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HEN Silas Jones graduated from sity, he entered the law school and took
the high school the world was be- practically the full three-year course. fore him—and not much else. He had Not having a sufficient amount of acanot been born with a silver spoon in his demic work to his credit, he was not almouth, nor had any kind fairy given him lowed to graduate from the law school, a good luck penny which would save the and had to console himself with the renecessity of individual effort on his part. flection that he really possessed the In other words, he was just an average knowledge, if not the degree, of a propAmerican boy with his way to make in erly diplomaed graduate. the world—one of the great army of Realizing that his lack of a degree boys who have good stuff in them, but would make it difficult for him to secure are not geniuses or pets of fortune; the a position in any of the law offices of the sort turned out by thousands every year
University city, he determined to go from our high schools.
West and try his fortune in new fields. Silas wanted to be a lawyer. He re- Perhaps in a new town there might be alized that for this career academic and room for a young man of fair ability special training would be necessary, and, and good intentions who didn't possess since his parents could not afford to send a college degree, but had done his best him to college, he pluckily determined to lay a sound foundation for his future to strike out on his own account.
work as a lawyer in genuine knowledge He went to the city where the Univer- of the field of law. sity of his state was located, and found He determined to try his luck at Luna job which would leave him a good part nuntown. There were several firms of of his time for his own purposes. Then prosperous lawyers in the town, and poshe entered the University as a special stu- sibly one of them might make use of a dent. Vot hoping to complete the aca- law clerk who was conscious of not bedemic course, he selected such subjects ing a genius, but who really did know as would be most valuable to him in his a thing or two about law books. future as a lawyer. After two years in He arrived, impecunious but hopeful, the collegiate department of the Univer- and set forth at once to look for the lar
gest and most imposing law office in law school graduates, who know everytown. Blaque & Whyte's seemed to meet thing,” he said gruffly. the requirements. What more likely than "I haven't graduated," Silas began that they should need a clerk—a really apologetically, “but," capable clerk, you know! He never got “That's one point in your favor, at any far enough in to find out. There was an rate,” said Mr. Stockbridge. “But in imposing young man in the front office
you can help me? who assured him that the position was Can you draw pleadings?” already quite satisfactorily filled by him- Silas was a little dubious. He had self, and no one else need apply—cer- taken the usual course, but he was not tainly no insignificant person who was
familiar with the laws and rules of pracsecretly conscious of the fact that he did tice in this state. not even possess a college degree or a “Do you suppose you could draw a law school diploma !
mortgage ?" Silas withdrew in good order; but, if Silas had never had any occasion to he did not follow the example of his pro- draw a mortgage, and said so. totype, Dick Whittington, in sitting down “Are you a stenographer?” by the wayside to meditate upon the ad- Silas had to admit that he was not. visability of turning back from Lunnon- Mr. Stockbridge rubbed his glasses. town, it was because the wayside was a "Well, what do you think you could do curbstone and sitting down there would that would be useful in my office?" make him too conspicuous. Besides, he Silas felt a good deal discouraged, but didn't have money enough to go back, he glanced at the shelves of law books, and it wasn't necessary for him to count which lined the room, and ventured to the contents of his pockets to make sure, play his one trump card. “I could find either. He kept on walking, therefore, authorities for you." and it so chanced that as he' walked he
Mr. Stockbridge was surprised into saw the law sign of Josiah Stockbridge. really expressing his feelings. "Find auMore to justify himself to himself than thorities for me, a practitioner of thirwith any hope of success, he "turned ty years' standing! Do you think that again" and entered Mr. Stockbridge's of- I would trust that part of my work to fice.
an inexperienced clerk? You don't seem Mr. Stockbridge was a lawyer of the to understand that collating and selecting old school. He never had had a law the right authorities is often the winning clerk, and listened to Silas' application stroke in preparing a case. It takes exwithout much interest. He had a very perience to do it, too. What do you good practice, which he had worked up know about finding authorities?” himself in the good old personal way, Silas ventured to say that at the law and he didn't believe in modern methods school he had been very much interestof “team work.” Ordinarily he would ed in the course of legal bibliography have turned Silas down with decision and had studied the Use of Law Books, and without debate, but possibly the ob- including the practical handling of divious fact that he was a country boy gests, encyclopedias, annotations, textproved for once an advantage. The old books, et cetera. man looked him over keenly.
