I am not an accomplished lawyer. I find quite as much material for lecture in those points wherein I have failed, as in those wherein I have been moderately successful. The leading for the lawyer, as for the man of every other calling, is diligence. Leave nothing for tomorrow which can be done today. Never let your correspondence fall behind. Whatever piece of business you have in hand, before stopping, do all the labor pertaining to it which can then be done. When you bring a common-law suit, if you have the facts for doing so, write the declaration at once….Extemporaneous speaking should be practiced and cultivated. It is the lawyer’s avenue to the public. However able and faithful he may be in other respects, people are slow to bring him business if he cannot make a speech. And yet there is not a more fatal error to young lawyers then relying too much on speech-making. If anyone, upon his rare power of speaking, shall claim an exemption from the drudgery of the law, his case is a failure in advance.
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 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.
Notes for a Law Lecture, July 1, 1850….Abraham Lincoln.