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Abraham Lincoln’s Advice to New Lawyers: Discourage Litigation

Abraham Lincoln has been in the popular culture a lot recently.  A summer hit reimagined him as a vampire hunter; the current Spielberg film casts him as a shrewd and effective politician whose deft maneuvering helped move the 13th Amendment through the House.  After seeing the movie, I went on the Internet and, by chance, came across a draft of a speech that Lincoln the lawyer made to a group of young lawyers.  Here is a piece of it, with cross-outs and underlines as written in the original draft.

Never encourage Discourage litigation— Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can— Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser, in fees, expenses, and waste of time— As a peace-maker, the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man— There will still be business enough—

Abraham Lincoln, Draft of a Lecture on Practicing Law [1860]

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