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Copyright (c) 2002 The Green Bag, Inc.
The Green Bag An Entertaining Journal of Law

ARTICLE: Lawyers, Books & Papers

Winter, 2002

5 Green Bag 2d 163

Author

M.H. Hoeflich

Excerpt

IN 1994 WHEN I ANNOUNCED my resignation as dean of the Syracuse University Law School I discovered that the school had a rather charming tradition. The school commissioned a portrait to be painted of each dean on his or her leaving office. Further, the choice of portraitist was left to the departing dean. I chose a member of the Fine Arts faculty, Jerome Witkin, a well-known neorealist painter. During our first meeting we discussed the nature of portraiture and Witkin attempted to discover how I wished to be portrayed. During that discussion he made an off-hand remark which is the basis for this paper six years later. He said something to the effect of, "Well, I assume that you want the background to feature a bookcase stuffed with fat law books ... ."

Without thinking about it I agreed, and in so doing put my portrait squarely within an iconographic tradition at least two thousand years old.

In his classic Lawyers' Merriments, David Murray, Scottish advocate, antiquary, and author, observed that:
No class of the community have been so earnest in collecting
 
books as lawyers, amongst no class has the love of books and
 
good literature been more general. n1



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n1 David Murray, Lawyers' Merriments (Glasgow: James MacLehose, 1912), n.2 p.264. See, also, op. cit., p.262 (quoting Sir Walter Scott in Guy Mannering, ch.37):
A lawyer without history or literature is a mechanic, a mere working mason; if he possesses some knowledge of these, he may venture ...

 
 

 

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