"Oh, they teach that sort of thing “I suppose you are one of those smart in law schools now?" said Mr. Stock
bridge. There a hint of sarcasm in his have carefully looked through the varivoice and a twinkle of amusement under ous encyclopedias and selected case sets his shaggy gray eyebrows. “Well, just which I have here in the office (and I suppose you let us see how this new-fan- have them all), and I have found a varigled teaching works out.” (Now the fact ety of authorities as to the effect of the is Mr. Stockbridge had been putting in strike clause in contracts for sale, and his spare time for a couple of weeks look- the case of Delaware, L. & W.R. Co. v. ing for authorities on a rather unusual Bowns, 58 N. Y. 573, causes me parproposition, and without success, and he ticular anxiety, holding as it does that a thought it might teach the young man strike caused by a reduction of wages did what "finding authorities" meant to cas- not deprive the seller of the benefit of the ually put this question up to him). “I am
stipulation. I am free to confess that I defending a suit against the bank here,
have found no cases in the books of my which presents a proposition which is a
library construing such a clause in a little out of the ordinary. When their building contract. If you can find me any new building was put up last fall the
authorities sustaining my contention that contractor agreed to finish it by a certain
a strike resulting from conditions aristime, and the contract contained a clàuse
ing in the manner which I have described exempting the contractor from liability
will not relieve the contractor from liafor delays caused by strikes. While the
bility for delay, I will consider your apbuilding was being erected the contract
plication for a position as law clerk." or, in good faith, reduced the wages of
He pursed up his lips and looked benevhis workmen, who thereupon went upon olently malicious. a strike. The strike, which affected all
Silas saw that this was in the nature workmen in that trade, was settled al
of a challenge, but he was not at all most immediately, and resulted in a sub
fazed, for he felt that here he knew his stantial victory for the strikers. The Builders' Association, in which the con
ground. He might not be a genius, but,
thank Heaven, he had had the sense to tractor was a member, in an effort to
recognize the importance of the course counteract, in some measure, the effect
in legal bibliography! To learn where of the strike, passed a rule limiting the
he stood, he asked Mr. Stockbridge number of employés which each mem
whether he had consulted the Digests. ber might employ. The contractor who
Mr. Stockbridge intimated that he didn't was building the bank took back all of
have much use for Digests. He had his striking employés, up to the limit set
formed the habit of working from the by the Association, which included about three-fourths of those formerly in his
notes to the Selected Cases, which inemploy. As a consequence of all this
cluded everything really important, of he was delayed in completing the build
course. An enterprising law book agent ing beyond the stipulated time. Now,
had loaded up his shelves with the entire my client, the bank, refused to pay the
American Digest System; but, after he last installment, and the contractor has
had discovered what an unwieldy set of sued for the amount.
I am going to set
books he had let himself in for, he had up a counterclaim for delay, which the never touched them. They were on the contractor will seek to excuse under the upper shelves, covered with dust; but, if strike clause in the building contract. I Silas imagined that they would be of any help to him, he'd find them there. Silas place in the Digests where this proposirather imagined that they would. tion was classified, and that all he had to
The minute that he was alone, Silas do was to keep on. Turning to Vol. 1, got down the set of the American Digest, Key-Number Series, under the same Key-Number Series. Recalling his lec- topic and section number, Silas found tures at school on how to find the law, the New York case of Barnum v. Wilhe determined to try the “Descriptive liams, 102 N. Y. Supp. 874, 115 App. Word” method. Analyzing the proposi- Div. 694. This was the Supreme Court tion which Mr. Stockbridge had given opinion in a case that he later found, in him, he selected the words, “Delay," Vol. 4, Key-Number Series; the lat"Strikes," and "Labor Unions" as the er decision of the Court of Appeals, holdcross-reference heads to be investigated ing that a contractor, who was prevented in the American Digest. Taking down from completing work on time by dethe last volume of the Key-Number Se- fault of the owner, and was thereafter ries (Vol. 6), and turning to “Delay," delayed by a strike, was not liable for Silas found nearly a column of references, breach of contract. He was gratified to one of which read as follows: "Delay in see that he was still finding cases upon the performance of contracts in general, his proposition, but they were not calcusee Contracts, $$ 298–300." Further lated to help Mr. Stockbridge's side of investigation disclosed this head and ref
