Friday, October 4, 2019


If you were asked for the advice that you would give to an aspiring law student about how to become a competent lawyer, what would you say? Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter gave this advice:
My dear Paul,
No one can be a truly competent lawyer unless he is a cultivated man. If I were you, I would forget about any technical preparation for the law. The best way to prepare for the law is to come to the study of the law as a well-read person. Thus alone can one acquire the capacity to use the English language on paper and in speech with the habits of clear thinking which only a truly liberal education can give. No less important for a lawyer is the cultivation of the imaginative faculties by reading poetry, seeing great paintings, in the original, or in the easily available reproductions, and listening to great music. Stock your mind with the deposit of much good reading, and widen and deepen your feelings by experiencing vicariously as much as possible the wonderful mysteries of the universe and forget all about your future career.
With good wishes, Sincerely yours,
Felix Frankfurter[1]
Not bad advice for any lawyer. Read more inspirational words for lawyers in Donald J. Zelinka’s chapter in The Appellate Prosecutor.

[1] Maxwell Taylor Kennedy, Make Gentle The Life of This World: The Vision of Robert F. Kennedy (New York, Broadway Books 1999), p. 109.

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