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Legal Quotes

Quill Pen

Here are some quotes. Many of these are quoted at lawyers. There are a few that lawyers can quote back. Email me if you know any good quotes that I could add.

I have listed the quotes under the following headings:-

  1. Business
  2. Changing the law
  3. Death to lawyers
  4. Definitions
  5. Lawyers
  6. Legal system
  7. Litigious
  8. Plain language
  9. Time management
  10. Why be a lawyer?


Organised business is a thing of law; and the law is always 
hard and unrelenting toward the weak.
(Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) Proverbs from Plymouth

It is when merchants dispute about their own rules that they 
invoke the law.
(Judge Brett (1815-1899) Robinson v. Mollett, 1875)

The great object of the law is to encourage commerce.
(Judge Chambre (1739-1823) Beale v. Thompson, 1803)

The most enlightened judicial policy is to let people manage their 
own business in their own way.
(Oliver Wendell Holmes (1841-1935) Dr Miles Medical Co. v. 
Park & Sons Co., 1911)

Laws for the regulation of trade should be most carefully 
scanned. That which hampers, limits, cripples and retards 
must be done away with.
(Elbert Hubbard (1856-19150) Notebook, 1927, p. 16)

Convenience is the basis of mercantile law.
(Lord Mansfield (1705-1793) Medcalf v. hall, 1782)

(Collins Dictionary of Business Quotations by Simon James 
& Robert Parker, Harper Collins Publishers, Glasgow, 1990)

Changing the law

I know of no method to secure the repeal of bad or 
obnoxious laws so effective as their stringent execution.
(Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) Inaugural Address, 4 March 1869)

I cannot resist saying that I regard our profession [the law] as 
one of the obstacles to national reform.
(Lord Hailsham, Observer, Sayings of the Week, 14 September 1986)

There is no ideal time for the consolidation of companies' 
legislation. Company law is not static, and if consolidation were 
to wait until all the measures in the pipeline at that time were 
enacted it would be delayed almost indefinitely.
(Lord Lucas, House of Lords, 7 February 1985)

When I hear any man talk of an unalterable law, the only effect 
it produces on me is to convince me that he is an unalterable 
(Sydney Smith (1771-1845) The Peter Plymley Letters, 1852, IV)

Lawyers do not take law reform seriously - there is no reason 
why they should. They think the law exists as the atmosphere 
exists, and the notion that it could be improved is too startling 
to entertain.
(Lord Goodman, Sydney Morning Herald, 17 July 1982, p. 38)

If the laws could speak for themselves they would complain of 
the lawyers in the first place.
(Lord Halifax (1633-1695) Political Thoughts and Reflections)

Seventy per cent of the members of all our law-making bodies 
are lawyers. Very naturally, lawyers making laws favour laws 
that make lawyers a necessity. If that were not so, lawyers would 
not be human.
(Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) Notebook, 1927, p. 120)

Lawyers generally prefer not to rush things.
(Justice Kirby (Australian Law Reform Commission, on the 52 
years it has taken for lawyers to join scientists at ANZAAS) 
Sydney Morning Herald, Sayings of the Week, 15 May 1982)

Lawyers are brought up with an exaggerated reverence for 
their system and, apart from a few, they don't see what's 
wrong with it.
(Tom Sargeant, Observer, 26 September 1982)

With lawyers in the vacation; for they sleep between term and 
term, and then they perceive not how time moves.
(William Shakespeare (1564-1616) As You Like It, 1596-1600, 
act. III, sc. II)

(Collins Dictionary of Business Quotations by Simon James 
& Robert Parker, Harper Collins Publishers, Glasgow, 1990)

Nothing is more subject to change than the laws.
(Michel de Montaigne, Apologie de Raimond Sebond, 1580)

There is nothing more difficult to arrange, more doubtful of 
success, and more dangerous to carry through than initiating change in 
a State's constitution. The innovator makes enemies of all those who prospered 
under the old order, and only lukewarm support is forthcoming from those who 
could prosper under the new.

Their support is lukewarm partly from fear of their adversaries, who have the 
existing law on their side, and partly because men are generally incredulous, never 
really trusting new things unless they have tested them by experience. In 
consequence, whenever those who oppose the changes can do so, they attack 
vigorously, and the defence made by others is only lukewarm. So both the innovator 
and his friends are endangered together.
(Machiavelli in "The Prince")

Death to lawyers (surely not!)

