Lincoln Practicing the Law

The Birth of Lincoln the Lawyer             Lincoln the Lawyer’s Political Life

For nearly twenty-five years Abraham Lincoln was a practicing lawyer in Illinois and, aside from his part-time service in the Illinois State Legislature and the single term in the United States House of Representatives, law was Lincoln’s full-time career. Handling cases in almost every level of court, ranging from justice of the peace, county, circuit, appellate, and federal, Lincoln only ever had three formal partnerships:

The Stuart-Lincoln Partnership
Junior partner to John Todd Stuart (1837-1841)

Logan-Lincoln Partnership
Junior partner to Stephen T. Logan (1841-1844)

Lincoln-Herndon Partnership
Senior partner to William H. Herndon (1844-1861)

Contrary to the popular notion, these were his only formal partnerships, but that is not to say that he did not partner on either a case or group of cases with a local attorney while on the Circuit.

Just as with many other attorneys in Illinois at the time, Lincoln was a general practice attorney and represented clients in a variety of civil and criminal actions including debt, slander, divorce, dower and partition, mortgage foreclosure, and murder. Civil actions made up a majority of his practice accounting for more than 80% of his cases, though his criminal cases have become famous in print, television, and film.

“From Prelude to the Presidency”

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