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Philadelphia lawyer

a lawyer of outstanding ability at exploiting legal fine points and technicalities.
Origin of Philadelphia lawyer
1780-90, Americanism Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for philadelphia-lawyer
Historical Examples
  • philadelphia-lawyer, a Transatlantic limb of the law considered to be the very acme of acuteness.

    The Slang Dictionary John Camden Hotten
  • The phrase, Enough to puzzle a philadelphia-lawyer, means, enough to puzzle the sharpest man in the world.

    The Slang Dictionary John Camden Hotten
Idioms and Phrases with philadelphia-lawyer

Philadelphia lawyer

A shrewd attorney, adept at dealing with legal technicalities, as in It would take a Philadelphia lawyer to get him off. This expression dates from the late 1700s and, as lexicographer Richard H. Thornton observed: “Why members of the Philadelphia bar should be credited with superhuman sagacity has never been satisfactorily explained.”
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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