And do as adversaries do in law,
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew, 1.2.280), Tranio
April 23, 1564, is recognized as the birth date of William Shakespeare. Although not trained as a lawyer, Shakespeare’s plays featured lawyers, court rooms and legal proceedings. Protection of his plays and his business interests would have required a sophisticated knowledge of the law for a layman. On ascending the throne in 1603, James I granted a royal patent to Shakespeare’s acting company, which changed its name to the “King’s Men” in his honor.
You can read Shakespeare’s plays and search digital text at the Folger Shakespeare Library’s digital collection.
For more on Shakespeare and the law, see:
Kill All the Lawyers? Shakespeare’s Legal Appeal, by Daniel J. Kornstein
Shakespeare for Lawyers: A Practical Guide for Quoting the Bard, by Margaret Graham Tebo