Louis Nizer

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Louis Nizer (6 February 1902 – 10 November 1994) British-born U.S. lawyer; Author of My Life in Court, Thinking On Your Feet, Reflections Without Mirrors


  • A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; but a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist.
    • Between You and Me, Beechurst Press, 1948.
  • Once early in the morning, at two or three in the morning, when the master was asleep, the books in the library began to quarrel with each other as to which was the king of the library. The dictionary contended quite angrily that he was the master of the library because without words there would be no communication at all. The book of science argued stridently that he was the master of the library for without science there would have been no printing press or any of the other wonders of the world. The book of poetry claimed that he was the king, the master of the library, because he gave surcease and calm to his master when he was troubled. The books of philosophy, the economic books, all put in their claims, and the clamor was great and the noise at its height when a small low voice was heard from an old brown book lying in the center of the table and the voice said "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want". And all of the noise and the clamor in the library ceased, and there was a hush in the library, for all of the books knew who the real master of the library was.
    • "Ministers of Justice", Address delivered at the Eighty-Second Annual Convention of the Tennessee Bar Association at Gatlinburg, June 5, 1963; published in 31 Tennessee Law Review 1 (Fall 1963), p. 19.
  • When a man points a finger at someone else, he should remember that four of his fingers are pointing to himself.
    • My Life in Court (1961), p. 115.
  • There is an aphorism about a farmer who before sunrise on a cold and misty morning, saw a huge beast on a distant hill. He seized his rifle and walked cautiously toward the ogre to head off an attack on his family. When he got nearer, he was relieved to find that the beast was only a small bear. He approached more confidently and when he was within a few hundred yards the distorting haze had lifted sufficiently so that he could recognize the figure as only that of a man. Lowering his rifle, he walked toward the stranger and discovered he was his brother.
    • My Life in Court (1961), p. 443.


  • A beautiful lady is an accident of nature. A beautiful old lady is a work of art.
  • A fine artist is one who makes familiar things new and new things familiar.
  • A graceful taunt is worth a thousand insults.
  • Books are standing counselors and preachers, always at hand, and always disinterested; having this advantage over oral instructors, that they are ready to repeat their lesson as often as we please.
  • Character is a letter of credit written on the face.
  • I don't know how any man can believe in communism, when communism believes in no man.
  • I find that action, even if not too well conceived, at least stimulates hope.
    • My Life in Court (1961).
  • I know of no higher fortitude than stubborness in the face of overwhelming odds.
    • My Life in Court (1961).
  • In cross-examination, as in fishing, nothing is more ungainly than a fisherman pulled into the water by his catch
  • Preparation is the be-all of good trial work. Everything else-felicity of expression, improvisational brilliance-is a satellite around the sun. Thorough preparation is that sun.
  • Some people will believe anything if you whisper it to them.
  • To find a fault is easy; to do better may be difficult.
  • We are slow to believe that which if believed would hurt our feelings.
  • Where there is no difference, there is only indifference.
  • Words of comfort, skillfully administered, are the oldest therapy known to man.
  • Yes, there's such a thing as luck in trial law but it only comes at 3 o'clock in the morning. You'll still find me in the library looking for luck at 3 o'clock in the morning.
  • True religion is the life we lead, not the creed we profess.
  • The day of manipulating a jury is absolutely gone, if there ever was such a day. Cases are won through preparation, dragging the facts into the courtroom. The lawyer excavates the facts, and the more he digs, the more certain is he to win; and then he can pound upon the facts and the emotional appeal-that's the way of persuasion. But to play clever with a jury when you don't have the facts leaves them cold. They resent it.
    • San Francisco Examiner (May 29? 1974).

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