History

ACADEMY VENTURES

The Academy was formed primarily as an honorary association, as contrasted to an action group. All of the Fellows belong to at least a half dozen other bar associations and speciality organizations that offer ample opportunity for whatever type of action the member wants to take. As a result, the Academy has maintained relatively few ongoing projects. There has been no lack of suggestion for new and worthwhile programs during the tenure of every president and every new Board, but generally it turns out that the cost of carrying out a meaningful project would far outweigh the funds in the Treasury. The Academy does well what it can afford to do, and occasionally raises the dues so it can do more.

At the first convention, the assembly discussed at length the attack on the jury system. There was a movement underway in 1955, led by Jerome Frank and Justice Peck, which proposed to end court congestion and achieve cheap justice by abolishing civil jury trials. The agitation continued for several years, during which the Academy passed resolutions, drafted press releases, and circulated articles by some of its members outlining effective methods to reduce Court congestion without destroying the jury system. It became apparent that some academic support would be useful, and the Academy funded a research project and the publication of an anthology, written by Prof. Charles Joiner of the University of Michigan, entitled "Civil Justice and the Jury." It was published by Prentice Hall in 1961. It was not a best seller, but it did get favorable reviews and demonstrated that the jury system has sustained academic support in addition to its historic popular support.

THE ACADEMY BULLETIN

A less formal venture has been the Academy Bulletin. It would not be necessary if all of the Fellows could attend all of the meetings, but that is not possible. To fill the gap, the Bulletin spreads news of past events, gives notice of future events, and records the recent activities and accomplishments of many of the Fellows. In the early years, the Bulletin came out sporadically, assembled by the home office staff. In early 1966, the Board delegated the editorship to Fellow Don Farage, a master of the sprightly phrase and irreverent pun. He published two or three issues a year between February of 1966 and May of 1969, the more eagerly awaited because delivery was irregular. Don's inkwell ran dry in 1969, and the new Editor became Hugh Head, whose style Don had earlier described as "effulgent and efflorescent." True. Editor Head's first edition came out two or three times a year, between July, 1969 and June, 1971.

The Fellows benefited by receiving the news, and Hugh benefited by the opportunity to express his controversial editorial opinions. Hugh's philosophy was as Victorian as his prose. Regularity arrived when Don O'Brien became Executive Secretary and took over the task of writing the Bulletin. He began the practice of mailing a second copy to the home address addressed to the Fellows' wives, to increase their interest in the Academy and encourage their attendance at the conventions and on the tours. The gracious ladies of the Academy are essential to its functions.

There is one remarkable difference between the Bulletin and the internal newsletter of other trial lawyer organizations. In reporting the newsworthy triumphs of our Fellows, the amount of big verdicts or settlements will never be published. The Academy does not measure an advocate's learning by checking his financial statement, nor equate his honor and integrity with the number of digits ahead of the decimal point in a recovery. There has never been any inclination to form, within our ranks, an innermost circle of uttermost advocates. In fact, most of our Fellows are so modest they think there may be a little luck in getting the right case to the right jury in the right place at the right time. They might well be called the Cosmic Order of Lucky Stars.

STUDENT ADVOCACY

A worthy venture of the Academy has been the Student Advocacy Program. It began as "Project Advocacy" under President McArdle in 1964. He donated money of his own and obtained contributions from others to award prizes to law students who excelled in advocacy. When those funds ran out in 1966, the plan converted to the present program, which is funded by the Academy. Its aim is to promote early interest in trial and appellate advocacy in the law schools. The Academy annually presents an engraved plaque for presentation to such student as may be selected by the faculty of each participating law school. President O'Brien in 1968 and Don Farage in 1970 were active campaigners to increase the number of law schools joining in the program. Former Dean Sol Clark later became a continuing and very active Chairman of the Student Advocacy Program. By 1988, there were 81 participating laws schools in 39 American states, plus the District of Columbia and the Law Society of Upper Canada. The Student Advocacy Program continues to be strongly supported by the Academy.

THE LINCOLN LIBRARY

Good fortune played a major role in a unique project of the Academythe Lincoln Library. Fellow Bob Morgan had a close friend, Dr. McLeon Patterson, who had inherited a collection of rare books, periodicals, articles, letters and other memorabilia concerning Abraham Lincoln's career in his early years when that country boy became the best trial lawyer in Illinois. Dr. McLeon discussed with Bob what should be done to preserve the collection and make the history available to researchers and other interested members of the public. Bob arranged with the Board for a gift to the Academy. The Lincoln Library is now housed at the home office in a special setting of shelving and office furnishings done in the style of Lincoln's time. Several of the Fellows who owned choice pieces of Lincoln history have donated their artifacts to the Library, which is now catalogued in the Library of Congress as a significant research source. Bob Morgan's discussions on the subject began in 1973. The Library was officially transferred and opened to our Fellows in 1976.

INTERNATIONAL GOALS

The Academy is International, both in name and in spirit. The motto on our seal is "SALUS POPULI SUPREMA LEX ESTO" - "The welfare of the people must be the supreme law." We believe that the wealth of the nation is its people, and we believe with Jefferson that all the people are endowed with unalienable individual rights. We believe that the highest duty of an advocate is to preserve and protect those rights, and we seek companions in every land to enlist in that eternal quest.

The high vision remains, but progress has been slow. There are many difficulties. Most learned men abroad are bi-lingual, with English as their second language. Few Americans are fluent in another tongue. Income levels in many other countries are relatively low, and the modest income earned by the advocate may be degraded by unfavorable currency exchange rates. Many countries have strict internal currency restrictions, so that the lawyer who might be able to afford an airline trip to an American convention hotel would have no way to pay the bills. Advocates who are trained under a Civil Code system with trial by a magistrate have no way to create a background of common law, and have little hope of creating a new jury trial system.

Those difficulties do not apply to our Fellows from Canada and Great Britain. They share a common language and cultural heritage, and warn us to protect the civil jury they have lost in most of their Provinces. The Academy has had some success south of the Border, starting with Victor Velasquez. He acted as translator at our first meetings in Mexico and was active on the Board. Later, both President Magana and President Garza were fluent in Spanish and brought in outstanding advocates from Mexico and Central and South American countries.

The Academy cooperates with other institutions which share the ideal of worldwide protection of human rights through enforceable legal systems. A significant contribution was made by Fellow Lee Kreindler in 1971. The head of the World Peace Through Law Center had written to President Don Farage to ask whether the Academy would put on a demonstration of a civil trial in an international case. The Board agreed. He delegated the matter to Lee Kreindler, who in turn became Associate Chairman of the mock trial proceedings held in June, 1971, at the Belgrade Conference. The purpose was to promote expansion of the jurisdiction of the international Court of Justice, which presently exists only to resolve disputes between nations, and only with their consent to its jurisdiction. Many of the lawyers participating in Belgrade were heads of their national bar associations, and the Academy became better known to them through Kreindler's efforts. His contacts with leaders of many African nations enabled him to plan the Academy's tour to Africa in 1977, which brought into membership many of the leading trial lawyers from African nations.

Next - Foreign Adventures

           
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