Upon moving to Springfield in 1837,
Abraham Lincoln began the practice of law as the junior partner of John
Todd Stuart. Stuart was an established Springfield attorney, but took
on a partner to free himself from enough legal work to facilitate his
run for Congress. The offices of Stuart and Lincoln occupied a single
room on the second floor of the building pictured here. With Stuart
often absent from the premises, Lincoln found himself obliged to master
the details of a general law practice rapidly. He gained valuable experience
representing a wide variety of clients in divergent types of cases.
Lincoln also traveled the judicial circuit that included Bloomington
and other central Illinois communities. This circuit allowed a single
judge and a number of lawyers based in a larger community, like Springfield,
to provide individuals in outlying areas with access to legal council
and judicial proceedings on a regular schedule. In 1839 Stuart left
to begin his term in the United States Congress, leaving Lincoln to
run the firm himself.