Happy Birthday Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809. Most historians agree, he was one of our nation’s greatest presidents – not only for issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, but also for holding the union together during the civil war. He was able to help end slavery and unite our states by standing by the fundamental principal that everyone knows in their hearts – slavery is wrong.
Not surprisingly, Lincoln stood by firm principals before his presidency. I’ve always loved what he wrote in preparing to deliver a lecture to lawyers in 1850, as they show that Honest Abe was just that, and consistent. I think some of his words of wisdom are particularly relevant today, and especially in the context of family law litigation. In custody disputes, attorneys should consider themselves in the business of truth finding, not truth hiding. And, we should never “stir up litigation.”
Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser — in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.
Never stir up litigation. A worse man can scarcely be found than one who does this. Who can be more nearly a fiend than he who habitually overhauls the register of deeds in search of defects in titles, whereon to stir up strife, and put money in his pocket? A moral tone ought to be infused into the profession which should drive such men out of it.
There is a vague popular belief that lawyers are necessarily dishonest…. Let no young man choosing the law for a calling for a moment yield to the popular belief — resolve to be honest at all events; and if in your own judgment you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without being a lawyer. Choose some other occupation, rather than one in the choosing of which you do, in advance, consent to be a knave.
Abe’s wisdom stands the test of time. I’m one attorney who is resolved to accept his challenge. Happy birthday, Mr. President.
Submitted by Mike Haskell. Mike is a practicing family law attorney from Grand Rapids Michigan. He is a divorced father and shared parenting advocate. Posting of this article is not an endorsement for, or recommendation of, Haskell Law.
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