Inspiring Words from Lincoln’s “Notes for a Law Lecture”

Sometime in the 1850s, Abraham Lincoln prepared to give a law lecture. Although there is no record of whether he eventually gave the lecture, his notes are worth sharing.

Here are some of our favorite pearls of wisdom from Lincoln’s notes:

  • The leading rule for the lawyer, as for the man of every other calling, is diligence. Leave nothing for to-morrow which can be done to-day. Never let your correspondence fall behind. Whatever piece of business you have in hand, before stopping, do all the labor pertaining to it which can then be done.
  • Extemporaneous speaking should be practiced and cultivated. It is the lawyer’s avenue to the public. However able and faithful he may be in other respects, people are slow to bring him business if he cannot make a speech. And yet there is not a more fatal error to young lawyers than relying too much on speech-making. If any one, upon his rare powers of speaking, shall claim an exemption from the drudgery of the law, his case is a failure in advance. 
  • Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can… As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough. 

Source: Roger Norton’s Abraham Lincoln research site

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