Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



Even the title assigned to this article emphasizes a point of view. We will consider the position of statutory construction not from the aspect of judges, appellate or trial, who must decide cases. Instead we are to look at the subject from the point of view of the practitioner, the lawyer himself. The practice of law is of course varied. And there are many fields of knowledge which control that practice. Some of these obviously do not involve law at all. The lawyer is a litigator, an advocate in court or before quasi-judicial bodies. He is also a counsellor, an advisor and a guide. Sometimes he is a specialist. In many of his activities he is called upon to exhibit his knowledge of diverse fields as well as certain of his attributes of character and personality which have little to do with "the law" as such. In all of his activities, however, the solid foundation of law and his knowledge of it provide the reason for his retention and for his presence in the matter. Traditionally, the lawyer's skill in analyzing and interpreting judicial decisions has been a primary requisite for all phases of practice. It is now becoming increasingly necessary for him to refer to statutes, and to develop methods and skills in interpreting them, in order to practice the art of counselling as well as the art of advocacy.' This is obviously true in the field of public law, which usually depends on a basic statute. It has become equally true in the great areas of private law with which most lawyers are primarily concerned in the day-to-day practice of their profession.