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The Oldest Lawyer?

The Boston Globe reports the death of Reuben Landau, who at 103 was believed to be the oldest practicing lawyer in Massachusetts. Before he became ill three weeks ago, Mr. Landau was still putting in a few hours a day from his Cambridge home. Three years ago, his lawyer-son Bill Landau, then in his early 70s, tried to convince his father that they both should retire, but Mr. Landau would have nothing of it. The Globe recounts what Bill told The New York Times in an interview at the time:

"'Dad, let's retire,' I tell him," Bill Landau said in a 2004 interview with The New York Times. "But he says, 'What would I doooooo?' Just like that. 'Doooooo.' How do you say no to a 100-year-old man? You can't."

No one in Massachusetts could say unequivocally that Mr. Landau was the oldest practicing lawyer in the state, but no one disputed it either. This led me to wonder: If Reuben Landau was the oldest practicing lawyer in his state, who is the oldest practicing lawyer in the United States? I searched Google for the answer, but without success. I did find this interesting New York Times article from 1899 noting that New York's oldest lawyer had returned to active practice at age 95 following an illness. The Times noted that he "fully retains his mental faculties" -- more than can be said of many much-younger lawyers. His death must have come soon after, because five years later the Times reported the death of New York's then-oldest lawyer, James P. Sanders, at 86. Tragically, he died not from old age but from asphyxiation due to a gas leak in his home. I also found this 2003 article from the Denver Bar Association speculating that Joe Berenbaum was Colorado's oldest practicing lawyer. Old? Heck, he was only 87 at the time. And there was this great 1927 news article from Wisconsin describing the U.S. Supreme Court appearance of 93-year-old Moses Hooper of Oshkosh, who stepped forward to present his argument before 87-year-old Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.

But I was not, via Google, able to identify the oldest lawyer in the United States. So I turn to you, the blog-reading public. Can anyone out there help me with this?

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on October 24, 2007 at 05:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)


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