Black Friday! A day of shopping and a day off for me.
It didn’t used to be such. When I worked in a D.C. law firm, we all worked Black Friday (as well as most Saturdays, Monday holidays, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and, during tax season, quite a few Sundays).
As my friends were home enjoying their day off, we were drafting wills or contracts or preparing fiduciary returns. I thought then that lawyers never took a day off, and therefore never went shopping. So what was Black Friday to them?
That is until I attended a rare book display given by James Martin, senior legal information analyst for the Law Library.
The exhibit included items from America’s early history – books owned by Founding Fathers, some colonial documents and, what I found most interesting, a very early volume of the North Western Reporter. Actually, it was a bound compilation of advance sheets for volume 2 from 1877.
What I found most fascinating is that unlike today’s version of advance sheets that contains nothing but court opinions, this one also contained pages of advertising. And not just for law books and stationery and such, but also clothing, cigars and even tea and coffee.
I bet advertising wasn’t cheap, not even 140 years ago. I can’t imagine that retailers would waste money on ads they thought were not of interest to readers.
So the next time you’re at a cocktail party and someone tells yet another lawyer joke, remind them that lawyers are people too. They even shop. Perhaps on Black Friday.