Be brave, then; for your captain is brave, and vows reformation.  There 
shall be in England seven halfpenny loaves sold for a penny:  the three-
hooped pot; shall have ten hoops and I will make it felony to drink small 
beer:  all the realm shall be in common; and in Cheapside shall my palfrey 
go to grass:  and when I am king, as king I will be,--

God save your majesty!

I thank you, good people:  there shall be no money; all shall eat and drink 
on my score; and I will apparel them all in one livery, that they may agree
like brothers and worship me their lord.

The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.

Nay, that I mean to do.  Is not this a lamentable thing, that of the skin of 
an innocent lamb should be made parchment?  that parchment, being 
scribbled o'er, should undo a man?  Some say the bee stings: but I say, 
'tis the bee's wax; for I did but seal once to a thing, and I was never mine 
own man since.  How now!  who's there?
(Against the background of the rebellion in Shakespeares 
King Henry VI, Part II, Act IV, Scene II)

A regular reader complains that the use of the quotation "First thing that 
we do let's kill all the lawyers" from Shakespeare's Henry VI is a little 
misleading. He points out that in the play the suggestion is made by villains
who want the lawyers out of the way so they may more easily pursue
their crimes. That is, indeed, the way Will Shakespeare meant it but that 
is not the commonly accepted view. Perhaps we should change it to "let 
us first decimate all of the lawyers". Surely no one would object if we
reduced their ranks by one-tenth.
(Vexatious Litigation, Sydney Morning Herald)

While were into William Shakespeare:

We must not make a scarecrow of the law,
Setting it up to fear the birds of prey,
And let it keep one shape, till custom make it
Their perch, and not their terror.
(William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, 1604)

The way to tell the state of health of a lawyer is to look at his mouth: if it's
shut, he's dead.
(Professor Dymock, UNSW)


Australia: An amalgam of States and territories with
independent governments united by mutual resentment. (Anon)

Bigamy: Two rites making a wrong. (Bob Hope)

Credit: A system whereby a person who can't pay gets
another person who can't pay to guarantee that he can pay. (Charles Dickens)

Debt: Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the 
national debt. (Herbert Hoover)

Fee: A contingency fee is an arrangement in which if
you lose, your lawyer gets nothing - and if you win you get nothing. (George M.

Judge: A judge is a law student who marks his own 
examination papers. (H.L. Mencken)

Judgement: Good judgement comes from experience; 
and experience - well, that comes from bad judgement. (Anon)

Justice: There is not such a thing as justice - in or out
of court. (Clarence Darrow)

Jury: A jury is composed of 12 men of average
ignorance (Herbert Spencer) Or, a jury consists of 12 persons chosen to decide who
has the better lawyer. (Robert Frost)

Will: A man left the bulk of his fortune to his lawyers. 
If every body did this, a lot of time would be saved. (Anon)
(From Punch and The Wit's Dictionary reproduced in the Financial Review)

Lawful, adj. Compatible with the will of a judge having jurisdiction.
(Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914) The Devil's Dictionary, 1911)

Lawyer, n. One skilled in circumvention of the law.
(Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914) The Devil's Dictionary, 1911)

LL.D. Letters indicating the degree of Legumptionorum Doctor, 
one learned in the laws, gifted with legal gumption. Some 
suspicion is cast upon this derivation by the fact that the title 
was formerly ££.d., and conferred only upon gentlemen 
distinguished for their wealth.
(Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914) The Devil's Dictionary, 1911)

Lawyer ... An unnecessary evil ... The only man in whom 
ignorance of the law is not punished.
(Frank McKinney Hubbard (1868-1930) The Roycroft 
Dictionary, 1923)

[Lawyers] ... men that hire out words and anger.
(Martial (c. AD40-c.104) in Joseph Addison, The Spectator, 
no. 21)

Litigation,n. A machine which you go into as a pig and 
come out as a sausage.
(Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914) The Devil's Dictionary, 1911)

Litigation: A form of hell whereby money is transferred 
from the pockets of the proletariat to that of lawyers.
(Frank McKinney Hubbard (1868-1930) The Roycroft 
Dictionary, 1923)

(Collins Dictionary of Business Quotations by Simon James 
& Robert Parker, Harper Collins Publishers, Glasgow, 1990)


The body of the law is no less incumbered with superfluous 
members, that are like Virgil's army, which he tells us was 
so crowded, many of them had not room to use their weapons.
(Joseph Addison (1672-1719) The Spectator, no. 21, 24 March 

When Mr Justice was a counsellor, he would never take 
less than a guinea for doing anything, nor less than half 
a one for doing nothing. He durst not if he would; among 
lawyers, moderation would be infamy.
(Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) Truth v. Ashburst; or, Law 
As It Is, 1823)

Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens 
grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens 
with one of your fingers.
(Bible, Authorised Version, Luke 11:46. Often misquoted at 
lawyers. The Good News Bible's version of the same 
passage starts, "How terrible also for you teachers of the Law.")

Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of 
knowledge; ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were 
entering in ye hindered.
(Bible, Authorised Version, Luke 11:52. Often misquoted at 
lawyers. The Good News Bible's version of the same 
passage starts, "How terrible for you teachers of the Law.")

A lawyer starts life giving $500 worth of law for $5, and 
ends giving $5 worth for $500.
(Benjamin H. Brewster (1816-1888) attributed)

A man must not think he can save himself the trouble of 
being a sensible man and a gentleman by going to his 
solicitor, any more than he can get himself a sound 
constitution by going to his doctor; but a solicitor can 
do more to keep a tolerably well-meaning fool straight 
than a doctor can do for an invalid. Money is to the 
solicitor what souls arre to the parson or life to the 
physician. He is our money-doctor.
(Samuel Butler (1835-1902) Note Books, ed. Festing 
Jones, 1912, ch. II)

The laws I love, the lawyers I suspect.
(Charles Churchill (1731-1764) The Farewell, 1764)

The trouble with law is lawyers.
(Clarence Darrow (1857-1938) attributed)

Next bring some lawyers to thy bar,
By inuendo they might all stand there;
There let them expiate their guilt,
And pay for all that blood their tongues ha' spilt,
These are the mountebanks of state.
Who by the slight of tongue can crimes create,
And dress up trifles in the robes of fate.
(Daniel Defoe (c. 1660-1731) A Hymn to the Pillory, 1703)

The old woman hesitated, then cast a quick eye at a certain 
open box beside her roll-top desk and apparently decided that 
even lawyers can be thieves - a possibility few who have had 
to meet their fees would dispute.
(John Fowles, The French Lietenant's Woman, 1977, ch. 46)

Lawyers don't love beggars.
(Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) Gnomologia, 1732, no. 3151)

I know you lawyers can, with ease,
Twist words and meanings as you please;
That language, by your skill made pliant,
Will bend to favour ev'ry client.
(John Gay (1685-1732) Fables, 1728, vol. II, 1738, Fables I,
"The Dog and the Fox")

When I, good friends, was called to the bar,
I'd an appetite fresh and hearty,
But I was, as many young barristers are,
An impecunious party.
(Sir W.S. Gilbert (1836-1911) Trial by Jury, 1875)

That whether you're an honest man or
whether you're a thief
Depends on whose solicitor has given me 
my brief.
(Sir W.S. Gilbert (1836-1911) Trial by Jury, 1875)

There's no better way of using the imagination than the 
study of law. No poet ever interpreted nature as freely 
as a lawyer interprets truth.
(Jean Giraudoux (1882-1944) Tiger at the Gaates, 1935, 
trans, Christopher Fry)

Lawyers are always more ready to get a man into troubles, 
than out of them.
(Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774) The Good Natur'd Man, 
1768, act III)

I do not know a meaner or sadder portion of a man's 
existence, or one more likely to be full of impatient sorrow, 
than that which he spends in waiting at the offices of lawyers.
(Sir Arthur Helps (1813-1875) Companions of My Solitude, 
1851, ch. 1)

Lawyer's houses are built on the heads of fools.
(George Herbert (1593-1633) Jacula Prudentum, 1651)

A British lawyer would like to think of himself as part of 
that mysterious entity called The Law; an American lawyer 
would like a swimming pool and two houses.
(Simon Hoggart, Observer, 10 August 1986)

Johnson observed, that "he did not care to speak ill of any 
man behind his back, but he believed the gentleman was an 
(Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) in Boswell's Life of Johnson, 

As it rarely happens that a man is fit to plead his own cause, 
lawyers are a class of the community, who, by study and 
experience, have acquired the art and power of arranging 
evidence, and of applying to the points at issue what the 
law has settled. A lawyer is to do for his client all that his 
client might fairly do for himself, if he could.
(Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) in Boswell's Life of Johnson, 

