As Oklahoma was settled, the growing population supported a small community of lawyers. One lawyer became quite successful, handling disputes between ranchers and farmers. He sent his son away for college, and was pleased when his son returned after graduation, seeking to work in his office to figure out if he wanted to be a lawyer. The lawyer welcomed his son into the firm, and gave him a job as a clerk.
On his son's first day, the first client to call on the lawyer was a man,deeply tanned from years of toil under the Oklahoma sun. His hand were rough and calloused, and he was dressed for the range. The man explained, "I am a ranch hand at the Smith Ranch, where I have worked since I was very young. For all of those years, I have tended to all of the animals on the ranch, including a small herd of cows. I raised the cows, fed them, and cared for them. It has always been my understanding that I was the owner of the cows. Mr. Smith died, and his son has inherited the ranch. He believes that, as the cows were raised on his family's land and were fed his family's hay, that they are his cows. I need you to help me."
The lawyer smiled, and put his hand on the man's shoulder. "I have heard enough, and I will take your case. Don't worry about the cows." After expressing extreme gratitude, the workman left the lawyer's office.
A short time later, the next client arrived. He was young, and well-groomed, and appeared quite wealthy. He explained to the lawyer, "My name is Smith, and I own a ranch near here. For many years, one of my ranch hands has taken care of my family's herds, including some cows. The cows were raised on my land, fed my hay, and they are obviously my cows. Yet the hand believes that, as he raised them and cared for them, they are his. I would like to resolve the matter of the ownership of the cows.:
The lawyer smiled and said, "I have heard enough, and I will take your case. Don't worry about the cows."
After the man left the office, the lawyer's son came over to his father, looking puzzled. "I don't understand," he said. "I may not know much about the law, but it seems to me that there is a serious problem with the cows, and you just told both sides not to worry."
The lawyer replied, "I told them not to worry about the cows, son, and they shouldn't worry about the cows." Chuckling, the lawyer explained, "The cows will be ours."
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