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the controlling factor in the solving of the problem, is the lawyer. Judge Kohlsaat has said that the lawyer leads in no great reforms. If I may be permitted to say it, I beg to differ with him, for of all the great reforms that are carried on, always in the fore front of them stands conspicuously some lawyer, great in his profession, who has studied and inquired into the question and has the ability to present it in such a way, always and everywhere, that the reform, if a right one, becomes triumphant. The law is a great profession because it engages great questions and devotes itself to the solution of them, and always, whether it be in the interest of patriotism, whether it be in the interest of society, whether it be in the interest of legal or social reform, it is safe to say that the great lawyer, the man who counts the law as a science based upon principle and not upon theory, based upon facts and not upon speculation, based upon right and not upon policy, will always be found advocating the right thing so that it triumphs, denouncing the wrong thing so that it is put down. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT Wood: “The Lawyer's Vacation,” Mr. Howard Leslie Smith.
Mr. Smith: Ladies and gentlemen: I observe that a good portion of the audience are beginning to think the time for vacation is now. I trust, Mr. Toastmaster, that my subject, however unusual it may be considered, will be found at least a timely and attractive one. I had in mind in selecting it, to direct your attention to a subject around which would cluster so many delightful memories and pleasant anticipations that it would be a matter of comparative indifference how the speaker treated or mistreated the question. Indeed, I hoped that the statement of the subject would absolve me from the necessity of saying very much about it, and I am not sure that the most grateful way in which I could treat it would be to command silence for the space of ten minutes, in order that you might all indulge in delightful memories about vacations that have been and are to be.
A friend who sat near me this evening, in looking at the menu, misread my subject, as The Lawyer's Vocation, and it occurred to me that that was a sort of inspired interpretation of my theme, for I am one of those who hold that no small part of the lawyer's vocation is to seek his vacation.
I am one of those who hold that man is made for vacations, rather than vacations for man, and in these days of changing creeds and everything else I should be quite willing to see a modification of the Westminster Catechism so that it should read in part, “What is the chief end of man?" Answer, “To have a vacation and enjoy it forever." And this is after all, a more intelligible statement of the old answer, To glorify God and enjoy Hinı forever, for the glory of God is not to be found within the covers of law books. The most that I have ever heard claimed for the law is that it is the perfection of human reason, and even this claim I have known defeated litigants to vigorously and contemptuously dispute. To them it sometimes seems like the triumph of chicanery and the perfection of technicality. Of course we lawyers know better, although we may not always be able to get any. body to agree with us. But there is a great world beyond the perfection of human reason as disclosed to us by the young men who write law books for the West Publishing Company and Callahan and the Co-Operative Company at six dollars and a half a volume, strictly net.
Of course in speaking of the lawyer's vacation I refer only to the voluntary vacations. Frankly, lawyers are as particular about their vacation as Falstaff was; there is not one of us who would take a vacation upon compulsion, though vacations were as plenty as blackberries. And I might say, for the information of some of our brethren from the country to whom such knowledge will be very startling, that it is commonly reported that among the four thousand and odd law. yers in Chicago, there are some, quite an appreciable per cent, who stand in no pressing need of a vacation by reason of either
the number or magnitude of their legal undertakings during the past year. Indeed, it is said that there are some to whom an opportunity to appear in court or to receive a retainer would be a tonic more refreshing than an ocean voyage or a summer in the Alps, but I speak not of these for they are not here (laughter); they are somewhere outside of the walls, weeping and wailing and gnashing their teeth, mourning for business because it is not.
