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When the student has passed all his examinations and paid all his fees, his name is screened or posted in the hall, the benchers' room and the treasurer's office, not only of the Inn of which he is a student, but of the other Inns. Every name is thus subject to the scrutiny of the benchers of all the Inns, as well as of the other members of the Bar. Finally, presuming that no objection is taken to his application, having taken a further declaration that he has not during the period of his studentship exercised, and will not while a barrister carry on, any of the prohibited occupations before mentioned, and being approved by the benchers of his Inn, the student is called and may at last don his wig and gown as a junior counsel.
Proceedings leading to disbarment are furtunately rare, and indeed but little spoken of, and enough has been said regarding the manner of becoming admitted to indicate why this is so. The usual practice is not to disbar absolutely, but to suspend for a period, although there is in effect not much difference, as such suspension would be a blow from which no member of the profession could recover.
The procedure at the investigations is familiar to very few, for not only are the facts elicited, but the proceedings regarded as confidential, only the result being communicated to the judges and screened in the Hall and Common Room of each Inn.
It may, however, be said that the consideration and dealing with a complaint are, in the first place, solely competent to the benchers of the respondent's Inn, who may disbench one of their own number or disbar a barrister.
In a Privy Council case Lord Wynford remarks: "In England the courts of justice are relieved from the unpleasant duty of disbarring advocates in consequence of the power of calling to the Bar and disbarring having been in remote times delegated to the Inns of Court. The power of suspending from practice must we think be incidental to admitting to practice."
At the hearing of the complaint before the benchers the respondent is present, but cannot conduct his own defence and
"Petition from Antiqua, P. C. Knapp, 267.
must be represented by a member of his Inn; it seems, however, that he can call on any member to take up his case. There is an appeal, to the judges as visitors, but it is said that there is no instance of such an appeal in late times; indeed, it is clear that there would be very little likelihood of success. In an appeal heard before the judges in 1846 it was, however, laid down that the benchers, in disbenching one of their own number or in disbarring a barrister, must assign a reason for their action.'
We have thus very briefly traced the history of the power of the Inns of Court to say who should or should not be entitled to the privileges which their members alone can exercise.
We have seen that, though supervised by the judges, not indeed as judges, but as visitors, they are independent of any law. We have seen that they are perhaps the most conservative institutions in an ultraconservative country. Fortunately it has always been their aim that the social and intellectual standard required of our profession should never suffer from this conservatism, and we can truly say that they have nourished traditions of honor and effort which cannot fail to inspire.
'Appeal of A. Haward, Esq.
A MORE COMPLETE INQUIRY INTO THE MORAL CHARACTER OF APPLICANTS FOR ADMISSION TO THE BAR.
CLARENCE A. LIGHTNER,
There are some arguments worthy of consideration in favor of an open Bar, with no restriction except punishment for misrepresentation as to education or qualifications. The medical profession in England flourished with these limitations. One large advantage of this method is that the Bar would, in that case, not be in the position which it now occupies of vouching for the ability and honesty of its members. The public would understand that in choosing counsel they must look out for themselves. The maxim in the law of sales, "caveat emptor," has much to recommend it.
There is a current saying in the one jurisdiction where this system prevails that "any man who has character enough to run a saloon, has character enough to be a lawyer, if he can vote," and yet the deliberate opinion of a conservative member of that Bar is as follows:
"I have your letter of June 17th, asking my opinion as to whether the Bar of this state is on a lower plane than the Bar of other jurisdictions in the matter of conscience and intellect, and, if so, whether it is due to the fact that we have no requirements for admission to practice law. In my opinion the Bar of this state ranks as high mentally, morally and otherwise as that of other states or countries."
While some may think that the opinion is from a prejudiced source, I have no information which leads me to believe that it is incorrect.
However, this is hardly a practical question at the present time, because the tendency, whether desirable or not, is overwhelming in favor of subjecting applicants for admission to the Bar to tests or examinations. The important question for those who are interested in the character of the Bar to determine is whether the standards required and the application thereof to the applicants are accomplishing their purpose.
Now, the only purpose which will justify these examinations is, in the interest of the public, to secure ability and integrity in the Bar.
The qualifications that should be required are, evidently first, ability and education, i. e., mental qualifications, and, second, character or ethics, i. e., moral qualifications.
During the past twenty years increasing attention has been given to the mental qualifications of applicants for admission to practice, until at the present time (waiving the question of the considerate and reasonable application of the standards set in the several jurisdictions) the requirements are, generally, quite sufficient. If these standards should be raised it is along the lines of general education rather than of technical learning. Any young man of ordinary ability who has received a thorough academic education, and has learned thereby how to use his mind, will be more creditable as a member of the Bar without any preparation in law than will a young man of insufficient general education, who has spent his time in memorizing law books and judicial decisions. The former will, at least, have intelligence enough to know what he should not do, an advantage frequently found wanting in the latter.
These views may not meet with general approval. Perhaps, fortunately, this is not essential to the matter at hand. Whatever opinion may be entertained upon the question of mental qualifications, the moral equipment of the applicant is of greater importance. Mental attainments are, in large part, of concern only to the individual client. Clients demand in their counsel sufficient learning and skill to produce the desired result; if convenient, within the limits of the law and morals, but at all events, the desired result.
Moral character, on the other hand, is of more consequence to the Bar and public at large.
If it be conceded that many lawyers delay justice and clog the judicial machinery, because of their stupidity and lack of technical education, it must, on the other hand, be admitted that the astuteness of brilliant counsel, devoting their talents to the service of private interests, keeps both courts and legislatures busy in the effort to prevent the miscarriage of justice.
And yet the lawyer's duty to his client now is, and for generations past has been, the obligation upon which the larger emphasis has been placed, even by members of the Bar. Most of the eulogies pronounced upon the Bar as a profession bear upon the lawyer's loyalty to his client. On this theme many touching tributes are found in the speeches of lawyers from all ranks of the profession, including members of the Supreme Court. These sentiments are a favorite subject of commencement addresses. The injury resulting therefrom is apparent. The young man about to enter the profession acquires a false perspective of his duty, on the one hand, to his client, and, on the other hand, to the public, including the courts and his associates.
The Bar might well learn in this matter from the medical profession. The fiduciary relation of physician and patient calls for as high a standard of fidelity by the professional man as does that of lawyer and client. The difference between the professions is that faithfulness to this trust is accepted by the medical profession and its members as a matter of course-certainly not as the chief excellence of the profession. Differing from the law, the medical profession claims commendation for itself and its members because of eminent services rendered to the public at large. Individualism characterizes the legal profession, but an esprit de corps which calls for larger views of service is manifest in the medical profession of today. It results therefrom, at least in large part, that medicine, with its record of service, is the most popular profession with the general public, while the Bar, living chiefly for itself and its clients, has become the most unpopular. The undue importance given to the lawyer's duty to his client easily leads the young practitioner into unprofessional