended Yale University (BA, 1966), which, at that time, to his surprise, did not admit women (stupid Yankees). He had to resort to prowling the bars of Poughkeepsie, New York, a nearby town with a women's college.

"Finally, he picked up one, a young woman with a weird name, Kathy Lawyer, who shared his redneck, poor white trash North Florida heritage (note: that does not mean they are brother and sister) and a great love of whiskey.

"Believing he might have what it takes to become a crooked politician, he then attended the University of Florida College of Law (JD, 1969), a rats nest of crooked politician wannabes. There he realized his old flame, Kathy Lawyer, was in big trouble because of her name, what with all the law professors picking on her.

"Mr. Powers, being what we now call a sensitive new age kind of guy, immediately recognized this was causing his friend considerable discomfort. He gallantly offered to marry her so that she could change her name to his and never be called on again.  And that is exactly what happened. They rode off into the sunset together, skipping classes to share bottles of cheap scotch, not to mention a few chocolate covered doughnuts. They have been doing so ever since, just increasing the quantities.

"Upon reflection, Mr. Powers decided that he had a much brighter future as a crooked lawyer than as a crooked politician. He was, after all, short of stature and showing the effects of years of jelly doughnut consumption. Thus he was unlikely to attract the discrete young bimbos so necessary to the political life. And anyway he was married now, and his new wife had all the tolerance of such matters as Lorena Bobbit, without the restraint.

"Since that fateful decision, Mr. Powers has worked, more or less, as a lawyer for the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C. in national advertising regulation, of all things, and as the proprietor of a divorce mill in Jacksonville, Florida.

"He has finally found his niche as a Denver lawyer for business and healthcare clients who share his mental impairment. This is, of course, not a large group, which gives him plenty of time to work on his memoirs and, more often, to hang out at the local bars.  However, Mr. Powers is not presently enrolled in any alcohol or drug rehabilitation clinic.

"If anyone should have any thought of retaining Mr. Powers as a lawyer, we would suggest you first consult a good psychiatrist. You can be helped."

Between 1991 and 1996, " when sufficient funds are available and the writers are sober," Powers Phillips published six issues of a hilarious newsletter, The Bitches From Hell Reporter. which fortunately are archived for posterity.

Not surprisingly, the BFH website captured the attention of numerous earnest web surfers, who asked such cerebral FAQs as:

  • How Do You Work With Token Males Without Going Completely Nuts?
  • Should a Bitch from Hell Color Her Hair?
  • How Do You Fend Off All the Paparazzi Buzzing Around You?
  • Why Are Hemlines Getting Shorter While Shoes Are Getting Clunkier?

all of which produced witty replies from the self-styled bitches.

On a slightly more serious note, the firm says "Prospective clients should be assured that the woman-controlled nature of the firm in no way lowers the quality of legal services. Indeed, Powers Phillips' slogan from the very founding of the firm has been 'We're every bit as incompetent as any male-owned firm.'"

Just in case any of its visitors don't understand satire, the Bitches From Hell homepage carries this warning panel:


This homepage is intended to be a joke. Other parts of this website are also intended to be jokes. However, as a public service to enable our readers to determine whether or not they are complete idiots, we have also included a bunch of boring, serious material without a joke in sight. If you can tell the difference, you are not a complete idiot. Just to show we are not totally heartless, we will give you a little hint to help you with this test: if your eyes start to glaze over, it's the serious, boring stuff. Good luck.

* You should visit the marvelous Powers Phillips website. Be sure to read the official announcement of the formation of their firm in 1991. Permission to quote extensively from the website is gratefully acknowledged.

For a story about another offbeat attorney, named Natty Bumppo, click HERE

Copyright 2002   Eric Shackle   Story first posted April 2002

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