Monday, December 13, 2010

The Trials of a Law Clerk: A Law Library of Opportunity

During the summer of 1981 I was employed as a law clerk at the Philadelphia firm of Sagot & Jennings.  I had completed my second year of law school in May of that year.

On Friday July 3, 1981 the head partner gave me a research assignment.  He asked me to find the parallel citations for several cases that had been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.  He needed the citations for a pleading.

I headed over to the Jenkins Law Library which was located a few blocks from the firm's office in downtown Philadelphia.  When I arrived at the library it was closed for the Fourth of July holiday.

I thought, what should I do?  I knew I was near the law office of Morgan, Lewis and Bockius.  I decided to go to the firm to see if I could use their law library.

I arrived at MLB and said to a receptionist: "I work at the law firm of Sagot & Jennings.  I was wondering if I could use your law library."  She said: "You can't just walk in off the street and use our library.  This is a private law firm.  This isn't a public facility."

It just happened that there was an MLB attorney standing nearby.  He had overheard me say I worked at Sagot & Jennings.  He said: "You work for Leonard Sagot?"  I lied: "Yes, I work for Leonard Sagot."  Actually, I worked for Leonard Sagot's son, Neil Sagot, who had assumed his father's position as partner of Sagot & Jennings.  In fact, Leonard Sagot was no longer associated with the firm.

The MLB lawyer said in a friendly manner, "I know Leonard Sagot."  He turned to the receptionist and said, "Let him use the library."

So I trotted off to the library, got my parallel citations, then left.

When I got back to Sagot & Jennings, I gave Tom Jennings the results of my research.  Tom Jennings said, "But how did you do this?  The libraries are closed for the holiday."  I explained that I had gone to Morgan, Lewis and Bockius and had used that firm's library.

I suppose he thought I was resourceful.

1 comment:

Gary Freedman said...

The internet, Westlaw, and Lexis have taken the fun out of being a law clerk!