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Local legal historic sites: Lombardy Hall, home of Gunning Bedford Jr.

September 20th, 2011 No comments
800px-Lombardy_Hall

Lombardy Hall, country home of Gunning Bedford Jr.

Three miles south of the Widener Law campus, just off route 202, is Lombardy Hall, farm and country home of Gunning Bedford, Jr., Delaware attorney, judge and signer of the United States Constitution. Bedford was born in 1747 in Philadelphia and attended what is now Princeton University where he roomed with James Madison. He studied law with Joseph Reed and eventually moved to Delaware, first to Dover and then to Wilmington. He represented Delaware at the Continental Congress, was a member of the Delaware legislature and was Delaware’s attorney general. Bedford had a cousin, confusingly also named Gunning Bedford, who was also an attorney, an officer in the Continental Army and governor of Delaware.

Gunning_bedford_jr

Gunning Bedford, Jr.

At the Constitutional Convention, Bedford spoke strongly for the rights of small states like Delaware. Another delegate, William Pearce, described him as “… a bold and nervous Speaker, and has a very commanding and striking manner; -but he is warm and impetuous in his temper, and precipitate in his judgment. Mr. Bedford is about 32 years old, and very corpulant.”

Bedford was selected by George Washington to be federal district judge for Delaware. He held this position until he died in 1812.

Lombardy Hall was Bedford’s country home; he also had a town house in Wilmington at 606 Market St. After his death Lombardy Hall went through several owners and eventually became vacant. In 1967 it was purchased by the local Masonic Lodge (Bedford was the first Masonic Grand Master of Delaware) and restored. It is open to the public by appointment only.

Photos from: Wikimedia Commons

For more information: Conrad, Henry C. Gunning Bedford Junior. Papers of the Historical Society of Delaware, vol 26, 1900.

Local Legal Tourist Attractions – Faunbrook, Home of First Woman Attorney in Chester County

April 27th, 2011 No comments

Smedley_Darlington_HouseToday’s local legal history site is not exactly a tourist attraction. It is currently a bed and breakfast. Faunbrook, in West Chester, was the home of the Darlington family, including Isabel Darlington, the first woman admitted to the Chester County Bar and one of the earliest woman lawyers in Pennsylvania.

Isabel’s father Smedley Darlington was a Congressman and a wealthy man but an economic panic in 1893 cost him a large part of his fortune. Isabel seems to have decided it would be a good idea if she entered a profession as an independent means of support. She started attending law school at the University of Pennsylvania in 1896, finished the three year course in 18 months, and was admitted to the bar on October 4, 1897.

She went into practice with her brother in law, Thomas Butler, in West Chester, handling estate, property and commercial cases. Probably her most prominent client was Pierre S. du Pont. Ms. Darlington handled the transaction when P.S. du Pont purchased Longwood. She practiced law for many years until her death in 1950.

Much of the information in this post comes from this Philadelphia Inquirer article.

Abraham Lincoln’s Law Career

February 16th, 2011 No comments

AbrahamLincolnAbraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, and grew up in Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois when that part of the country was being settled and developed. After working at an assortment of jobs, including being elected to the Illinois legislature, he decided at age 25 to study law on his own. He was encouraged to do so by John Todd Stuart, a legislator and attorney who welcomed Lincoln into his practice in Springfield when he was admitted to the bar three years later. Lincoln was known as a formidable litigator.

He was elected to several terms in the Illinois General Assembly and one term in the U.S. Congress before returning to Springfield in 1849 to practice law. He dealt with almost every type of legal transaction, specializing in cases involving transportation. He is the only U. S. president to hold a patent, granted in 1849 for a “device to buoy vessels over shoals.” Lincoln traveled the circuit of county courts for many weeks each year and appeared before the Illinois Supreme Court 175 times. He entered into politics again in 1854 and established a national reputation, leading to his election as president in 1860.

Written by Mary Jane Mallonee

The following books on Lincoln’s law career are all avaialable in the Widener Law Library.

Dirck, Brian. Lincoln the Lawyer. Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 2007. E457.2 .D575 2007

Richards, John T. Abraham Lincoln, the Lawyer-Statesman. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1916. E457.2 .R5 1916r

Rizer, Arthur L. Lincoln’s Counsel: Lessons From America’s Most Persuasive Speaker. Chicago, Ill., American Bar Association, 2010. KF368.L52 R59 2010

Steiner, Mark E. An Honest Calling: The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln. DeKalb, Northern Illinois University Press, 2006. E457.2 .S83 2006

The Happy Lawyer

January 24th, 2011 No comments

The Happy Lawyer

Nancy Levit, Douglas O. Linder. The Happy Lawyer: Making a Good Life in the Law. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2010. KF300 .L485 2010

From the publisher: You get good grades in college, pay a small fortune to put yourself through law school, study hard to pass the bar exam, and finally land a high-paying job in a prestigious firm. You’re happy, right? Not really. Oh, it beats laying asphalt, but after all your hard work, you expected more from your job. What gives?

The Happy Lawyer examines the causes of dissatisfaction among lawyers, and then charts possible paths to happier and more fulfilling careers in law. Eschewing a one-size-fits-all approach, it shows how maximizing our chances for achieving happiness depends on understanding our own personality types, values, strengths, and interests.

Covering everything from brain chemistry and the science of happiness to the workings of the modern law firm, Nancy Levit and Doug Linder provide invaluable insights for both aspiring and working lawyers. For law students, they offer surprising suggestions for selecting a law school that maximizes your long-term happiness prospects. For those about to embark on a legal career, they tell you what happiness research says about which potential jobs hold the most promise. For working lawyers, they offer a handy toolbox–a set of easily understandable steps–that can boost career happiness. Finally, for firm managers, they offer a range of approaches for remaking a firm into a more satisfying workplace.

Read this book and you will know whether you are more likely to be a happy lawyer at age 30 or age 60, why you can tell a lot about a firm from looking at its walls and windows, whether a 10 percent raise or a new office with a view does more for your happiness, and whether the happiness prospects are better in large or small firms.

No book can guarantee a happier career, but for lawyers of all ages and stripes, The Happy Lawyer may give you your best shot.

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