Vicki Voisin, who champions a podcast called The Paralegal Voice, is an obvious choice to included in an infographic on “Famous Paralegals.” However there are a few other names on the list that we found surprising including:
- Famous activist Erin Brockovich
- Comedian Ellen Degeneres
- Former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln
The reference to Mr. Lincoln as a paralegal caused us pause: The infographic states, “The stories early President, along with many other legal apprentices from the past would qualify as paralegals today.”
Conventional wisdom says Mr. Lincoln was a lawyer – one of 26 U.S. Presidents with an affiliation in law – so we did a little digging. According to A Very Brief Summary of the Legal Career of Abraham Lincoln, a site created by a former American History teacher, suggests there are historical references that could support either view:
Abraham Lincoln, who attended school for less than a year, became a lawyer under an Illinois law enacted in 1833. This law stated that to be a lawyer someone had to “obtain a certificate procured from the court of an Illinois county certifying to the applicant’s good moral character.” Lincoln actually went to the Illinois Supreme Court to get his certificate. On September 9, 1836, a license to practice law was issued to Abraham Lincoln by two of the justices of the Illinois Supreme Court. Later, in a more formal session, on March 1, 1837, Lincoln appeared before the clerk of the Illinois Supreme Court and took an oath to support the Constitution of the United States and of Illinois. Lincoln swore he would “in all things faithfully execute the duties of Attorney and Counselor at Law.” Lincoln was then formally enrolled as an attorney licensed to practice law in all the courts of the state of Illinois.
The complete infographic also presents statistics on the paralegal careers. For example it finds the average annual salary is $46,990 and reports 72% work in legal services.
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Photo credit: Flickr, Bill Bradford, Worshipful Master’s Gavel (CC BY 2.0)