In the nineteenth century, the term “case-lawyer” was used as a label for lawyers who seemed to care more about locating precedents applicable to their current cases than understanding the principles behind the reported case law. Criticisms of case-lawyers appeared in English journals in the late 1820s, then in the United States, usually from those who believed that every lawyer needed to know and understand the unchanging principles of the common law in order to resolve issues not found in the reported cases. After the Civil War, expressions of concern about caselawyers increased with the significant growth in the amount of published law after private companies entered the legal publishing market. By the turn of the twentieth century, it was generally acknowledged the number of cases had made it impossible for attorneys to not focus on locating precedents. In the twentieth century most references to case-lawyers were historical, even as the amount of published law facing lawyers continued to grow.
Richard A. Danner, Cases and Case-Lawyers, 35 Legal Reference Services Quarterly (forthcoming)
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Law reports digests etc, Stare decisis, Lawyers, Legal research