As to the rest of us, who have more business than we know what to do with, more lawsuits than we can win, and more fees and retainers than we can spend, vacandum est, we must have a vacation. This ought to be self-evident, but does not seem to be. And many a lawyer who takes a vacation does so in a grudging and regretful way with the hope that a two weeks' rest will enable him to work like a horse the balance of the year, and is perfectly satisfied if such be the outcome. But this is the wrong point of view. It puts the lawyer on the same plane as and gives him no higher ideals than the greedy commercialist. It is the point of view of the business man, but should never be that of a professional man. The lawyer should not take just sufficient vacation to enable him to work to his maximum capacity the rest of the year. He should rather do just enough work to enable him to enjoy the maximum amount of vacation. For vacation is leisure, health, strength, education, culture, nature, art, social intercourse, travel; it is mountain and plain and river, ocean and forest and trout-brook; it is the Louvre and the Forum, the Acropolis and the Pyramids, the Hermitage and the Alhambra; it is rifle and gun and rod and snow-shoes in the wilderness, and the crowds upon the Strand and Picadilly; it is a hammock beneath the palms in the Indies and the Midnight Sun at the North Cape; it is an acquaintance with your own family and a renewal, in the shade, of your intimacy with all the great and beautiful minds that have graced the globe. Under your own maple you hear again the thunders of Burke's
massive eloquence, listen to the sweet babbling of Bobby Burns, or the inspired strains of Omar.
But it is not for me to catalogue or attempt to enumerate what vacation stands for; let it be something like this, it stands for all that is desirable in life for each man, something different according to his individual tastes, circumstances and opportunities. I have no patience with the strenuous life that is strenuous merely for the sake of strenuousness, that finds its highest ideals in the unceasing hum of the buzz saw propelled by unending belts that whirl with unending hum whether there be anything to cut or not, and whirl the faster the less there is to cut, stopping only to be greased that it may hum and whirl and buzz some more. (Laughter and applause.) Let the worshipers of wealth and the devotees of commercialism be human buzz saws if they will. The true lawyer can not forget that his is something more than a business, that it is a learned and elegant profession, the chief instrument of which is the human intellect, as sharpened strengthened and refined by education, travel, experience, books, art, culture.
The all-pervading commercial spirit of the age tends somewhat too strongly to infect even the professions with sordid ideals and so-called business methods. Some metropolitan law offices affect an organization like a department store and borrow much of its machinery; and with all of us there is a tendency which needs resisting to regard our calling too much as a business, too little as a profession—to suppose that our success in life and as lawyers is to be measured by the size of our incomes, the number of real estates deals we engineer or the number and magnitude of the financial man. ufacturing or mercantile enterprises that we float.
It is somewhat difficult in these days of huge fees and retainers, and charges as itemized as those of the grocer or the butcher, with the general introduction of the most modern and improved business methods into our relations with
our clients, to recall that ours is the elegant profession once practiced by Cicero, and that the voluntary honorariums of their grateful clients were once the sole rewards of its votaries. Surely it is a far call from those days and practices to the “hustlers” and “business-getters" and "ambulancechasers” and “financiers" and "underwriters” and “reorganizers" of the present generation of lawyers.
A young man who studied law in my office not long since went out to practice. I met him a few months afterwards and asked him how he found the practice of law. “Well,” said he, “I find it pretty hard on my legs.” My friends, there is too much practicing law with our legs. There are, to be sure, certain animals whose chief instruments of activity are their hind legs. And they play a useful part in the social economy. But they are not admitted to the practice of law, except occasionally and by inadvertence.
I plead then for the lawyer's vacation as a means of differentiating him from the leg-workers, as a means of reminding him that he is a professional rather than a business man, and that the cultivation and development of himself is his highest duty both to himself and to his profession.
Individual tastes and circumstances will dictate the widest variety in vacations; still there are two of our number, one of whom I see present, but whose extreme modesty keeps him in the rear of the room, a gentleman who lives at Aurora, and another of our members whose modesty is extreme and who is not here at all, but who lives at Bloomington, I understand do not intend to take any vacation until after November (laughter), while there are others of us, and I must confess to some sort of sympathy with them, who are inclined to take to the woods until after November.
No man can lay down a rule for another man's vacations as to either duration or method of enjoyment without inviting controversy. I am told there is a lawyer at Lincoln, Nebraska, who thinks that another lawyer who lives at Canton, Ohio,