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Goldoni’s Bout With Lawyering

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carlo_goldoni

Ero avvocato; ero stato presentato al tribunale: si trattava ora di trovare i clienti. Tutti i giorni andavo al palazzo per vedere arringare i maestri in quell’arte e, intanto, mi guardavo bene attorno, sperando che il mio aspetto potesse risultare gradevole a qualche difensore il quale decidesse così di affidarmi una causa in appello. Infatti un avvocato novello non può brillare e farsi onore nei tribunali di prima istanza; solo nelle corti superiori si può fare sfoggio della propria scienza, della propria eloquenza, della propria voce e della propria abilità: quattro mezzi tutti ugualmente necessari affinché un avvocato, a Venezia, sia di primo rango.

I was a lawyer; I had been presented at the bar: it was necessary to find some clients. I would go to court every day to watch the masters of my art present their pleadings and to assess the various sides—and in the hopes that perhaps my visage would prove attractive enough for some prospect who might give me an opportunity to make my premiere in an appellate case. It is not in the courts of the first instance that a lawyer makes his audition or builds a reputation, it is rather in the appellate courts that one learns the lawyer’s science, his eloquence, his voice and grace: these are the four properties essential for an attorney, in any event a Venetian attorney, to reach the first tier of the profession.

Carlo Goldoni, Memorie lib i, cap xxiv (1787)(S.H. transl.)

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