I have ne'er been in a chamber with a lawyer when I did 
not wish either to scream with desperation or else fall into 
the deepest of sleeps, e'en when the matter concern'd my 
own future most profoundly.
(Erica Jong, Fanny, 1980, bk. III, ch. XVI)

Lawyers Can Seriously Damage Your Health.
(Michael Joseph, title of book, 1984)

There are limits to permissible misrepresentation, even at 
the hands of a lawyer.
(John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) quoted in Elizabeth S. 
Johnson, The Shadow of Keynes, 1978, ch. 3, p. 33)

A certain young lawyer is said to criticise my verses. I do not 
know his name, but if I find out, woe to you!
(Martial (c.AD40-c.104) Epigrams, bk. V, epig. XXXIII)

He had the prosperous look of a lawyer.
(W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1966) A Writer's Notebook, 1917)

It is the curse, as well as the fascination of the law, that lawyers 
get to know more than is good for them about their fellow 
human beings.
(John Mortimer, The Trials of Rumpole, 1979, Rumpole and 
the Man God)

The lawyer's is a manifold art.
(Sir Frederick Pollock (1845-1937) Oxford Lectures, 1890, p. 2)

The practice of the law is a perfectly distinct art.
(Sir Frederick Pollock (1845-1937) Oxford Lectures, 1890, p. 2)

The lawyer has not reached the height of his vocation who 
does not find therein ... scope for a peculiar but genuine 
artistic function.
(Sir Frederick Pollock (1845-1937) Oxford Lectures, 1890, p. 100)

"It is the act of lawyers," answered Pantagruel, "to sell words."
(Francois Rabelais (c. 1494-1553) Pantagruel, 1532, bk. IV, ch. LVI)

A lawyer cannot be made honest by an act of the Legislature. 
You've got to work on his conscience, and his lack of 
conscience is what made him a lawyer.
(Will Rogers (1879-1935) in Donald Day, Will Rogers: A 
Biography, 1962, ch. 22)

I will make
One of her women lawyer to me; for
I yet not understand the case myself.
(William Shakespeare (1564-1616) Cymbeline, 1609-10, 
act II, sc. III)

Why may not that be the skull of a lawyer?
Where be his quiddits now, his quillets, his
cases, his tenures, his tricks?
(William Shakespeare (1564-1616) Hamlet, 1599-1600, 
act V, sc. I)

Then'tis like the breath of an unfee'd lawyer, - you gave me 
nothing for 't.
(William Shakespeare (1564-1616) King Lear, 1605-6, 
act I, sc. IV)

Lawyers' fingers, who straight dream on fees.
(William Shakespeare (1564-1616) Romeo and Juliet , 
1595-6, act I, sc. IV)

Do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(William Shakespeare (1564-1616) Taming of the Shrew, 
1593-4, act I, sc. II)

A lawyer's a man well trained in memory
Of cases, precedent, repartee, speeches.
(Stephen Spender, Trial of a Judge, 1938, act I)

There was a society of men [lawyers] among us, bred up 
from their youth in the art of proving by words multiplied 
for the purpose, that white is black, and black is white, 
according as they are paid. To this society all the rest of 
the people are slaves.
(Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) Gulliver's Travels, 1726, 
pt. IV, ch. V)

I never heard a finer piece of satire against lawyers, than 
that of astrologers; when they pretend by rule of art to 
foretell in what time a suit will end, and whether to the 
advantage of the plaintiff or defendant: thus making the 
matter depend entirely upon the influence of the stars, 
without the least regard to the merits of the cause.
(Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) Thoughts on Various 
Subjects, 1711)

I have undertaken the duty of constituting myself 
one of the attorneys for the people in any court to 
which I can get entrance. I don't mean as a lawyer, 
for while I was a lawyer, I have repented.
(Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) speech, 2 September 1912)

These are those lawyers who, by being in all causes, 
are in none.
(William Wycherley (1640-17116) The Plain-Dealer, act III, 
sc. I)

A man without money, needs no more fear a crowd of lawyers, 
than a crowd of pickpockets.
(William Wycherley (1640-17116) The Plain-Dealer, act III, 
sc. I)

(Collins Dictionary of Business Quotations by Simon James 
& Robert Parker, Harper Collins Publishers, Glasgow, 1990)

Legal system

Every law has its loophole.