the case. erence in nearly all of the Key-Number From Vol. 1, Key-Number Series, he volumes. Making a note of the refer- went to the Decennial Digest, still folence, “Contracts, $$ 298–300," he in- lowing his guiding Key-Number, “Convestigated the cross-reference head tracts, $ 300." He found it in volume "Strikes.” He found no reference un- 5-Contracts, $ 300—Delay in performder this heading which seemed likely to ance-Excuses. Under subsection 5, produce results until he reached Volume Delay Caused by Strike, he found the 2 of the Key-Number Series, where he Missouri case of Weber v. Collins, 41 S. struck a reference, “As to excuse for de- W. 249, 139 Mo. 501, holding that where lay in performance of contract, see Con- twenty-five out of twenty-eight mills in tracts, $ 300.” This second reference to St. Louis were not in operation because “Contracts, $ 300," convinced him that of a strike, this fact constituted a "genthis was the Key-Number on authorities eral strike,” within the meaning of a conin point. He then turned to § 300, un- tract which excused delay caused by a der the head of Contracts, in volume 2, general strike. This was a point which and found this digest paragraph: might interest Mr. Stockbridge, and he "Where a building contract provides
marked the place. that the contractor should be liable for Silas knew that the cases prior to delay in performance, he was chargeable with delay, while waiting for brick from
the Decennial were to be found in the the brick factory with which he had con- Century Digest, and, noting that the tracted, though the delay was due to a
reference under $ 300 in the Decenstrike among the servants of the factory.- Neblett v. MacGraw & Brewer, 103 nial was to Vol. 1, Century Digest, SS S. W. 1113."
1372-1381, he climbed the ladder to These facts did not exactly fit Mr. the top shelf, where this set reposed, and Stockbridge's case, but Silas now felt took down that volume. He did not get certain that he had found the proper much help from the Century, for the rea
son that provisions against delays caus- to have Silas continue his investigation ed by strikes were not often placed in in Blaque & Whyte's office, as they were contracts until about ten years ago. He retained on the other side of the case, did, however, find a note of a case cited and he did not want to take chances on from 39 New York Superior Court Re- the boy turning up something that would ports, 109, holding that delay caused by prove to their advantage, so he said, a strike which occurred after the expira- “I don't know that I care to tell tion of the time fixed in the contract was Blaque & Whyte that my library is no excuse.
not complete enough to suit you," he said Silas had now exhausted the Digests, drily, "but I'm just going down to the and, while he felt gratified at finding a Court House, and you can come on and few cases in point which Mr. Stockbridge examine the library there, if you like." had not been able to find in his encyclo- At the Court House Library Silas pedias or annotated cases, he knew that, found the entire Reporter System, and in order to make the search exhaustive, began a hasty search through the indexes he should look through the cases which of the late volumes for cases under Conwere subsequent to the latest American
tracts, section 300, which might bear upDigest. These current cases would be on the proposition in hand. He did not found in the Reporters of the National succeed in finding anything, however, Reporter System; but Mr. Stockbridge and realized that he would have to rest did not have the Reporters in his office, his case on the rather unwelcome renor did he own even the Monthly Ad- sults of his search through the digests; vance Sheets of the American Digest. but, of course, he understood the imporSilas was ambitious to make his work tance to Mr. Stockbridge of being inexhaustive, and he suddenly made up his formed of the cases against him, as well mind that he would ask the pompous law as those favorable to him. Putting out clerk in the office down the street to let on the big library table the volumes of him look through the late Reporters in the American Digest System in which he the hope of finding additional cases. At had found the authorities, Silas apthis point, however, Mr. Stockbridge en- proached Mr. Stockbridge, who had been tered the room.
conversing with the old librarian, and "Well, how does it go?” he asked joc- explained that he had found three or ularly. “Do your law-school rules work four contract cases which were in point when you are up against the real thing?" on Mr. Stockbridge's proposition, but
"I'm not through yet,” said Silas. “I which held against his contention. cannot make my search complete, unless "Oh indeed!" said Mr. Stockbridge. I may look through the late volumes of Privately he wondered whether Silas the Reporters for the cases just decided, knew a case in point when he saw it, and and I want your permission to go down the expression of his face did not entirethe street and examine the library of the ly conceal his thought. But his expreslawyers down there."
sion changed as he read the paragraphs Mr. Stockbridge gave him a quizzical marked. He looked surprised and anlook. He evidently thought that Silas noyed, but clearly he was impressed. hated to admit his defeat. At the same "How did you come to know about time he meant in fairness to give the boy these cases, young man?". every chance. He did not care exactly "Why, I found them in the Digest. I