Vermont Bar Journal
Spring 2007 - #13.
THE LIGHTER SIDE OF THE LAW Peter Langrock: I Never Considered Any Other Occupation, Except as a Horse Veterinarian
THE VERMONT BAR JOURNAL SPRING 2007
THE LIGHTER SIDE OFTHE LAW Peter Langrock:"I Never Considered Any Other Occupation, Except as a Horse Veterinarian"by Virginia C. DownsThe following profile of Peter Langrock is the twentieth in a series published in the Journal under the general title of "Yankee Justice." The profiles are based on thirty-eight interviews of members of the Bench and Bar conducted by freelance writer and oral historian Virginia Downs in 1978 and 1979. The project was proposed at a meeting of an ad hoc committee of the Vermont bench and bar in April of 1978 to tie in with planned bicentennial celebrations of the state's legal beginnings in 1779. It was in that year that Stephen Bradley and Noah Smith were sworn in as Vermont's first official lawyers. The profiles include biographical material and anecdotes from the interviewees' legal activities.
"My father, Frank Langrock, was a physics teacher in the New York City school system, and was assistant manager of the Lake Dunmore Hotel in Salisbury in the summers, so I was half brought-up in New York City and half brought-up in Salisbury. Thus I was never a year-round resident of Vermont until I came to practice law. I liked Vermont a great deal more than New York. I did go to school in Vermont for part of the fifth grade, when I attended school in Middlebury and had Mary Hogan as my teacher. She was a legendary teacher. Mary Hogan spent her entire life in the Middlebury school system and continued serving after retirement as a consultant. Long before her death, the Middlebury Elementary School was named the Mary Hogan School and is known by that name today.
"My father wanted me to become a scientist. Math and science were my strong subjects, but surprisingly, on aptitude tests my interests went into humanities. I don't know when I decided to become a lawyer, but I never really considered any other occupation, except as a horse veterinarian. My first grade teacher wrote in my autograph book `to our country's first honest politician.' I don't know whether it was her kidding me about politics, but I guess somewhere along the line I expressed interest in politics.
"My father finally became reconciled that I was going to become a lawyer, and he said I should become a patent lawyer. I did work for the Casper Ames law firm as a clerk when I was in law school in Chicago. He had been commissioner of patents under President Truman.
"I went to the University of Chicago as an early entrant on the Ford Scholarship program when I was sixteen and entered law school after three years, graduating in the class of 1960. It was a six-year program altogether.
"One of the most important conversations I had in the course of law school was at a time when Ed Levy, who was dean and later attorney general, came to me and asked if I was interested in possibly clerking for Judge Hope, who was then the Chief Circuit Judge sitting in the Tenth Circuit in San Francisco. I was somewhat at a loss as to whether to go back to Middlebury and run for state's attorney or to follow up on the possibility of the clerkship. Luckily, I wandered through the stacks until I found one of the major influences in my life: Soia Mentschikoff, who later became dean at Miami and married Karl Llewelyn, one of the greats and the author of the Uniform Commercial Code. They were both professors at University of Chicago Law School. I went up to Soia and explained my dilemma, whether I should run for state's attorney back in Middlebury or go to San Francisco. She looked at me and said, `Where do you eventually want to live?' And I said, `Why, in Vermont.' And she said, `Why in the hell are you talking about going to San Francisco?'
"Two summers before graduating from law school, I met Joann who was attending the Middlebury College Summer French School. We dated that summer and she went off to France for a year. She came back and taught in Washington, and we decided we were going to get married. Joann is still my wife some forty seven years later. I graduated in June of 1960, we got married on the Fourth of July, and on the seventh day of July my wife and I started a door-to-door campaign for the office of state's attorney.
"I was running against the incumbent and another attorney for the...