Monday, February 25, 2019

Llewellyn and Frank

The other day, when paging through one of the “Unidentified” folders in the Jerome New Frank Papers, we happened upon a handwritten, two-page memorandum by Karl N. Llewellyn.  It dates from their collaboration on a response to Roscoe Pound’s attack on the legal realism, authored by Llewellyn as Some Realism about Realism: Responding to Dean Pound (1931) and was prompted by Frank’s suggestion that Llewellyn gather his writings into a book.  Llewellyn obliged by explaining how they fell under the rubric “Law in Society.”  Because we are not Llewellyn mavens, we cannot promise that the document adds much to the field’s understanding of that great legal intellectual, but we thought you should know about it anyway.  If the Yale archivists agree with our identification, we assume the memorandum will relocate from Folder 233 to Folder 136 of Series 1.

Another arresting moment in the archives came when we watched Frank handle two items on the questionnaire of the Committee on Character and Fitness of the Second Judicial Department when he applied to become a member of the New York bar in January 23, 1930.  The few lines provided for responses and perhaps the occasion called for platitudes.  Frank did better.  When asked why he wanted to practice law, he responded, “I consider the practice of law to be a dignified and socially useful occupation which I thoroughly enjoy and which has proved to be sufficiently remunerative to meet the requirements of myself and my dependents.”  And when asked to state why he believed in “the principles underlying the form of government of the United States,” Frank replied, “Those principles, as developed in practice in the history of the country, have promoted the welfare of its citizens to an extent unparalleled under any other form of government.”  A few years later Frank would preside over the legal division of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, where several of his juniors, members of an underground apparatus of the Communist Party, could not truthfully have said the same.