Philadelphia lawyer

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Philadelphia Lawyer is a term to describe a lawyer who knows the most detailed and minute points of law or is an exceptionally competent lawyer. Its first known usage dates back to 1788.[1] Alternatively, a usage dating to the second half of the 20th century denotes "the ultimate in crooked lawyers".[2]

Philadelphia-based Colonial American lawyer Andrew Hamilton, a lawyer best known for his legal victory on behalf of printer and newspaper publisher John Peter Zenger, is believed to have inspired the "Philadelphia lawyer" term. This 1735 decision helped to establish that truth is a defense to an accusation of libel.[3]


  1. ^ Philadelphia lawyer. Definition at Merriam-Webster
  2. ^ Ed Cray, "Ethnic and Place Names as Derisive Adjectives," Western Folklore 21 (1962): page 33
  3. ^ "Philadelphia lawyer". Word for the Wise. Merriam-Webster. 2006-12-21. Retrieved 2017-02-04.