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his pupils upon the principles of special pleading, but he steeps them in the very art itself, by giving them declarations and other pleadings to prepare. Occupied in this laboratory of the pleader, the student remains with him six months, or a year, or still longer if he is so disposed. He will then attend the chambers of a conveyancer, (if he did not do so before he went to the pleader), and there watch with surprise, and even awe, the costly mode of transferring real property, and the fashion of family settlements. He next requests one of the benchers of his inn to propose him; and, after the payment of certain heavy fees, and due proof that he has eaten the required number of term dinners, he is actually called to the bar. His circuit and quarter sessions having been next selected, the young barrister presents himself in those courts in a new wig and gown, and (if he has been industrious as a student) he is ready to draw declarations, pleas, or replications, and to argue upon the nicest subtleties of special pleading. But of the law administered in those courts he has not been invited to learn one tittle. The difficult and miscellaneous criminal law of England has formed no part of his education. His tutor was probably as ignorant as himself of that extensive branch of our laws which relates to the administration of the poor-laws. The law of evidence, also, which is in continual operation during every trial of every kind, has never been the subject of any regular instruction. So that he descends into the arena, learned in matters where knowledge is useless, and ignorant where learning is indispensable. Hence it happens that the first brief entrusted to the young barrister is often the cause of more alarm than satisfaction, because the dread of exposing his ignorance outweighs all the pleasure which his introduction to business would otherwise confer. It is in fact only now that his practical education commences. He is drifted away on the wide and menacing sea of severe competition, with no aid but his own faculties, and with no instruction but his own observation. Nisi Prius business is, for the most part, confined to counsel of some years' standing. The practice of the young barrister is therefore concerned with the criminal court of the Assizes and the courts of Quarter Sessions. It seems to him a hopeless task to reduce under any clear classification the miscellaneous laws with which they are conversant. He therefore gives up the search after principles, and degenerates into a practical casuist.
In defence of this existing school of law, it may be urged that as pleading is so considerable a branch of the common-law procedure, it is indispensable as a subject of study, and that a work which it requires skill to do must be learnt by doing. On μatórias Οτι μαθόντας δεὶ ποίειν, τοῦτο ποιουντες μάνθανομεν. We concede it. If the life
HOW SPECIAL PLEADERS ARE MADE.
of the art of pleading is protracted longer, it will still be essential for the student to incorporate that system in his mind. Yet even assuming that the special pleader will survive our day, surely the time is come when a higher and more philosophical education should be guaranteed to candidates for the bar. We say, the time is come, not in the idle sense in which the phrase is often used, but we say emphatically it is come, because the bar is now threatened with dispersion from London. The County Courts are so rapidly absorbing the litigation of the people, that either the superior courts must be made more popular, or large bodies of the bar will detach themselves from London, and from sheer necessity become attached to the country tribunals. What will then be the effect of the loss of the society of the most eminent of their brethren in the courts at Westminster, in consultations, in chambers, and in the robing rooms, upon men who have neither been indoctrinated as students with the general principles of law, nor tested as to their attainments by an examination for their call'? Alas! we believe that when the bar thus lose the great advantages derived from mutual communication and competition in the metropolis; and the opportunities now afforded them of seeing business done by the ablest men before the most accomplished judges-deprived of these advantages, and coming to settle in the country with no better education than the technicalities of the pleaders' chambers, we believe that they will fall into a position most damaging to their standing and their fame. From this calamity the advantages of the metropolitan bar have hitherto rescued that great and important body. Whilst concentrated in London, each individual has drawn something from the stock of credit earned by his greatest leaders. The eloquence and learning of our best advocates, such as Mansfield and Erskine, Scarlett and Brougham, Follett and Thesiger, have shed a lustre over the whole profession, and concealed its defects from the public eye. The monopoly of the legal business of England in the superior courts; a high scale of fees; vehement rivalry; and the prospect of the highest places in the state, have served to stimulate our great men to educate themselves for greatness. But now when the monopoly of business is broken down, and the bar seems about to be dispersed into the provinces, what can uphold its position there but the vantage-ground of the best legal education? The prestige of the profession will soon desert it in the scramble for business in the country towns. The provincial barrister will reflect none of the light of his eloquent and accomplished brethren in London. The son of the country gentleman who now comes from London to the circuit, counts for something
more than he is worth, and enjoys some of that consideration which belongs to the whole body. But when he is settled down in his county to ply for practice in the local courts, he will count for what he is worth individually, and no more. His legal education may or not have been a farce, but the attorney of the court will boast that he has passed an examination. How can he maintain his proper relative position, amidst the undignified squabbling of petty lawsuits, unless he has passed the test of a strict examination, and earned the badge of high attainments?
