Oh, I doubt it`s that complicated, but, as you suggest, just a pretty obvious juxtaposition of rhyming words. I think the term is used more good-natured than hostile. It is certainly not a phrase you would use to express your fear in the presence of a jurisprudential genius, but a lawyer called a « legal beagle » would not be offended either. (By the way, « legal-eagle » is by far the less used of the two.) Rod, a 34-year-old bachelor, was sued for $15 million by one of his many ex-ladies, Britt Ekland, aided by the legal eagle who also shot Lee Marvin. However, Rod settled out of court before the case went to court. The term « Legal Beagle » also appears in the number of 1. In November 1946, « Legal Eagle » appeared twice in the same general period – the February 14, 1947 issue and the May 16, 1947 issue. In the 1920s, the character of Gaston La Roche (or Larotta) became known as the « legal eagle » in the musical Wildflower and also as the « legal beagle » in one sentence – albeit in a piece of music in which his legal wisdom comes into play. In 1939, Groucho Marx`s petty lawyer, J. Cheever Loophole, may have helped revive the « legal eagle » of American slang in At the Circus. And in the 1940s, Earle Stanley Gardner`s mysterious lawyer, Perry Mason, seems to have been associated, at least temporarily, with the term « legal beagle. » It`s not clear if these three famous fictional Legal Eagles/Beagles are responsible for the emergence and popularization of « Legal Eagle » and « Legal Beagle » in American slang, but I think all three may have played an important role. BIANCA AND ALBERTO: He will hunt them like a beagle.
« Nothing interesting to report. » From here we can see that Bill is still the legal eagle of Lynchburg and still has a wife and two children. The term « Legal Eagle » also appeared in the December 2, 1940 and May 20, 1941 issues of Princeton Alumni Weekly. A bookstore ad in Michigan Raw Review (1941) [combined excerpts] offers this temptation: 3. Did another famous beagle or detective dog inspire the legal beagle strike? And guess who their lawyer is. Perry Mason, of course – the « legal beagle » with a list of acquittals as long as D.A. Mason`s face is the only person in the world who believes his client is innocent. So what does the lady do? She FLAMES him! The earliest correspondence I found for « legal beagle » comes from an unidentified article in Publication of the American Dialect Society (1944) annotating the sentence [combined excerpts]: Now Electric Traction Hole-In-One Club, has a « legal eagle » A. L.
Vencill, of the legal department of the Union Switch and Signal Company, negotiated a hole in a hit at the Edgewood Country Club, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 19, 1928. Lighter isn`t suggesting that the legal beagle was born in response to the legal eagle as an even more joking term, but I think it probably was. Harold Wentworth & Stuart Flexner, Dictionary of American Slang, first edition (1960), attach slightly different meanings to the two terms: I have done a series of searches for « legal beagle » and could not find a correspondence older than the half-absurd one quoted in the question posted by « Imptorials » in the Implement & Tractor Trade Journal (December 24, 1921): These first two references to Perry Mason as a « legal beagle » seem to be a game with his amazing abilities. to discover the truth in a mysterious entangled ability that makes him appear partly as a lawyer and partly as a bloodhound. But why « legal beagle » instead of « legal bloodhound »? Aside from the appeal of rhyme, I think the writer was probably influenced by the existence of the « legal eagle, » which has been increasingly used as an American slang term since the late 1930s. The research also uncovered an American Bar Center book published by the American Law Student Association in 1958. There were three entries worth mentioning in this book: one was a publication called « Legal Eagle » at American University, the second was a publication called « Legal Beagle » at Washington College of Law, and the third was « The Legal Eagle » at North Carolina College. A few years earlier, in one of the 1952 American Eagle newsletters, the term Legal Eagle appeared in a short blurb about one of the well-known men in the forest products industry. As the quote suggests, an eagle was a $10 gold coin and a two-headed eagle was a $20 gold coin. The « legal » modifier in front of each name simply indicates that government specifications required the weight of each piece to meet the specification to be legal tender. The « legal eagle » here is not a lawyer or even a human being.
1. Is the Beagle variant a play on words, a moon green or an eggspeck? An early striking example of « Legal Eagle » appears in a review of an American piece of music called Wildflower in the Sydney [New South Wales] Morning Herald (December 1, 1924): The most fascinating case of « legal beagle, » however, is the one involving Perry Mason, the mysterious defender of Gardner`s many novels.