Law is a bottomless pit, it is a cormorant, a harpy, that devours
(John Arbuthbit (1667-1735) Law is a Bottomless Pit, 1712)

It makes no difference whether a good man defrauds a bad one, 
nor whether a man who commits an adultery be a good or a bad 
man; the law looks only to the difference created by the injury.
(Aristotle (384-322 BC) Nicomachean Ethics)

One of the Seven was wont to say "that laws were like cobwebs; 
where the small flies are caught, and the great break through.
(Francis Bacon (1561-1626) Apophthegms)

The law is of much interest to the layman as it is to the lawyer.
(Lord Balfour (1848-1930) attributed)

The law is good, if a man use it lawfully.
(Bible, Authorised Version, 1 Timothy 1:8)

[Law is] ... a species of knowledge in which the gentlemen 
of England have been more remarkably deficient than those 
of all Europe besides.
(Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780) Commentaries on the 
Laws of England, 15th ed., 1809, vol. 1, p.4)

Laws, like houses, lean on one another.
(Edmund Burke (1729-1797) Reflections on the Revolution 
in France, 1790, para. 268)

That which is law to-day is none to-morrow.
(Robert Burton (1577-1640) The Anatomy of Melancholy)

"In my youth," said his father, "I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the musculaar strength, which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life."
(Lewis Carroll (1832-1898) Alice's Adventures in 
Wonderland, 1865, ch. V)

I am ashamed the law is such an ass.
(George Chapman (1559-1634) Revenge for Honour, 
1654, act III, sc. II)

The law, as manipulated by clever and highly respected rascals, 
still remains the best avenue for a carf honourable and leisurely 
(Gabriel Chevallier (1895-1969) Clochemerle, 1936 ch. 14)

The meanest English plow-man studies law,
And keeps thereby magistrates in awe;
Will boldly tell them what they ought to do,
And sometimes punish their omissions too.
(Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) The True-Born Englishman, 1701)

"The law supposes that your wife acts under your direction."
"If the law supposes that," said Mr Bumble, squeezing his 
hat emphatically with both hands, "the law is a ass - a idiot. 
If that's the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the 
worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by 
experience - by experience."
(Charles Dickens (1812-1870) Oliver Twist, 1838, ch. 11)

I think the navigation laws were not the most fortunate voyage.
(Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) House of Commons, 
13 February 1851)

The law exists to protect us all, whether we are union members, 
union leaders, employers or merely long-suffering members of 
the public. We cannot do without it. But the law is not a one- 
way street. Part goes our way, part goes against us. We have 
either to accept it all or else to opt bor anarchy.
(Sir John Donaldson, Con-Mech (Engineers) Ltd v. AUEW, 

The law is only a memorandum.
(Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) Essays, second series,
1844, Politics)

Where there is hunger, law is not regarded;
and where the law is not regarded, there will be hunger.
(Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) Poor Richard's Almanac, 1755)

Much law, but little justice.
(Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) Gnomologia, 1732, no. 3482)

The more laws, the more offenders.
(Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) Gnomologia, 1732, no. 4663)

Where ther are many laws, there are many enormities.
(Thomas Fuller (1654-1734)  Gnomologia, 1732, no. 5672)

The Law is the true embodiment
Of everthing that's excellent.
It has no kind of fault or flaw,
And I, my Lords, emody the Law.
(Sir W.S. Gilbert (1836-1911) Iolanthe, 1882, act I, Lord
Chancellor's Song)

I should regret to find that the law was powerless to enforce 
the most elementary principles of commercial morality.
(Lord Herschell (1837-1899) Reddaway v. Banham, 1896)

Unnecessary laws are not good laws, but traps for money.
(Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) Leviathan, 1651, pt.II, ch. XXVI)

That ignorant, blundering, blind thing, the law.
(Elbert Hubbard (1856-19150) Notebook, 1927, p. 193)

There are few Englishmen who will not admit that the English 
law, in spite of modern improvements, is neither so cheap 
nor so speedy as might be wished. Still it is a system which 
has grown up among us. In some points, it has been 
fashioned to suit our feelings; in others, it has gradually 
fashioned our feelings to suit itself.
(Lord Macaulay (1800-1859) Warren Hastings, October 1841)

The Law ... can be civil to you or downright criminal.
(Keith Miles, The Finest Swordsman in all France: A Celebration 
of the Cliché, 1984)

The laws do not undertake to punish anything other than 
overt acts.
(Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755) 
The Spirit of the Laws, 1748, bk. XII, 11)

