Friday, November 5, 2010

Learning the Law: Notes from Grandpa Stanley

My great-grandfather Stanley Hanks was a lawyer and a local judge. Because he died in his mid-forties of a ruptured appendix, when his daughter, my grandmother, was only ten, I did not know him, nor did my father. But, as good fortune would have it, Grandpa Hanks kept a journal with many references to the practice of law. Some are short and repetitive, e.g., "Spent day at office," while others contain interesting and humorous insights. The two below are about learning the law. Hope you will enjoy these "notes to self" from nearly 100 years ago:

"The United States District Court sits [here]. The [state] Supreme Court is here. Five District Judges sit here. The Supreme Court Library is here. The Articles of all corporations Domestic and foreign doing business . . . are filed with the Sec[retary] of State and are accessible. Many opportunities are here. I examine many articles of agreement as to form and take notes. I examine many papers of the best lawyers . . . . I call in on Court sessions and take notes. . . . I have read a good deal and this habit has helped me in speaking some." February 4-5, 1914.

"I spent day looking up law questions. I don't know much and I have to study quite hard to keep people from finding it out; then they sometimes catch on." June 30, 1913.