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Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, October 27, 1912, Image 30

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somebody is hurt in an accident at the nearby street
corner. Rut the attorney has to sit in his office and
wait for people to seek him out, to put their affairs in
his hands, to lay the money at his feet.
What that period of waiting means, only those who
have gone through it can understand. It calls for infinite
courage and inestimable patience. It is often
asked what becomes of a majority of the young men
who are graduated each year from the law schools. I
can answer that question. Their souls are tortured and
their bodies are starved by the hopeless and terrific
IIIL'V iUlVl' l*? 11 Icl M ?1 J^cl 11 Ir> I LI I lie, ctllH IIR_\ die
driven into other fields of endeavor.
The trials of the years devoted to "making good"
have infinite variety. At first you get no money at all,
and then you get it in sums ranging from five dollars to
forty. In the first four years that I practised a fee of
fifty dollars looked like a windfall. I had to decline the
first big fee I was offered, and it took me twenty-four
hours to decide to do it. It concerned a libel suit. The
complainant in the case had thought of retaining me,
and, before I had told him how much I would charge
him for my services, had sketched in a general way the
basis of his claim. After he had decided to get another
lawyer, the defendant offered me two hundred and fifty
dollars to represent him. That money had for me all
the charm and attractiveness of a cross section of a gold
mine: but I told him I could not let him know for a
day or two whether I should represent him.
Then I thought it over. By the strictest interpretation
of the ethics of the profession I might have been
liable to criticism for representing one man when the
other side had made a partial confidant of me. Moreover,
it did not appeal to me personally as savoring of
fair play. When I refused to take the case, I was the
saddest young attorney then decorating the profession.
rPO this day I can remember the face and expression
of each important man who came to me for legal
advice. Do not mistake me. They did not come quickly,
nor did they invade my office in shoals. For almost
a year the one little room where I had my poor furniture
and few books presented all the hubbub of the Sahara
desert and all the companionship of a monk's cell.
But gradually, as the months and the years rolled by,
the influential men, the big men of affairs in the community,
came to me one after another. At first one
came, and then there would be a hiatus of five or six
months before another, a benediction in human guise,
cast his shadow across my threshold. The arrival of
each one was to me like the coming of a prophet, and I
finally began to have a practice.
The first money I ever received after my graduation
was thirty dollars for writing a final oration for the
president of a class in my college. But, with the gain
ing of real practice, I had to work, and work hard. One
day I awoke to the fact that my future was assured if
my health would hold out. 1 had been working day
and night?and only those who have gone through the
fires of that particular affliction which comes to a young
and nervous lawyer can know with what incessant diligence
I delved into precedents and reports.
At the end of my fifth year I was made Prosecuting
Attorney for my county. It is in such a position that a
lawyer comes face to face with the highest and the lowest
things in human nature. The thief, the firebug, the
forger, and the murderer pass before you in what is
rather a sickening procession. You have often heard,
no doubt, that every Prosecuting Attorney tries to get
an indictment and a conviction whenever the opjjortunity
offers, no matter whether the suspected or accused
man is guilty or innocent. This is merely another
popular mistake.
I shall vive onlv one examnle. A man orominent in
the community had been accused of converting trust
Professor Emeritus of Columbia University
I EARNED my first dollar when I was about sixteen
years old. This was up in New Hampshire on the
Northern New Hampshire Railroad. Somehow it had
become noised throughout our valley that there was a
store down at Potter Place where delicious candy
could be purchased.
1 lived at Danbury, and the railroad fare cost just
one dollar. That was a fortune in those days, and my
father did not provide transportation money nor include
it in my allowance. What he gave me was only
sufficient to buy the so called chocolate drops made out
of South Carolina clay and burnt umber, wherewith to
treat the newest nymphs of the valley to the north.
After investigation, I learned that I could work my
way and thus pay my passage, if I would fill the tender
of the engine with cordwood. It was hard work. My
hands were filled with splinters and I perspired freely in
filling up that old tender, which had what seemed like bottomless
capacity; but at last the task was completed.
