Remembering Lincoln: A model for today’s trial lawyers

Thursday, Apr. 16, 2015
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Superior Court Judge Dennis Curran

This week marks the 150th anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. As our nation pauses to remember the historic achievements of his presidency, it is also worth remembering that his conduct during a long career as a practicing lawyer carries lessons for today's lawyers.

Lincoln spent 40 percent of his life as a practicing lawyer and 10 percent as president so it is no surprise that the skills and values he honed as a lawyer carried over into his presidency. Do those skills and values remain relevant to the practice of law 150 years later? The legal profession today is undergoing economic turmoil and significant change. The American system of legal education is itself struggling to adapt to new realities, as enrollments decline and the legal profession seems to look less attractive as a career choice. How should a young lawyer act in this brave new legal world?

In an article published in the Massachusetts Law Review, found here, Superior Court Judge Dennis Curran advises modern lawyers to "Emulate Lincoln. You'll be in good company, the company of honest lawyers who put the best interests of their clients first." Curran is slated to receive the Massachusetts Bar Association's prestigious Chief Justice Edward F. Hennessey Award on May 7.

Massachusetts Law Review (ISSN 0163-1411) is published quarterly by the Massachusetts Bar Association, 20 West Street, Boston, MA 02111-1204. Subscriptions are free for members and are available to libraries at $50 and those not eligible for membership in the Massachusetts Bar Association at $75 per calendar year. Single copies are $25. Case notes, legislative notes, book reviews, and editorials are generally prepared by the Board of Editors or designated members of the Board of Editors of the Review. Feature articles are generally prepared by authors who are not members of the board. The selection of feature articles for publication by the Board of Editors does not imply endorsement of any thesis presented in the articles, nor do the views expressed necessarily reflect official positions of the Massachusetts Bar Association unless so stated. MBA positions are adopted by vote of the association's Board of Delegates or Executive Committee.