“Mad Men” Meets Prosser?

I recently visited the American Law Institute archives, maintained by the University of Pennsylvania. There, I dove into the ALI records that relate to the development the Restatement (Second) of Torts. The documents I saw reveal a great deal about the creation of this treatise, and the atmosphere in which it was prepared.

For example, have you ever wondered what the scholars responsible for the Restatement drank, when they met back in the 1950s? Me neither, but I was nevertheless impressed by this beverage menu for a 1956 meeting of the Second Restatement’s advisory committee. If nothing else, it establishes that the committee had the good sense to repair to an establishment that offered both manhattans and martinis by the gallon.

But, one might think, the fact that these drinks were available at the meeting doesn’t mean that they were consumed there. Well, before taking a position on this question, it might be wise to review this schedule for the session, which indicates that drinks were to be served before lunch, at lunch, and at the close of each day’s discussions.

(Images courtesy the University of Pennsylvania University Archives and Records Center, American Law Institute Archives [Restatement (Second) Category; Restatement (Second) Torts Record Group, Box 25, File Folder 25-2])

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5 Responses

  1. A.J. Sutter says:

    It’s not alcoholic, but another example of period excess: I recall one of my profs at UC/Hastings reminiscing about how his late colleague Wm. Prosser used to grade exams sitting on the deck of his boat, recording grades, and tossing the exam bluebooks into San Francisco Bay.

  2. A Non-E Mous says:

    The transition from legal realism to consensus legal thought all of the sudden makes so much more sense.

  3. George Conk says:

    Don’t forget my favorite: Comment i, of Section 402A, defining product defect:

    Good whiskey is not unreasonably dangerous merely because it will make some people drunk, and is especially dangerous to alcoholics; but bad whiskey, containing a dangerous amount of fuel oil, is unreasonably dangerous.
    Good tobacco is not unreasonably dangerous merely because the effects of smoking may be harmful; but tobacco containing something like marijuana may be unreasonably dangerous.

  4. When I was a law clerk in the summer of my college years in the late 1960s and early 1970s, this was still going on. I knew nothing about this but saw it with my own eyes when went to lunch and saw attorneys drinking. I then learned through my mentoring attorneys about the so-called 3 martini lunches. This was a big shock to a very impressionable young man. Mad Men probably still exists today for those with addiction issues, even though it is probably less acceptable then it was way back then.