Randall Tietjen's Book of Clarence Darrow's Letters - In the Clutches of the Law - is Published

June 24, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS (June 24, 2013) — Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. is pleased to announce that Randall Tietjen, a partner in its Minneapolis office, has edited a volume of the letters of Clarence Darrow (1857–1938)—the most famous lawyer in American history—which has been published by the University of California Press. The title of the book is In the Clutches of the Law: Clarence Darrow’s Letters.

Tietjen spent over 20 years searching for Darrow’s letters, locating more than 2,200 of them. Some of the letters he found in surprising places, including the basement in the house of one of Darrow’s granddaughters (who helped Tietjen with his project). There Tietjen found, in 1991, more than 300 letters written by Darrow to his first wife and son and more than 100 letters written to Darrow by luminaries of the last century. All of them had been hidden away since Darrow died in 1938.

The reviews of In the Clutches of the Law have praised Tietjen’s scholarship and trumpeted the book’s arrival:

  • Bryan A. Garner, editor in chief of Black’s Law Dictionary and a well-known authority on writing and grammar, recently declared Tietjen’s In the Clutches of the Law to be the “[b]est law-related book to have appeared in 2013.”

  • Michael Tigar, a prominent criminal-defense attorney, describes the book as “one of the three best books on Clarence Darrow ever published” (the other two being Darrow’s autobiography and a collection of Darrow’s speeches).

  • Marion Elizabeth Rodgers, the author of a popular biography of H. L. Mencken (Mencken: The American Iconoclast) says, “Tietjen combines impeccable scholarship, legal expertise, and a passion for his subject. The result is an informative, entertaining book that shows Darrow in all of his dimensions. A major, stunning resource."

  • Edward J. Larson, the author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the Scopes trial (Summer for the Gods), says that Tietjen’s “remarkable collection [of Darrow’s letters] will deepen our understanding of a near-legendary figure.”

  • John A. Farrell, author of a recent biography of Darrow (Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned), declared that, “[f]or libertarians, lawyers, progressives, free thinkers, historians and all other assorted admirers of Clarence Darrow, Randall Tietjen’s collection of letter is a long-awaited, highly-anticipated and—I don’t use the term lightly—historic event.”

In the history of American law, no lawyer has achieved more renown than Darrow. Biographies of him and studies of his cases abound, as do films and plays about him. More has been written about Darrow and his cases—including the Scopes “Monkey Trial” in 1925 and the Leopold-Loeb case in 1924—than has probably been written about any other American lawyer (as a lawyer). But Darrow’s letters—until now—have not been published.

Tietjen says that Darrow’s letters show a marvelous lawyer’s mind at work and reveal Darrow’s interests, ambition, and philosophy, as well as his politics, the events of his day, and his relationships with a large array of people. The letters offer special insight into the reasons for Darrow’s success as a lawyer and his lasting fame. The book includes a total of 502 letters—all of them annotated to make the people and events understandable today—with a scholarly introduction that discusses many aspects of Darrow’s wide-ranging interests and his remarkable personality.

Randall Tietjen


Ethics Partner

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