1 made my iirst dollar and the hrst ot a series ol trips
mont-v to his own use. He was indicted and put on
trial for embezzlement. At the beginning of the trial
I was convinced that he was a guilty man; but the
cross examination of some cf my witnesses by the defense
revealed facts that showed conclusively to my
mind the prisoner's innocence. Immediately I got to
my feet and asked the court to give the case to the jury
with instructions that a verdict of not guilty be returned,
and demonstrated in a very few sentences how
tlit- questioning of the opposing counsel had proved
the innocence of the accused. Later we caught and
convicted the real thief.
After fcurteen years in my home town I moved into
a large city where I had already become sufficiently
known to insure my starting out with excellent clients.
From my life in both a country town and a city, I have
become convinced that the country lawyer is a better
all-round man than the city lawyer; for he knows more
kinds of law, comes into contact with more different
brands of human nature, and has every known sort of
jssue to handle. After I went to the city 1 tried only
one criminal case, and that was because my client came
to me and said:
"I don't want a criminal lawyer, simply because I am
innocent. If I were guilty, I should probably select a
man noted for cheating the jail of its prey."
That case was one of the hardest I ever fought; but
the man was innocent and was finally acquitted.
YOU, as a layman, say and believe that a lawyer accepts
any case that is brought to him, irrespective
of the righteousness of the cause involved. This is not
true. I know Erskine laid down the principle that a
member of the profession was bound to defend or to
represent anyone who came to him, because a refusal
to do so presupposed a man's guilt, and a court could
not go on such a supposition. In the United States this
theory has been modified. As far as I am concerned, I
say this to those who want my services:
"I will take no case in which I do not believe. For
this I have two reasons. In the first place, I cannot do
good work if I don't believe in your position. Secondly,
1 do not intend to represent injustice before a court of
The public seems to lose sight of the fact that a lawyer
is a sworn servant of the court. But he is just that.
Moreover, I have always contended that the good lawyers
of the United States know fully as much law as the
Judges. And these two facts prove what I said in the
beginning of this article,?that the private offices of the
lawyers are the Great Court of the people. Bear in
mind that what I say contains nothing specially applicable
to me. My rule of conduct has been the rule followed
by the great mass of men who are in my profession.
Whenever a client comes to me for the purpose of instituting
a suit against some other party, I review the
facts, and, if they warrant it, give this advice:
"I shouldn't go into court on this if I were you. I
think we can reach a compromise and avoid all the publicity
and a great amount of the expense that would be
entailed by a court trial."
And, if he is a reasonable man, he generally follows
that advice. The hardest people to keep out of the
courts are women. Let a woman once get the idea that
she has been treated unfairly or that she has lost money
through the dishonesty or carelessness of some other
person, and soothing words have considerably less effect
on her than trying to shake down Gibraltar by whistling
"Yankee Doodle" at it.
Consultation, conference, and adjustment are the
main business of any lawyer who does not devote all
his time to the practice of criminal law. You hear of
thousands of cases going to trial; but you never hear
of the hundreds of thousands that are settled quietly,
to that store, where I would alternate my purchases by
buying a delirious kind of cologne water that we nick
_ 1 t
nainea gumsimKum.
There was a pecu'iar history about that valley. It
was Confederate in its sympathies, and every Confederate
victory was celebrated by the inhabitants firing
cannon in the regu'ar old Fourth of July manner. It
was always referred to in these quarters as the Nigger
War; but no one in that region had ever seen a negro,
and I remember that in 18f>4 a negro boy was put on
the train as a newsboy and peanut vender and the
farmers came from all over the country to wait for the
train to come in, that they might see what a colored man
looked like.
