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They would do it all over again

By ANTHONY P. CAPOZZI
President, State Bar of California

Anthony P. Capozzi, President, State Bar of California
Capozzi

Last month, I had the pleasure of signing congratulatory letters to three attorneys who had been members of the State Bar of California for 78, 76 and 75 years. The thought of anyone who had been a member for that length of time intrigued me.

How could I find out more about these members? I confess upfront that I am far from computer-literate. Fortunately, our State Bar user-friendly Web site, www.calbar.ca.gov, had someone like me in mind in establishing its attorney search function (although I must profess I wasn't too sure what "olio" means). All you have to do is check out our Web site (which is now on my favorites list), go to Attorney Search, type in the member's name, hit enter and WOW! Do you get information!

Raymond J. Kirkpatrick, State Bar number 1684 (can you believe that?) is inactive, having been admitted on Sept. 22, 1925, in Los Angeles (keep in mind that the mandatory State Bar wasn't formed until 1927). Raymond Farley, number 4844, is inactive and was admitted on March 3, 1927, in Alameda. No undergraduate or law school information is listed for either.

C. Douglas Smith, State Bar number 10773 (the youngest of the three), was admitted on Oct. 8, 1928, in Santa Barbara. The website lists his undergraduate school as the University of California.

Acting on a whim, I decided to call them. Little did I think that their numbers would be up to date, or that I would be able to speak to any of them.

Raymond J. Kirkpatrick answered the phone immediately. He is 103, born Sept. 28, 1900. He went to Berkeley and graduated from Boalt Hall in 1925. As a young man he loved debating, which aided him in his 56 years as a civil trial lawyer. He walks daily and takes vitamins only. His key to being a good lawyer: "Be sharp and have the answers. Be prepared and never underestimate your opponent."

I asked him if he were to come back again (I wasn't sure if that was proper), what would he like to do. He answered, "Assuming I had the invitation, I'd come back as a lawyer again. I decided to become a lawyer when I was a 6-year-old country boy and never regretted it."

Raymond Farley's phone was busy. He had been talking to friends. When he answered, I learned that he is 102, born on Nov. 26, 1901. He lost his wife six years ago after 59 years of marriage. He lives alone in his three-bedroom home which he maintains himself and still loves to garden. He had a general maritime practice in San Francisco and enjoyed playing golf and tennis. He has traveled throughout the world, but has a special fondness for Maui.

Mr. Farley too enjoyed being a lawyer, especially helping people and working on interesting cases, and he would do it again if he had the opportunity. His key to being a good lawyer: "Being honest and true to yourself."

When I called C. Douglas Smith, a lady with a pleasant British accent answered. Told it was the president of the State Bar, she asked if Douglas had done something wrong (I guess that's a normal reaction if the State Bar calls!). "No, no, no," I replied, I was just calling to get a little background on Mr. Smith."

The lady was Constance, his wife for 50-some odd years (she couldn't remember the exact number). C. Douglas, whose first name is Charles, was born Jan. 5, 1903, and is looking forward to his 101st birthday. He graduated from Pomona College in 1925 and the University of Southern California Law School in 1928. He had been a defense attorney with a specialty in medical malpractice before his appointment to the Superior Court Bench in Santa Barbara in 1959, retiring in 1971. He loved being a lawyer and judge and would do it all over again if he could.

Just think of what these lawyers have seen in their lifetime, with the advent of the airplane, space travel, telephones, cellular phones, the television, microwave ovens, automobiles, copy machines, fax machines, and now the internet, something I'm just learning.

It was an honor and pleasure to have made contact with these outstanding members of our State Bar and to be able to write about them. Please e-mail me at capozzilaw@aol.com if you have any members you would like to tell me about, or if you know what olio means.

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