A half-remembered quotation
May 28, 2019 7:54 PM   Subscribe

I have a vague recollection of a quote to the effect of "I would rather be sick unto death than be involved in a lawsuit" attributed to some famous judge or other. Can you help me find it, assuming it exists?

My even vaguer recollection is that the judge was one of those famous early 20th century ones: Learned Hand, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr, etc. I think it may have been in a civil procedure casebook I had in law school c. 2007.
posted by jedicus to Grab Bag (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I too took this quote away from law school as Learned Hand's, and have treasured it as one of school's few practical guidelines. This article attributes it to him: "I must say that, as a litigant, I should dread a law suit beyond almost anything short of sickness and death."
posted by Countess Elena at 8:04 PM on May 28 [3 favorites]

That's the one! Some additional context:
The truth is that no rules in the end will help us. We shall succeed in making our results conform with our professions only by a change of heart in ourselves. It is hard to expect lawyers who are half litigants to forego the advantages which come from obscuring the case and supporting contentions which they know to be false.

I do not mean to say that we should abandon the right of the lawyer to make his fee vary with his success, even to the extent of an aliquot share of the recovery. That is a question far beyond the outline of what I have here to say, and I have myself no clear ideas about it.

It is important nevertheless that we should realize the price we pay for it, the atmosphere of contention over trifles, the unwillingness to concede what ought to be conceded, and to proceed to the things which matter. Courts have fallen out of repute; many of you avoid them whenever you can, and rightly. About trials hang a suspicion of trickery and a sense of a result depending upon cajolery or worse. I wish I could say that it was all unmerited. After now some dozen years of experience I must say that as a litigant I should dread a lawsuit beyond almost anything else short of sickness and death.
Learned Hand, The Deficiencies of Trials to Reach the Heart of the Matter, in Lectures on Legal Topics of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York (1926) (reprinted in 31 Int'l Soc. Barristers Q. 301, 319 (1996)).

One could make essentially identical complaints today.
posted by jedicus at 9:01 PM on May 28 [8 favorites]

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