Barely Legally

Confessions of a Moot Court Bailiff

Old Lawyers Don't Die...

Having polished off a very engrossing biography of Alexander Hamilton, I have begun to read the biography of another famous American thinker, writer, and jurist: Judge Learned Hand. The first thing I found out is that his name wasn’t actually Learned, but Billings. Had his name been Billable, I guess he never would have made it to the bench. (Please, folks, tip your waitress!)

So in 1907, Learned Hand is considering leaving a big law firm on Wall Street in hopes of becoming a judge. His father-in-law, aware of how poorly judges are paid compared to high-powered attorneys at law, attempts to dissuade the young Hand. When Hand makes clear that he intends to be a judge, his father-in-law finally relents, promising to support Mr. and Mrs. Hand, even after his death. He writes:

“It’s up to me to add ultimately to the family store when my life’s action has been dismissed with costs…”

See? Old lawyers don’t die, they just get their motions denied, and are remanded for further proceedings in a higher court.