Criminal Law

Crim. Law Journal Winter 2019, Vol. 19, Issue 1


By Tim Warriner

The popular image of Abraham Lincoln is that of the determined leader during the Civil War. Before being elected president, however, Abraham Lincoln was a successful lawyer in Springfield, Illinois. This article describes Lincoln’s law practice.

Legal Training

There were no formal law schools during the time that Lincoln trained to become a lawyer. Instead, he "read" the law—literally reading, and studying several basic texts. The primary text at the time was Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England. While most aspiring lawyers "read" the law under the tutelage of a licensed attorney, Lincoln studied on his own. He took an oath, before the Illinois Supreme Court, to support the constitution as an "attorney and counselor at law" in 1837.

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