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could be admitted to practice law merely on motion and without any particular legal qualifications. But we have progressed gradually, requiring a certain term of study, and then requiring two years in a law school, or two years spent in a law office, and now the requirement is three years of study in a law school or its equivalent in a law office. The fundamental learning has also been gradually changed, so that now it is necessary to have at least a high school education.
I want to say that my experience in North Dakota has demonstrated beyond peradventure that the requirements of a better fundamental knowledge, of a longer term of service, has unquestionably brought us a number of men of greater legal acumen, and also I maintain that a high standard fundamentally in general knowledge, and a high standard in legal education tends to bring before the Board candidates who are of greater moral stamina, because certainly we ought to be willing to admit, and the history of experience certainly tends to demonstrate to us, that ordinarily a man, who is well qualified in the fundamentals, and who has devoted a good length of time to legal study, is perforce a man of greater moral stamina than one who has never attained or done the like, other considerations being equal.
To me the great inquiry is: How may a board of Bar examiners inquire with reference to the moral fitness of candidates? How may methods be adopted, so that the young candidate seeking admission to the Bar may be qualified to enter immediately upon the practice of law? It seems to me, therefore, that the remarks of the gentleman from Pennsylvania are in line at this time, that some method of practice courts, pursued perhaps at institutions for the study of law, would be a matter for proper consideration.
L. J. Nash, of Wisconsin:
Mr. Chairman, I am not at present a member of any board of law examiners, although I was a member of the state board in Wisconsin for seven years. There happens to be no Wisconsin gentleman in the room as far as I know, and I would like to speak on this subject if I may.
The subject of the moral qualifications of men applying for admission to the Bar has been a subject very much in my mind, and in the seven years that I examined young men I found that not a fraction of one per cent could be disbarred or refused admission on account of their moral character. I found that the young men were all right until temptation hurt them, but temptation does not come until they are in harness. If you put detectives on the track of these young men, as was intimated in the remarks of one of the gentlemen here, you may harm them all through life oftener than you will help the profession. Suppose it be true that a young man has committed some little offence. He may nevertheless have a better moral fiber that will enable him afterwards to withstand temptation than the young man who has never had any temptation, and whose record is all right; but let the young man have a chance. As to these rules that have been talked about for testing the moral fiber of a man, I suggest this other remedy: Make your methods efficient for removing men from the Bar. I think that will do the work far better than any detective or any character committee. Why, in the great stretch of sparsely settled country in the West those committees could do hardly anything at all. You might make them work in New York or in Chicago to some extent, but they would, I think, be immensely expensive and of very little use in the West.
After further discussion by Richard W. Irwin and Nathaniel W. Ladd, of Massachusetts, Charles H. Hartshorne, of New Jersey, Lincoln B. Haskin, of New York, Z. T. Rudulph, of Alabama, and William Righter Fisher, of Pennsylvania, on motion of W. O. Hart, of Louisiana, the meeting adjourned until 2 o'clock P. M. Wednesday, September 3, 1913.
CHARLES M. HEPBURN,
EDITORIAL NOTE.-The second session of the Section of Legal Education was held on Wednesday, September 3, at 2 o'clock, at the Royal Victoria College in conjunction with the Association of American Law Schools. The joint session was presided over by
Henry M. Bates, of Michigan, President of the Association of American Law Schools. A paper was read by William H. Taft, of Connecticut, on "The Social Importance of Proper Standards for Admission to the Bar." Another paper was read by Ezra R. Thayer, of Massachusetts, on "Law Schools and Bar Examinations." The proceedings of the joint session, including the papers, are reported herein in connection with the proceedings of the Association of American Law Schools. (See pages 885 to infra.)
ADDRESS OF CHAIRMAN.
WALTER GEORGE SMITH.
Since the formation of this Section in 1893, year after year papers have been read by teachers and practitioners of the law that have cast searching light upon the subject of legal education in all its branches. I cannot hope to add anything to the wealth of information, based upon years of study and experience that has been contributed by distinguished jurists during all this time. The most superficial examination of the work of the Section and of the Association of American Law Schools and of the Committee on Legal Education of the American Bar Association will show that it has been powerfully effective in crystallizing the sentiment of the profession in favor of the highest practicable standards both for preliminary and strictly professional education.
In its report last year the Committee on Legal Education summarized the advances in legal education as being:
"1. The recognition of the superiority of the law school over the office preparation for the Bar...
"2. The recognition of a definite period of legal study upon the completion of which, and not before, the applicant can apply for admission to the Bar..
"3. The lengthening of the law school course of study to three years..
"4. The changed method of law instruction, which has substituted in so many of the law schools of the country the study of law through cases, either as an exclusive system, or in combination with use of text books, in lieu of the old system of lectures and text books.
"5. The development of a class of law teachers who are withdrawn from law practice, and whose vocation it is to teach law."
In the lifetime of men, who are still in full vigor and of ripe professional experience, there has been a revolution of sentiment in regard to the proper preparation for admission to the Bar. The old, and in its day effective, system of office education has given
place, to that of law schools, not alone in large centers of population, but to no small extent throughout the country. The courses in these prosperous schools have been made thorough, and are the constant subject of improvement as experience shows their defects. The theory of their teaching is to train the student in the fundamental principles of the law as it obtains in all of the states, leaving to his individual industry the task of familiarizing himself with the local law peculiar to the jurisdiction in which he intends to practice. Thus "the law schools of the country are national and not local." They draw their students from all parts of the country, and one of the not least valuable fruits of their work is the spread of a common professional feeling and attitude of mind towards the civilization that has been the out-growth of the ideals upon which justice under the law is or should be administered.
The growth and development of law schools since the humble beginning of Judge Reeve, at Litchfield, Connecticut, to the present day has been traced by other hands. As compared with the rapid growth of other educational institutions, it may seem to have been slow, but since 1877, when the course at Harvard was made to cover two years and preliminary examinations became requisite, the advance in standards has been as rapid as conditions would bear. As was said by an eminent teacher and is the common experience of all who have given the subject of legal education any consideration:
"The first among obstacles which have retarded development of law schools, is the strange notion of an inherent, natural right of the citizen to practice law dominant in the public mind and widespread in the profession.""
While sentiment is changing, as is well shown by the interesting comments from all parts of the United States on the proposed "standard rules for admission to the Bar," which will come before you for further consideration at this session, there is still a strong feeling that the door of opportunity will be unfairly closed against deserving and ambitious young men, if a longer time and more stringent examinations are made imperative.
1 Rep. Com. Leg. Ed., 37 A. B. A., 605.
2 Roscoe Pound.