The Shocking (Well, Maybe Surprising) Truth About Abe Lincoln's Legal Career - Carlos GaminoCarlos Gamino, a Wisconsin criminal defense lawyer, is a bit of a history buff. He’s always finding interesting little facts and sharing them around the office, so we encouraged him to share the most interesting ones here, on his blog.

It’s a well-known fact that it takes years of schooling to become a lawyer. Well, at least today it does. Abe Lincoln, our 16th president, was an accomplished attorney before being elected to the US House of Representatives in 1846. (See, all those history classes paid off.)

Here’s the big surprise, though: ol’ Honest Abe became a lawyer after attending school for less than one year. That’s right; nearly all of Lincoln’s education came from his lifelong habit of borrowing and studying books. Can you imagine? No college loan, no dormitory study lounge—just some friends with lots of books.

Lincoln Was a Fascinating Person

Lincoln, aside from his accomplishments as president, was a noteworthy guy. From his childhood to his career as a lawyer, the life and times of Honest Abe are filled with interesting anecdotes, failures and successes. Even after his death, Lincoln garnered interest. Years after his burial, a counterfeiting gang attempted to steal his body in the hopes of trading it for their imprisoned associate; the attempt failed.

Of course, his legal career is of particular personal interest. That bit about spending less than a year in school was pretty surprising, but hey—it was a long time ago, and there were fewer precedents to study back then.

An Abe-of-all-Trades

Lincoln practiced all types of law, taking both criminal and civil cases. Pretty good range for a guy who only spent a year in school! His greatest asset, and perhaps one that a formal education would have ruined, was his ability to simplify even the most complex of cases.

An Abe by Any Other Name Would Speak as Well…

His skill as an orator, which served Lincoln well in his political career, was honed in front of juries in a variety of cases. Charisma is not something you can learn in school, but a characteristic you’re born with. Lincoln definitely had charisma and a gift for simplifying the complex and making a concise, persuasive argument.

They do teach speech writing in school, of course, and debate skills. But they also teach music—and no matter how many voice lessons you might take, you can sing or you can’t.

I can’t. Thankfully, I had this law degree to fall back on when Simon booted me from American Idol.

Got any great facts to share? I’d love to hear them, so join me on Facebook and fill me in!

Carlos Gamino