When I'm not writing about movies, I keep fairly busy. I'm no lawyer, but without going into detail, I have some experience with various legal things. I know enough of the law to probably make a total fool of myself. I've seen many a court case, and weaved through many a hearing. But I never thought my geekery and my legal knowledge would ever come together, until now.
Wired has a very interesting article about the contract that Bilbo Baggins entered with into the Dwarves, and if you're both an attorney and a LOTR geek, it makes for fascinating reading. Tolkien and legal writing, at first glance, would seem to go together like ice cream and asparagus, but attorney and author James Daily (THE LAW AND SUPERHEROES) bought the film replica (available on Amazon) and used his considerable legal talents to analyze it. I'm all for fandom, but even this is a bit much for me.
Even so, what's most interesting is Daily's opinion about the One Ring, found by Bilbo in Gollum's cave. Since Bilbo was still a member of the company, it stands to reaosn that anything that he finds that could be considered treasure isn't exactly his, since he signed the contract. He's entitled to 1/14th of anything he "burgles". However, because the Ring is "specialist equipment", and thus used in the course of his duties...
Specialist equipment required in the execution of duties in his professional role as Burglar shall be purchased, procured, purlioned [sic] or obtained by Burglar, by whatsoever method Burglar sees fit.
So Bilbo's in the clear there. But considering some of the events later in the book (and assuming in the movies), I'm curious if Bilbo doesn't breach the contract in some way. There are Nazgul... and then there are lawyers. I'll leave it to you to judge who is worse. (Personally, I'll take the Nazgul.)
It's a fascinating article, and those with a legal bent will likely enjoy it. For those who aren't Clarence Darrow and Atticus Finch, well, you just have to appreciate the work on display regardless.