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The Tallest Lawyer Ever?

0507000736l I love looking at old photos. When the Library of Congress last week announced its joint project with the photo-sharing site Flickr to post some 3,000 copyright-free historical photos, I started rummaging through the collection right away, looking for photos involving lawyers or courthouses or familiar places. As I noted on my LawSites blog, I was happy to come across several interesting photos, among them one purporting to show the first all-woman jury.

WisBlawg author Bonnie Shucha must be a woman after my own heart. Not only did she too head straight to Flickr to view the LOC collection, but she also went off in search of other historical collections and found that the Wisconsin Historical Society has its own online photo collection. As she describes in this post, several caught her eye, among them a 1945 photo of Wisconsin's first all-woman law firm and an 1894 photo titled simply, The Law Office. But head-and-shoulders above Shucha's other photo finds is my favorite: the eight foot tall lawyer. The 1944 photo shows Clifford Thompson, said to then be the second tallest man in the world, as he is being sworn into the state bar by Justice Elmer E. Barlow. Thompson towers over the others in the photo, who included the dean of Marquette Law School and three Marquette law students.

Curious about Thompson, I turned to Wikipedia, which says that he was born in 1904 in North Dakota, moved as a child to Scandinavia, Wis., and died in 1955. "He claimed to be 8 feet, 7 inches (2.62 m) and weigh 460 pounds (207 kg), but his actual height was about 7 feet, 5 inches (2.26 m)," the entry says. "He was known as 'The Scandinavian Giant,' 'The Wisconsin Paul Bunyan,' and 'Count Olaf'. He later enrolled in Marquette University and earned a law degree."

Another account (with another photo) has him at eight feet, six inches, and says he started his adult life as a professional giant touring with circuses including Ringling Bros., Barnum and Bailey, and then became a traveling salesman. As middle age made it more difficult for him to get around, he enrolled in law school "and obtained his law degree within two years, becoming the tallest lawyer in history." He practiced in Wisconsin, then Los Angeles and finally in Portland, Ore.

What say you readers? Does Thompson retain his title as tallest lawyer in history?

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on January 30, 2008 at 12:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)


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