Nonlitigation Activities

The evidence for many nonlitigation activities consists of only one document, such as a deed or a letter. Where possible, editors endeavored to link a sequence of documents that concern the same activity. For example, if Lincoln wrote a deed, the editors also accessioned the appropriate deed record entry. In only a few instances, when Lincoln or his partner’s activity had some connection with a litigated case, the editors have also accessioned case documents. For example, if Lincoln endorsed a petition for pardon, editors also accessioned the documents for the criminal case to provide the context. In this example, Lincoln was not involved in the court action, and the only participants identified in the nonlitigation activity are Lincoln and the person who is the subject of the petition for pardon.

The editors identified forty-two general nonlitigation activity types that range from admission to the bar, to collecting debts, to writing legal documents. The nearly five hundred nonlitigation activities documented in this database are accessible through these activity types.

In some situations, Lincoln and his partners were not necessarily performing the activity. For example, a number of aspiring lawyers corresponded with Lincoln about reading law in his office, and other correspondents sought legal advice for which we have no response. Unless the editors could find conclusive evidence to the contrary, they assumed that Lincoln or his partner performed the transaction. Editors included such incoming letters to Lincoln because they provide significant examples of the variety of activities and situations related to the law that occurred outside the courtroom.

Several lengthy nonlitigation documents that the editors categorized as “managing the office” deserve additional explanation. The Stuart & Lincoln fee book, the Lincoln & Herndon fee book, and the commonplace book are office documents and were included in their entirety. However, each individual entry in these books that named a case or a nonlitigation activity has also been duplicated as appropriate in the legal case or nonlitigation activity.

Nonlitigation activities naturally do not have many of the details of a legal case. They do not have any court information or judgments. The editors have provided beginning dates and ending dates for activities, as well as descriptions, subject entries, and participants and their roles.

See Cases and Nonlitigation Activities for more information.