Shook, Hardy & Bacon Partner James Muehlberger discusses his book “The 116: The True Story of Abraham Lincoln’s Lost Guard” and Shook’s sabbatical program in an October 2016 ABA Journal article, “Litigator’s Book Documents the Service of Kansas’ Frontier Guard to President Lincoln.”
While on his first three-month sabbatical from Shook in 2007, Muehlberger researched post-Civil War history around the Missouri-Kansas border. This research led him to discover Jim Lane, a lawyer and former U.S. senator who led a group of men known as the Frontier Guard. Muehlberger then wrote his book, telling the story of how the Guard traveled from the Great Plains to Washington, D.C., in April 1861 to protect President Abraham Lincoln from potential Confederate attack at the outset of the Civil War.
“What lawyers do is figure out problems and create narratives,” Muehlberger explains. “Lane had to figure out how he could create a force, and he was a problem solver.”
Muehlberger shares this about the firm’s sabbatical, which partners are eligible to take every six years: “I think it helps us retain lawyers; people really enjoy it. We’ve always been a very hardworking trial firm,” Muehlberger says. “This is high-pressure stuff, and a sabbatical helps our lawyers re-energize and refocus.”
Reflecting on his book-writing experience, Muehlberger notes, “In some ways, writing books may have made my legal writing better.” He adds, “It’s taught me [how to] tell a story in a conversational and interesting way—one of those things we try to teach younger lawyers about their legal writing.”