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Grover Cleveland Ladner's Legacy in Pennsylvania Lives On

Pennsylvania has an enduring treasure its neighbors Ohio and West Virginia don’t: a horn book on real estate conveyancing. And the lessons contained within continue to guide oil and gas lawyers, landmen, and laypersons in all four corners of the Commonwealth.


In 1913, Philadelphia attorney and eventual Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice Grover Cleveland Ladner published “Conveyancing in Pennsylvania,” a compilation of his lessons from teaching a course on the subject. His guide, intended for use by lawyers and laymen to apply law to the conveyance of real property, has been republished six times over 106 years, and is still in use today. A regularly updated loose-leaf edition sells online for $399.


“The dangerous shoals have been pointed out and the method to avoid them set forth,” Ladner wrote in the preface of the 1913 edition. “Liberal use has been made of forms to illustrate the text and many more have been added in an appendix, so it is hoped every form used in modern conveyancing will be found included; a convenience which will probably be appreciated by the busy lawyer, conveyancer and beginner alike.”


Subjects include types of property ownership, documents that affect property, estates, and the recording procedure. In 1941, University of Toledo law professor Robert Brigham wrote a review of the second edition for the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, which said Ladner’s book withstood time and turbulence.


“War, prosperity, a boom, a panic and a Depression have succeeded one another,” Brigham wrote. “The field of real estate and conveyancing reflects these events, not only in changed law, but in changed policies of large lenders on real estate security. Judge Ladner has followed all of this closely and where relevant, he sets it forth concisely and accurately.”


Grover Cleveland Ladner was born January 8, 1885 and got his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1906. He practiced with the firm of Ladner and Ladner, located in the historic Land and Title Building in downtown Philadelphia. Subsequently, he was a member of the firm Clark, Ladner, Fortenbaugh and Young.


Ladner was a longtime sportsman and conservationist, and in 1939, he was presented with the Meritorious Service Medal of Pennsylvania for his involvement in writing the state’s pure stream and fish and game laws.


Ladner died of glioblastoma on May 26, 1954, predeceased by his wife, Mary, and survived by one daughter, Katherine Helen Ladner.

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