To me the law seems like a sort of maze through which 
a client must be led to safety, a collection of reefs, rocks 
and underwater hazards through which he or she must 
be piloted.
(John Mortimer, Clinging to the Wrechage, 1982, ch. 7)

The law is in another world; but it thinks it's the whole 
(John Mortimer, Rumpole of the Bailey, 1978, Rumpole and 
the Alternative Society)

Please remember that law and sense are not always the same.
(Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964) in N.B. Sen, Wit and Wisdom 
of India, 1961)

One of the greatest delusions in the world is the hope that 
the evils of this world can be cured by legislation.
(Thomas B. Reed (1839-1902) attributed)

Laws describe constraint. Their purpose is to control, not 
to create.
(Tom Robbins, Still Life with Woodpecker, 1980, ch. 71)

Still you keep o' the windy side of the law.
(William Shakespeare (1564-1616) Twelfth Night, 1599-1600, 
act II, sc. IV)

As with forms of government, so with forms of law; it is the 
national character which decides.
(Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) Social Statics, 1870, pt. III, 
ch. XXI, sec. 6)

If there be no law, there is no transgression.
(Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) Seasonable Advice to the Grand 
Jury, 1724)

There are very few grave questions in a poor estate.
(E.W. Howe (1853-1937) in Rudolf Flesh, The Book 
of Unusual Quotations, 1959)

(Collins Dictionary of Business Quotations by Simon James 
& Robert Parker, Harper Collins Publishers, Glasgow, 1990)

Wrong must not win by technicalities.
(Aeschylus, The Eumenides, 485 BC)

Law is order, and good law is good order.
(Aristotle, Politics, 343 BC)

Laws are like spider's webs which, if anything small falls into them
they ensnare it, but large things break through and escape.
(Solon quoted by Diogenes, 200 AD)

Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let 
wasps and hornets break through.
(Jonathan Swift, A Critical Essay upon the Faculties of the Mind, 1707)

No freeman shall be taken, or imprisoned, or outlawed, or exiled, or in 
any way harmed, nor will we go upon him nor will we send upon him, 
except by the legal judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.
(Magna Carta, Clause 39, 1215)

To none will we sell, to none deny or delay, right or justice.
(Magna Carta, Clause 40, 1215)

A man's house is his castle.
(Sir Edward Coke, Institutes: Commentary upon Littleton, 1628)

Men are not hanged for stealing Horses, but that Horses may not be stolen.
(First Mazuess of Halifax, Political Thoughts and Reflections, 1750)

Law, though sometimes a necessary medicine is generally a nauseous one;
and it resembles some other medicines in this, that it is apt to induce
ailments more disagreeable that those for the cure of which it is invoked.
I trust that the respondent, when he reflects on the order of this Court, will
realize this truth, and will also realise that attempts to administer medicine
to others may sometimes result, quite justly, in having to swallow it onself.
(Sir Edmund Barton, Commonwealth Law Reports, 1912)

Beware of the bald-heads of the law, for there are two men whom you
should never go to Court against unless you are dragged there; one is he
who has more money than you have, and the other is he who has no money
at all. With the former you may lose even if you are in the right, and with the
latter you will lose even if you win.
(Australianus (pseudonym of K.J. Back), "Law", The Royal Toast, 1920)

When I die, section 92 will be found written on my heart.
(Sir John Latham in his farewell speech to the High Court, quoted in Z. Cowen,
Sir John Latham and Other Papers, 1965)

Damn the laws of England! I make the laws and every son of a bitch shall
be governed by them.
(Sounds like some of our current politicians? William Bligh, quoted in J. King,
The Other Side of the Coin, 1976)

Cattle duffers on a jury may be honest men enough,
But they're bound to visit lightly sins in those who cattle duff.
(Melbourne Punch, 15th July, 1886)

I dare say the day will come when we shall all have to go to a higher court 
than this. Then we will see who was right and who is wrong.
(Ned Kelly, to Justice Redmond Barry, Argus, 30th October, 1880)

In NSW, the only judges politicians can safely talk to these days 
are touch judges.
(Kevin Stewart, NSW Minister for Local Government, SMH, 28th December, 1985)

If you want justice, go to a whorehouse. If you want to be f ...., go to Court.
(Richard Gere playing a defence attorney in the film "Primal Fear")

Law and Order is like patriotism - anyone who comes on strong about 
patriotism has got something to hide; it never fails. They always turn 
out to be a crook or an asshole or a traitor or something.
(Bill Mauldin)

Distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful.
(Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, 1883-1892)

(The Penguin Dictionary of Modern Humourous Quotations by 
Fred Metcalf, Penuin Books, 1986)


To have grievance is to have a purpose in life.
(Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind, 1954)

For certain people, after fifty, litigation takes the place of sex.
(Gore Vidal, Evening Standard, 1981)

(The Penguin Dictionary of Modern Humourous Quotations by 
Fred Metcalf, Penuin Books, 1986)

A libel action is a toy that allows the rich to sue the rich, with 
the proceeds being trousered by the legal profession.
(Marcel Berlins, The Times, 17 January 1987)

Every lawyer should be a conciliator.
(Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) Notebook, 1927, p. 120)

May you have a lawsuit in which you know you are in the right.
(Anonymous gypsy curse in W.H. Auden and L.Kronenberger, 
The Faber Book of Aphorisms)

A law-suit is like an ill-managed dispute, in which the first object 
is soon out of sight, and the parties end upon a matter wholly 
foreign to that on which they began.
(Edmund Burke (1729-1779) A Vindication of Natural Society, 

We may justly tax our wrangling lawyers, they do consenescere 
in litibus [grow old in lawsuits], are so litigious and busy here 
on earth, that I think they will pead their clients' causes hereafter, 
some of them in hell.
(Robert Burton (1577-1640) Anatomy of Melancholy, 1621, 
Democritus to the Reader)

So he that goes to law, as the proverb is, holds a wolf by 
the ears, or, as sheep in a storm runs for shelter to a briar.
(Robert Burton (1577-1640) Anatomy of Melancholy, 1621, 
Democritus to the Reader)

There's only one motto I know of that's any good. "Never 
go to law."
(Henry Cecil, Brothers in Law, 1955, ch. 5)

It is ignorance of the law rather than knowledge of it that 
leads to litigation.
(Cicero (106-43 BC) De Legibus, bk. I, ch. VI)

The benefit of Going to Law
Two beggars travelling along,
One blind, the other lame,
Pick'd up an oyster on the way
To which they both lay claim:
The matter rose so high, that they
Resolv'd to go to law,
As often richer fools have done,
Who quarrel for a straw.
A lawyer took it straight in hand,
Who knew his business was,
To mind nor one nor t'other side,
But to make the best o' the cause;
As always in the law's the case
So he his judgment gave,
And lawyer-like he thus resolv'd
What each of them should have.
Blind plaintiff, lame defendant, share
The friendly law's impartial care,
A shell for him, a shell for thee,
The middle is the lawyer's fee.
(Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) Poor Richard's Almanac, 
1733. (The last four lines are taken from Matthew Prior,
1664-1721, The Lame and the Blind disputing the right to 
an Oyster found; The Lawyer decides the controversy, 1720)

A petitioner at court that spares his purse, 
angles without bait.
(Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) Gnomologia, 1732, no. 347)

An indifferent agreement, is better than carrying a cause at law.
(Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) Gnomologia, 1732, no. 637)

Fools and obstinate men make lawyers rich.
(Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) Gnomologia, 1732, no. 1, 565)

Sue a beggar, and catch a louse.
(Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) Gnomologia, 1732, no. 4285)

There is something sickening in seeing poor devils drawn 
into great expense about trifles by interested attorneys. But 
too cheap an access to litigation has its evils on the other 
hand, for the proneness of the lower classes to gratify 
spite and revenge in this way would be a dreadful evil 
were they able to endure the expense.
(Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) Journal, 12 December 1825)

You never, but never, go to litigation if there is another way 
out ... Litigation only makes lawyers fat.
(Wilbur Smith, Hungry as the Sea, 1979, p. 214)

(Collins Dictionary of Business Quotations by Simon James 
& Robert Parker, Harper Collins Publishers, Glasgow, 1990)

Discourage litigation,
Persuade your neighbours to compromise
whenever you can ...
As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior
opportunity of being a good man ...
There will be business enough.
(Abraham Lincoln, Notes from Law Lectures, 1st July, 1850 quoted in
The Court is Open by Bartley)

Why do you not judge for yourselves the right thing to do? 
If someone brings a lawsuit against you and takes you to court, 
do your best to settle the dispute with him before you go to court. 
If you don't, he will drag you before the judge, who will hand 
you over to the police, and you will be put in jail. There you will
stay, I tell you, until you pay the last penny of your fine.
(Good News Bible, Luke 12.57-59. See also Matthew 5.25-26)

