Lay Down the Law, Rehnquist Advises

From a Times Staff Writer

A group of law school graduates received unexpected advice Friday from Supreme Court Justice William H. Rehnquist: Spend a “significant amount” of time each day away from the practice of law.

“Do not let the legal profession totally absorb you,” Rehnquist said in a commencement address at Villanova Law School in Philadelphia. “You should develop interests which will simply enable you to enjoy life more. If variety is indeed the spice of life, you will want to make sure that you add some of that spice to your own life.”

Rehnquist conceded that his advice might conflict with the spirit of the occasion--and he readily acknowledged that, as law graduates, his audience would soon enter a highly demanding and competitive field.


However, he said, although law is a worthy and satisfying profession, “being a lawyer is not all you want out of life.” He told the aspiring lawyers to develop hobbies, stay physically fit and consider painting, literature and the theater to enrich their lives.

“If you voluntarily slave away for the next 30 years of your life while telling yourself that you will relax and enjoy the years after that, you’ll surely be disappointed,” he said. “Your exclusive slaving away at one enterprise will have so stunted your development that the only thing you will be able to enjoy is continuing to slave away.”

The 61-year-old Rehnquist, a member of the court since 1972, swims regularly and is writing a book on the Supreme Court. Last week, he made a cameo appearance in a local theatrical production, playing the role of the wig- and robe-wearing solicitor in the Gilbert and Sullivan spoof “Patience.”