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Law Library News

Law Library News Archive


May 12, 2003
Sarah Hollingsworth, Editor

Future Interests


        Summer Access to Online Services

        8th Annual Bridge the Gap Program

Legal Quotations:  The Hunt for a Great Burger . . .

Trivialities:  Speaking of Quotations


        & Answers

Closing Thoughts:  On Quotations

Future Interests 

         Reminder:  Please don't forget---Gallagher Law Library will be closed for the summer after June 13, 2003.  Information about the closure, changes in circulation policy (including changes in due dates), and a description of the services that will be continued can be found online at 

         Summer Access to Online Services:  Need full access to LexisNexis and Westlaw this summer?  Go to their websites ( and to find out if you are eligible and to register.  More details about summer access will be in next week's Law Library News column. 

         8th Annual Bridge the Gap Program:  This popular program will be held on Thursday, June 19, 2003, from 12:00 noon until 5:00 pm, at Seattle University's Law School in Sullivan Hall.  It is designed especially for 1Ls and 2Ls who want to refresh their legal research skills before starting summer clerkships, and it typically draws dozens of students from law schools throughout the nation who are here in Seattle to work for the summer.  Best of all, it is completely free.  Look for more information about registration and program details in next week's issue of Law Library News and on the Law Library's website, 

Legal Quotations:  The Hunt for a Great Burger�.
-- Jaye Anne Barlous, Reference Intern

Ever notice how great a burger tastes hot off the grill? It just tastes that much better when you grill it yourself, top it with your favorite condiments, and wash it down with something smooth and cold. Now compare that to buying one of those cardboard burgers at your favorite fast food joint. It does the job, but isn�t nearly as good.  

Writing a research paper or legal brief can be like that. You can turn in a standardized fast food version, or you can customize your legal reasoning in a manner that kicks it up a notch from the rest of your classmates. To paraphrase James Kilpatrick, a well-known newspaper columnist who writes short pieces called The Writer�s Art, no technique will help a dull paper more than a clever quotation, smoothly inserted.  

The Gallagher Law Library has a multitude of resources to help you find that witty quotation. A recent search in Gallagher�s Marian catalog under the keyword, quotations, retrieved 58 hits. At the top of that list was Ronald Irving's,  The Law Is a Ass (K183 .L39 2001 in the Reference Office), which, I must confess, by its very title intrigued me enough to check it out. Any book wherein an author asserts that law is the best way to get experience of life at others� expense lends itself to humor. It is a small book with a large number of amusing quotes, including the following taken from Charles Dickens', Oliver Twist, and which gave the book its title: 

�That is no excuse,� replied Mr. Brownlow. �You were present on the occasion of the destruction of these trinkets, and indeed are the more guilty of the two, in the eye of the law; for the law supposes that your wife acts under your direction.� �If the law supposes that,� said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, �the law is a ass � a idiot. If that�s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and . . . I wish the law . . . that his eye may be opened by experience�by experience.' 

Another useful quote anthology is The Lawyer's Wit and Wisdom (PN 6084 L2 L29 1995 in the Reference Office). Organized by (whimsical) subject headings and indexed alphabetically by author, this book houses nearly 500 tidbits of wit and wisdom. Not all are humorous, but all are entertaining and enlightening. Here�s a sample quotation in honor of National Poetry Month by Jean Giraudox, a 19th century playwright: �No poet ever interpreted nature as freely as a lawyer interprets truth.�  But wait, there�s more! If you ever have concerns about your writing prowess, consider this anecdote about Justice William Brennan: 

In a 1973 decision involving school segregation in Denver, Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan Jr., achieved great notoriety among fellow jurists.  It wasn't for his opinion, but for his penning of the Court�s first quadruple negative sentence. He wrote: 'This is not to say, however, that the prima facie case may not be met by evidence supporting a finding that a lesser degree of segregated schooling in the core city area would not have resulted even if the Board had not acted as it did.'