Does not your own experience teach you to make the right decision? 
If one has a claim against thee, and thou art going with him to the 
magistrate, then do thy utmost, while thou art still on the road, to be
quit of his claim; or it may be he will drag thee into the presence of 
the judge, and the judge will hand thee over to his officer, and the 
officer will cast thee into prison. Be sure of this, thou wilt find no 
discharge from it until thou hast paid the last farthing.
(Knox Version of the Bible)

Our wrangling lawyers are so litigious and busy here on earth, that I think 
they will plead their clients' causes hereafter, some of them in hell.
(Richard Burton, the author and orientalist - not the Welsh actor)

Could alien beings from another galaxy come here and obliterate human 
civilisation? If so, would this be covered by our home owner's insurance? ....

When they reach Earth, they are in a bad mood, possibly because their luggage has 
not arrived. ...

The also wipe out Washington, DC, apparently believing - this just shows that even 
a highly advanced species can be stupid - that wiping out the Federal Government 
would somehow make it more difficult for the country to function.

While millions of Americans take to the streets to celebrate the fact that they will 
probably not have to file income-tax returns for several years, ....

Meanwhile, Jeff Goldblum, flying in the crashed enemy saucer, which is piloted by 
the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, gets inside the mother ship and uses his laptop 
computer to put a virus into the alien's main computer system. He can do this 
because the aliens, like every other life form in the galaxy, have basically no choice 
but to use the "Windows 95" operating system; in fact the whole reason why they 
have attacked the Earth is to destroy Bill Gates.

Goldblum's virus easily disables the aliens' main computer. Perhaps you're 
wondering wy aliens who can travel millions of light years can't fix a computer 
virus. The answer is that, like any large organisation, the mother ship has only one 
individual who actually understands the computer system, and that individual is not 
available. The alien computer nerd is hiding in the bowels of the Mother Ship, 
playing the alien version of Space Invaders, in which the object is to kill little 
attacking figures that look like Keanu Reeves. So the alien ships, their defences 
disabled, are all shot down, and the movie ends with people all over the world 
celebrating. Of course, the cheering will stop soon enough when 
millions of attorneys crawl out of the smoking rubble of American's cities, contact 
the surviving aliens, put neck braces on them and start suing the Earth in general for 
trillions of dollars. THAT'S when we should really get worried. 
(From a great article by Dave Barry in the Fin Review on 16.8.96 about the 
movie "Independence Day called "The thinking man's movie. In the cartoon 
accompanying the article a man queing at the ticket office is talking to a woman, 
"It's about aliens taking over America" and she says, "So it's a documentary?")

Plain language

Words are the lawyers tools of trade.
(Lord Denning, The Discipline of Law, 1979, p. 5)

(Collins Dictionary of Business Quotations by Simon James 
& Robert Parker, Harper Collins Publishers, Glasgow, 1990)

The language of laws should be simple; directness is always better than elaborate
(Charles Louis de Montesquieu, De l'Esprit des lois, 1748)

Time management

The leading rule for the lawyer, as for the man of every other calling, is
diligence. Leave nothing for tomorrow which can be done today. Never
let your correspondence fall behind. Whatever piece of business you
have in hand, before stopping, do all the labour pertaining to it which
can then be done.
(Referred to in the Law Society Journal. "These are not the words of a 
modern time management consultant, but of Abraham Lincoln in 1850.")

Why be a lawyer?

I started in life with the belief that our profession in its highest walks afforded 
the most noble employment in which any man could engage and I am of the same 
opinion still ... I believed a man could be of greater service to his country and his 
race in the foremost ranks of the Bar than anywhere else and I think so still. To be a 
priest and possibly a high priest in the Temple of Justice to serve at her altar and aid 
in her administration, to maintain and defend those inalienable rights of life, liberty 
and property upon which the safety of society depends, to succour the oppressed 
and to defend the innocent to maintain constitutional rights against all violations 
whether by the executive, by the legislature, by the relentless power of the press or 
worse of all by the ruthless rapacity of an unbridled majority. To rescue the 
scapegoat and restore him to his proper place in the world - all this seemed to me to 
furnish a field worthy of any man's ambition.
(Joseph Choate the 21st President of the Chicago Bar Association)

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Dan O'Keefe
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