lawyer up antedating 1995-->1990

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jan 31 10:45:05 UTC 2010

Another OED WOTD addition. WOTD for yesterday was "lawyer, v.". The
first definition had to do with the exercise of being a lawyer--plenty
of contemporary examples usually talking about "lawyering", plus the
blog "Overlawyered"--not precisely the same meaning, but close enough.

However, the second meaning listed is for "lawyer up".

> 2. /intr./ orig.  /U.S. Police slang. *to lawyer up*/: to request a
> lawyer when being questioned by the police, often implying a probable
> lack of cooperation with the investigation; (also more generally) to
> hire a lawyer.
> *1995* /N.Y. Times/ 23 Feb. C18/1 What really spooks the..detectives
> on 'N.Y.P.D. Blue' is the prospect of a suspect 'lawyering up'. *1999*
> J. FARROW /City of Ice/ vi. 109 Kaplonski gave up zilch... He lawyered
> up and the Great Wall of Silence came down. *2006* /Chicago Tribune/
> (Midwest ed.) 17 Mar. I. 2/3 Kelso was given an ultimatum: Resign or
> be fired. So Kelso lawyered up.

The mere 1995 antedating seems preposterous. So it was worth checking,
at least superficially.

The search for "lawyered up" <=1995 in GB produced a single hit--not
surprisingly another NYPD Blue reference.
True Blue: The Real Stories Behind NYPD Blue?, by David Milch, Bill
Clark (*1995*, p. 117)
> Even with liking him as a suspect, with his *being lawyered up* and no
> other evidence coming in we had no way to go on him

Searching for "lawyer up" is not as effective--645 hits pre-1996, almost
all of them noise. Modifying to "to lawyer up" gets two hits.
Cold Sassy Tree, by Olive Ann Burns (*1992*, p. ??)
> Was DeCaro about *to lawyer up*? O'Connor wasn't surprised, but it did
> piss him off.

The 1st edition of this book is listed as 1984, but the search of that
book in GB gets no hits for "lawyer up" or any relevant parts of the
text cited above.

These Bones Were Made for Dancin': A Smith and Wetzon Mystery, by
?Annette Meyers (1995, p. 309)
> I don't want her *to lawyer up*. I can get the record of where he's
> buried from downtown."

Searching news archives is a bit more difficult and GN search does give
a hit for "to lawyer up" in 1986 in Chicago Sun-Times, but the text
snippet does not contain the phrase (although the article is about the
Hill Street Blues series, so the topic is plausible). Direct search of
Sun-Times archives reveals two more hits in 1986 and 1987, but, again,
no relevant text in the free snippet.

The next GN hit is from 1994, but it is locked. However, it is a court
case, so searching for the case directly, I got the quote.
> By Cook's account, Trooper Saldana was not nearly so gracious.
> According to Cook, Trooper Saldana sneered, "Do you want to play
> hardball with us? *Do you want to lawyer up?* We will arrest all of you."

The case is

41 F.3d 73 COOK v. SHELDON (2nd Circuit); Argued Sept. 22, 1994; Decided
*Dec. 2, 1994*.

The latter date is listed by GN.

There is an Oct. 4, 1995 hit on Scott Turow column in San Diego Union
Tribune about the Simpson trial. The piece actually appeared a day
earlier in NYT and was reprinted in several newspapers on Oct. 8. Full
text is available at and .
> They wanted to question Mr. Simpson before he had a chance *to lawyer
> up*. Perhaps he explain himself, offer an alibi.

There are more hits for "lawyered up".

The earliest appears to be from WaPo, *Oct. 18, 1990*. Although the
quotation appears legitimate, I found that HighBeam metadata are far
less accurate than ProQuest.

> But when he was under oath before Congress, he *lawyered up*, saying:
> "I'm not ...

I also verified a Dec. 5, 1993, story from Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Mike Drew, Jane has her say and how
> Short-term, every story we do now is *lawyered up* to the top for
> every nuance of language." Does she fault company management?

Note that this one has "is lawyered up" rather than just "lawyered up"
(as was the case in the 1995 book citation above).

I have little doubt about the 1990 citation, but it's worth verifying
more directly. I have absolutely no doubt about the 1992, 1993 and 1994
citations. It might be worth finding out whether the relevant text from
the 1992 book does appear in the 1984 first edition--it's fiction, so
the text should be the same, but stranger things have happened.


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