The Oxford Dictionary of American Legal Quotations (KF159 .S53 1993 in the Reference Stacks and Reference Office) contains over 3500 quotations with coverage that extends from the Mayflower Compact of 1620 to Justice Clarence Thomas. It includes a comprehensive collection of the most famous passages of American judges and legal commentators. Also included are sayings from literature, humor, motion pictures, and song lyrics relating to American law. Quotations and anecdotes may be located in the index under keyword, phrase, and author. So, for instance, under the heading of legal research you might find this amusing tale excerpted from Robert T. Sloan's, Daisy Whiffle v. The Twitter Bird Seed Company in The Judicial Humorist 20, 22-23 (William L. Prosser ed. 1952):

I made no preparations for the trial. It is not my policy to look up law in advance of the trial of a lawsuit. I have learned from experience that no matter how strange and fantastic is my notion of the law, it is safe to assume that somewhere in the reports there will be [a] decision that will support it. And maybe I won�t have to look it up at all. I really have, I must confess, a singular aversion to looking up law. At one time I seriously considered specializing exclusively in a certain class of cases dealing with what is commonly referred to as 'the unwritten law,� but I didn�t seem able to work up that type of practice.

Or you may uncover this pithy evaluation on the study of law, which was taken from Karl N. Llewellyn's, The Bramble Bush, 102-103 (1930): �It is not easy thus to turn human beings into lawyers. Neither is it safe. . . . None the less, it is an almost impossible process to achieve the technique without sacrificing some humanity first.�

Finally, not all of the best quotations or anecdotes are found in recent publications. Sometimes, ingenuity means searching where other students don�t think to go. A keyword search, therefore, under quotations and limited to years between 1850 and 1910 narrows the result to six books. Among them, the 1904 edition of the Dictionary of Legal Quotations (KD315 .N67 1904 in Classified Stacks) offers axioms from the past that may not be printed in modern editions. Most of the quotations in this book are taken directly from court transcripts. So, for example, the next time you�re writing a paper on corporations, you might want to use the following quote by the famous English jurist, Sir Edward Coke, who asserted: �Corporations cannot commit treason, nor be outlawed, nor excommunicated, for they have no souls.� Case of Suttons Hospital, 5 Eng. Rep. 303 (1612). Coke, by the way, as Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas (1606�1616) ruled that the common law was supreme law, even when the Crown disagreed.

Happy hunting.


         Trivialities:  Speaking of Quotations

Match the quotations in the left column with the source in the right column: 

1.  To some lawyers, all facts are created equal.

a.  Robert Frost

2.  A jury consists of twelve persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer.

b.  Benjamin Franklin

3.  The trouble with law is lawyers.

c.  Will Rogers

4.  You can't legislate intelligence and common sense into people.

d.  Felix Frankfurter

5.  Where there is hunger, law is not regarded; and where the law is not regarded, there will be hunger.

e.  Clarence Darrow

 ►Bring the correct answers by the Reference Office and pick up a prize! 

Congratulations to David Orange who walked away with this week's prize in the trivia contest to identify the United States Supreme Court Justices who left the bench for reasons other than retirement.  Winners can pick up their prizes from the Reference Office at any time.  The correct answers were:
o           The Justice who left to become Ambassador to the United Nations was Justice Arthur Goldberg.
The Justice who left to accept the Republican nomination for President was Justice Charles Evans Hughes, who left the bench to  run against Woodrow Wilson in 1916.
The Justice who left to become Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Assistant President" during World War II was James F. Byrnes.
The Justice who left the bench because of ill health was Justice Thomas Johnson, who resigned in 1793 and lived another  twenty-five years until 1819.
The Justice who left to become the Chief Justice of South Carolina was Justice John Rutledge. 

Closing Thoughts:  On Quotations 


But I have long thought that if you knew a column of advertisements by heart, you could achieve unexpected felicities with them. You can get a happy quotation anywhere if you have the eye.


---Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.