It is a good 'ol Texas expression that is intended to express dynamically the repugnance of an idea or occurrence.
It stands for an unwelcomeness and unpopularity of something. Yet, despite the stultifying effect such a concept is expected to have, somehow we still find ourselves with the possibility of the turd in the punch bowl if we do not focus on that mental picture of the possibility.
Call it a lead balloon or raining on the parade, but somehow those are more tolerable expressions and images than the turd in the punch bowl. Sure it is meant to be a conversation-stopper, and to lead to a degree of awkwardness or embarrassment. It is a statement that is meant to change the dynamic of the conversation when people are too ready to discount the other less inappropriate warnings.
In the practice of law, with all of the punch bowl imagery of success and satisfaction, the turd that spoils the enjoyment of the practice is overhead and the decisions that will lead an attorney to incurring overhead.
Yet, overhead is what new attorneys or those entering private practice seem to crave. Undoubtedly, this is because they focus too intently on the punch bowl and ignore the prospect and the discomfort of finding the turd where it ought not to be.
Attorneys do so in a number of ways. They crave image. They crave the respect they perceive with the trappings of success. They wish to appear successful before they are actually successful. The fact that a few lawyers may succeed at this game represents a false positive of sorts.
The problem with this way of thinking is that it only gets worse a success builds. Much like consumers rushing into the housing bubble by continuing to re-mortgage their homes with every drop of perceived equity buildup, the trappings of a law firm always seems to exceed the growth achieved.
Whether it concerns outside office space, broadband, staffing, marketing, law libraries, furnishings, clothing, vehicles, Apple computer products, it all seems to have a snow ball effect that does something well -- deprives attorneys of earnings that do not make it home and leaves lawyers in debt.
Overhead is invasive. The consequences of it are often ignored. Rarely can past excesses and flamboyancy be cured.
As attorneys face the new year, they face the prospect of starting law practices. Even those that do not believe their practice concerns are not really lavish or imprudent, tend to rationalize what they want as not being extravagant.
And please, do not tell me "you cannot make money without spending money". In the practice of law it simply cannot be reconciled with reality. It is an excuse to debt up yourself and your family for the play pretties that are ultimately unnecessary.
The reality of the situation is ignored only because attorneys refuse to visualize the turd in the punch bowl. If that is something you really never want to see, then do not beguile yourself into believing overhead in most any form starting out in the practice of law is reasonably necessary.