United States Senator from Kentucky
THE first five dollars I ever earned I still have in my
possession, in a safety deposit vault. I earned this
sum as a retainer for trying a forcible detainer case before
the Justice of Peace. At that time the laws of
Kentucky required a man to be twenty-one years old
before granting him a license to practise law. I was eighteen;
but by special act of the Legislature was allowed
to be licensed upon examination before two Circuit
Judges. I was found to be competent, passed the examination,
got a license, and the five dollars that I now
prize was my very first fee.
without publicity, and with entire satisfaction through
the efforts of two or more lawyers. Naturally, nothing
is heard of these. When Dickens drew the rather exaggerated
character of Mr. Tulkinghom, the funereal
looking man who had locked in his breast all the family
secrets of the English nobility, he described to a nicety
the secrccv and trustworthiness that must chamrter
a tremendous burden of expense and suspense. All
classes suffer by the present policy of delay; but, as
has been pointed out by President Taft, who was himself
an'eminent Judge, the great share of the burden is
on the shoulders of the poor,?the men who cannot
afford to pay big fees, and the widows whose little
money may be withheld from them for several years by
procrastinating tactics.
That all this will be changed, is the conviction of the
great body of lawyers, and the proof of the prophecy
lies in the nation-wide agitation now being carried on
to make it a certainty. It is being taken up by Legislatures
and bar associations, and it will be helped along
with growing swiftness by every attorney who wishes
to keep his profession free from reproach. For instance,
nobody will deny that it is almost criminal to devote so
much expense and time and trouble to proving dead
men's signatures in dealing with property titles that the
court and everybody else knows are vested in certain
persons beyond the slightest shadow of a doubt. If
such a title is clear and if nobody denies it, why cannot
the court order that it be so recorded and thus expedite
that which should not be delayed?
Five years ago it was a greater habit than at present
for lawyers to forget their duty of serving mankind and
to devote themselves to serving one man. I refer to
the habit of a lawyer giving all his time and sendees to
one client or corporation, and to the allied custom of
serving as counsel for a big company and getting his
remuneration in the shape of stock in the firm. Twice
in my career I have been offered such a position,?a
flattering salary for giving all my services to one corporation.
I refused them both. I do not intend that I
Continued on page 19
Banker and Contractor
IT was in 1856 that I earned my first dollar. I recolleet
it more distinctly because of the stirring times and
martial parades existing then. It was in the summer or
early fall that I discovered how I might earn some money
carrying water to the soldiers drilling in the section
called Hamilton Square, in New York City. In those
days every voter was conscripted to drill one day in the
year, and, being a boy, I loved to watch them drill like
the awkward squad that they were. Suddenly it occurred
to me that the regular soldiers, who were also
tinning, mignt pay me lor dnnking water.
I got two big tin buckets and sold them water from
a tin cup at the rate of a cent a cup. They were glad
to get it at that price. I carried the water from a well on
Boston Road to the site of what is now Normal College.
I don't remember what that dollar helped me to buy;
for I saved it with the other money earned that way
during the summer. There were not the temptations
to spend money in those days that there are now, and
so it was not difficult to save.
ize all lawyers in dealing with the family and legal
affairs of their clients. The /Esculapian oath of the
physician is no stricter than the bond of secrecy that
gags the lawyer's mouth.
TF my experiences in the law had not convinced me
that both law and lawyers were working every dav
for the betterment of men, I should be a disappointed
man. There is throughout the country today a widespread
and justifiable complaint that there is too much
delay in the administering of the law. The law, clogged
as it is with the impeding rust of precedent and red
tape, is a great engine for good. And I make the prediction
here that within the next ten years there will
be a tremendous change in the operation of this engine.
The reform will be wrought by the mere force of publicopinion
on both bench and bar. Nowadays there is too
much attention devoted to useless technicalities and
needless excuses. Under the pressure of public opinion,
our Judges, supported by the bar, will exercise all their
power to expedite litigation, a power they have always
possessed but never fully used. They will come more
and more to the method of an old English Judge whom
I much admire.
His plan was simple. He would get before him the
opposing lawyers and state the controversy. Then he
would ask them what points in the controversy were
not disputed. When they answered, he would say:
"Therefore, Gentlemen, we need waste no time on
this, or that, or the other. We get down to the point
at issue. One side take twenty minutes, and the other
take twenty. Now say what you have to say, and I
will decide the ease."
Something of this spirit would lift from all the people

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