My Legal Heart Is Broken. Learned Hand was not his Real Name, Learned was his Middle Name

Every first year law student knows that Judge Learned Hand of the Second Circuit has the most bad-ass name of any Judge, ever. Even cooler than Judge Friendly.

But that is not his real name!

His real name is Billings Learned Hand. Billings? Really? Like Montana. Ugh.

My legal heart is shattered. From now on, I shall call him Billings Hand. Just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

And, some choice comments from a facebook thread I started:

  • You know, I had enough of the crushing of my hopes and dreams from Legal Writing, and you go and post something like this.
  • If it makes you feel better, I thought they called him learned hand beacause he was really smart and his last name was hand. Kind of like if he was a judge it would have been judge hand.
  • For the first 2 months of lawschool, I wondered why every judge’s first name began with J. E.g., (Hand, J.) Then I realized J. stood for judge. Fail

  • Why did you have to reveal that? That’s like telling a four year old about the secret of Santa Claus. Come on Blackman!
  • I have to admit, I liked the name too, but isn’t Billings Hand more appropriate for the modern practice of law anyways?
  • When he wanted to deny a motion, instead of saying “motion denied”, he would say “talk to the Hand”.
  • The above would be funnier if he had served with a judge named face….then we would get “Talk to the Hand cause the Face ain’t listenin”
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One Response to “My Legal Heart Is Broken. Learned Hand was not his Real Name, Learned was his Middle Name”

  1. troll_dc2 Says:

    He had a cousin named Augustus. The two of them served together on the Second Circuit.

    I don’t know whether you can find this on the Internet, but Judge Posner has written interesting stuff about the two Hands. Among other things, he discussed the aphorism that one should quote Learned but follow Gus.


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