But there is another reason, besides their impending degradation, why the education of the bar should be placed on a better footing. For if the monopoly of business has been abolished, the monopoly of high preferment is continued to them. The seven judges in Equity, the masters in Chancery, the fifteen common-law judges, the masters of the courts, the colonial judges, the attorney and solicitor generals at home and in the colonies, the sixty judges of the County Courts, the commissioners in bankruptcy and insolvency, the whole body of revising barristers with their lucrative sinecures, the twentyone police magistrates of London, besides innumerable places which it would be tedious to enumerate, are selected exclusively from the bar. The emoluments derived from these appointments amount probably to half a million per annum. Surely, then, the country has a right to demand from the benchers of the inns of court that they shall not confer the title to all these splendid appointments, until the candidate for the degree of the bar has satisfied them that he is adequately instructed. It is idle to urge any longer, that barristers will find their own level in the great arena of business and competition. It may have been so in years gone by, when there was some proportion between the business and the barristers. But now the business is in the hands of a small minority, and the object of the idle majority is to obtain some appointment from the government. And, in truth, those appointments are so numerous, and the entire numbers of the common-law bar, even now, so few, that it is rare to find either a diligent man or a man of influence and family who may not reasonably expect a good place. For if the total number of prizes in this profession are compared with those in any other, it will appear, that in proportion to the muster of the members they far exceed the rest, not excepting even the church. This is, in fact, the reason that, notwithstanding the falling off of civil business, greater crowds than ever are rushing continually to the bar. Those facetious persons who are ever sneering at the briefless barrister' are little aware that the briefless' is not always broken-hearted for lack
LEGAL EDUCATION—WHY IT SHOULD BE GOOD.
of briefs. Many of our young barristers are yearly passing into lucrative situations in the colonies, and about seventy others divide some 14,000l. a year for revising, in the course of a few days in October, the lists of parliamentary voters. These last appointments, of the value of 2007. a year each, are little more than sinecures to that amount, and serve to place a large body of the junior bar in easy and independent circumstances. In these facts we discern another reason why the inns of court should bestir themselves. They have no excuse to plead for their neglect of the work of education. They are the successors of a great juridical university, which flourished under our Henrys and our Edwards, in which every needful provision was made for the study of the laws. Fortescue says that in the Inns of Chancery and of Court, the knights and barons did use to place their children, though they did not desire them to get their living by its practice; and that in his time there were about two thousand students at these several inns, all of whom were gentlemen born. Here exercises were performed, lectures read, and degrees were at length conferred in the common law, as at other universities in the canon and civil. All these customs have now fallen into disuse. No academical discipline remains, nor are the students of the present day required to attend anything but their dinners. Yet the great chartered inns, which have the exclusive right to call to the bar, have ample means at their command to endow professorships in every department. Let them consider the novel position of the bar, and their own responsibilities in connexion with it. Let these societies return to their collegiate aspect, and having founded professorships of common law, criminal law, evidence, pleading (if it is not abolished), and perhaps of civil and international law also, let them institute examinations, which shall prevent the call of all candidates who are imperfectly instructed, and distinguish also by special honours all displays of extraordinary learning.
It has been shown, that the threatened dispersion of the bar and the interest of the nation in the distribution of preferment are both closely connected with the improvement of the education of the bar. There is yet another reason, of great weight, why that education should not be neglected. No liberal profession is placed, by the nature of its occupation, in circumstances so delicate and so dangerous. In a sermon, once addressed to the bar of the northern circuit, by the late Sydney Smith, he has pointed out, with great force, the peculiar points of the profession. It is naturally the worst part of mankind,' says he, 'who are seen in courts of justice, and with whom the pro
'fessors of the law are most conversant. The perpetual recurrence of crime and guilt insensibly connects itself with the ' recollections of the human race. It almost seems as if men were bound together by the relations of fraud and crime. Hence it is natural to conceive an exaggerated opinion of the 'faults and follies of mankind.' Here is one danger incurred by the busy barrister. The morality of the defence of prisoners, especially when they are either certainly or inferentially guilty, is another great difficulty of the profession. Every one must have felt that the defender of Courvoisier, and Reid, and Rush, had tasks of great delicacy, professional as well as moral. We are told, on one hand, that the utmost that can be done for a guilty client is to point out the defects of the evidence against him. We are told, on the other, by Lord Brougham, that it is the duty of a counsel to protect his client at all hazards and costs to all others, and, among others, to himself, and he is not to regard the alarm, the suffering, the torment, the destruction, which he may bring upon any other. Authoritative counsel and advice are deeply needed by young barristers upon these points of morality and etiquette. The deepest interests of mankind are often placed in their hands in their criminal practice; and they are left to themselves to reconcile the privileges of the defender and their duty to the accused with the dictates of Christianity and conscience. In short, as every trial presents a better and a weaker side, so it involves, in some measure, these questions of moral and professional duty. Therefore, the authorities to whom the call to the bar is intrusted are bound also to instruct their candidates in this delicate branch of their duty.
We have now indicated two great subjects connected with the law, which cry aloud for improvement and reform. These were, the present state of the proceedings of the courts of common law, and the system of education for the bar in connexion with its new circumstances. But there are also other branches of the law which require to be speedily regenerated. First, there is the great question of reform in the Courts of Equity. Want of space forbids any enlarged discussion of this and the remaining topics. But this, at least, we may assert: that such a change in the proceedings and costs of these tribunals as will bring their powers within the reach of the humblest suitor, without peril to his fortune and his welfare, is the very least that will satisfy society. Interested as our population is in transactions subject to this jurisdiction, we are convinced that a reform of this extent would be the greatest boon that the legislature could confer. The man of capital lends it upon mortgage; the needy man borrows upon