« PreviousContinue »
is the data that will justify the assertion The circumstance seems, however, to that the corrupt and incompetent will be have been overlooked by those who urge found in larger proportion among those a high school or college course as a panwho had but a common school founda- acea for these ills, that the most widely tion for their professional studies ? It pernicious activities of the lawyer have will not do to plead the almost impossi- been in a field where the best talent will bility of securing such data. This might be secured at any price, even that of enexcuse ignorance; it will not justify as- dowing universities and schools of jurissertion. Nor is the burden of proof to prudence for its incubation. be met by mere a priori intendments in No one denies the value of college edfavor of the high school or college train- ucation. On the contrary, except in rare ing, assuming other things to be equal. cases when his time may have been more
Other things never are equal in this profitably occupied, every lawyer would world, and the average man, like the be the better for it. The time is passing, economic unit of which we hear so much, however, when fragments of the alphabet is an abstraction, not a person. Some appended to the surname will be accepted have gone so far as to hint that the out- as a guaranty of moral superiority, or a put of the night school, having a two- diploma lend dignity to the really culturyear course and requiring nothing more ed or protect pretence from deserved than a common school education, is re- ridicule. sponsible for the ambulance chaser and Of the successful practitioners, oneother professional undesirables. It may half, perhaps, started their professional be permitted to suggest, in this connec- careers without the advantage of a coltion, that it is only since the typical as- lege or even a high school training. Of sociation school of jurisprudence quite the 15,000 young men in the American recently abandoned the practice of ad- law schools, perhaps an equal percentage mitting students irrespective of prelimi- are deprived of these preliminary adnary bookwork, and of awarding the vantages. Is the bar, as a whole, or are bachelor's degree at the end of the sec- these thousands of candidates for admisond year, that the bar, which survived sion to its ranks, to be told that the bar these practices for half a century, began is decadent, and that arbitrary, inelasto degenerate very alarmingly as soon as tic, and un-American barriers are to be these schools raised their standards of
erected against them in the name of legal admission. It would seem to an impar- reform? It is, to say the least, disingential mind that a fairer inference could be uous, to agree that we should hold fast drawn from the coincidence of the un- to the principal that every young Ameridignified race between the damage suit can should have a chance to become a lawyer and the claims adjuster to the first-rate man, when by that you mean a house of mourning and the hospital cas- well-to-do father, able to support him at ualty ward, with the introduction into a distance from home and at considerable our crowded cities of the rapid transit expense, during an unproductive period juggernaut. It is only in his outward which you tend rather to lengthen than seeming, and his favored field of opera- curtail. tions, that the shyster of yesterday differs The only excuse for such a position from the shyster of today. Dodson and would lie in the fact, if it were a fact, Fogg, of happy memory, and Quirk, that in no other way are first-rate lawGammon, and Snap, are immortal types. yers ever turned out. Is the bar to be asked seriously to accept the suggestion dates for admission in favor of the easy, that botany or embroidery, elementary but wholly unjustifiable, method of makalgebra or a bowing acquaintance with ing intendments in favor of this or that a modern language, even Latin or the antecedent qualification. prevalent philosophy of Cant, will prove an inhibition to the impulse to chase am
The Three-Year and High-School Cerbulances or reorganize helpless minori
tificate Requirement for the Bar ties out of their holdings?
Examination. By some it has been thought that char- We have already discussed the liberal acter is best tempered to withstand the education qualification from the moral shock of worldly temptation by early guaranty standpoint. If nothing is said participation in the struggle for exist- concerning the value per se to the practicence, which, as Huxley has remarked, ing lawyer of any one or all of the topics goes on as relentlessly beneath the polish- therein usually included, it is because no ed surface of modern society, as among stress is laid upon it by even the most the wild inhabitants of the woods. Be- ardent of its advocates. It only remains cause others assert that character is best to view it from the standpoint of alleged upbuilt during the sheltered life, is the indispensible mental training. bar to be asked to assume that the ma- Would it not be absurd to say that the ture, self-supporting, and sometime fam- man who demonstrates that he has reaily-supporting, young man is at any dis- sonably mastered the bookwork of his advantage in this particular with the high profession lacked the preliminary mental school or college graduate, merely be training to enable him to do so? If it be cause the former has had no opportunity, objected that examination is a test rather during early life, to study such classic of learning than of ability, this remains models of combined culture and morality equally true of the high school or college as the Hetairia of the Greek academies? examination. It is certainly easier to
The duty of the bar is plain. Its con- cram for one or two subjects at a time cern is not with the competition for stu- than for the wide field covered by the bar dents between night law schools and examination. schools of jurisprudence. It is not pri- Turning now to the three-year requiremarily concerned that some thousands of ment: young Americans, plagued with indis- Is it not equally absurd to require of all creet ambition, aspire to the gown and candidates the same period, or any arbieven to the woolsack, nor that they may trary period, of previous study? The dube mistaken in thinking they can do, with ty of the bar would seem to be to asceronly a common school education, some tain how much the candidate knows, not intelligence, and much concentrated in- how long he took in learning it. If he apdustry, what the majority of the Ameri- pear to be sufficiently equipped, no incan bar, without, in many cases, even the tendments should be made against him; assistance of the night school, has been if not, then is illustrated the fallacy of doing for over a century before it be- any intendment in his favor based upon came degenerate. The thing that does the number of months or years put to so concern the bar, and which concerns it
poor a use. and the public deeply, is that it no longer Again, will some one please explain the continue to shirk its duty of testing the theory upon which precisely the same moral and professional fitness of candi- period of antecedent study in Harvard law school is required as must be spent Schools was founded in 1900 by a number in running errands in a law office? of the important university schools of
In short, let us substitute tests for these jurisprudence, and some few others, deintendments. Let the examination, cov- lighted to be noticed in really distinguishering the whole field of the practitioners' ed educational circles. The purpose of duties, be as searching and practical as this association was announced to be the possible. Let it as far as may be include improvement of legal education in the the drawing of pleadings in proper form American law schools generally. The and in good English, as well as the prepa- idea was certainly a most commendable ration of such papers as the young prac- one. Much good might have been derived titioner might be expected to draw with- from a congress of all American law out the aid of his library. Let the same schools; their faculties representing all sort and the same degree of care to ex- shades of opinion and qualified to speak clude the dishonest be taken by the bar, as for students of varying characteristics a prudent business man uses in the se- and antecedents. The value of deliberalection of his trusted employés. Let it be tive bodies lies in the fact that light as for all a fair field and no favor. No one well as heat is sometime struck from the will urge as an apology for these intend- friction of opposing interests and opinments that, in perhaps many cases, they ions. Curiously enough, for some occult save the examiners unnecessary trouble reason, the present association, by the in examining the papers of the ill-pre- adoption of the sixth of its articles of pared. Assuming that such a reason association, excluded from its councils all would justify the exclusion of a single who were reluctant to agree, in advance, worthy candidate, the objection is easily with the conclusions already reached by overcome. If the fee for taking the ex- the charter members. These are the conamination is made fairly remunerative to clusions, representing the existing practhose conducting it, the examiner will not tices of the association members, which complain, and the candidate can more it seeks, through the instrumentality of easily defer taking the examination until the American Bar Association, to imhe can raise this sum than one sufficient press upon the American bar generally. to carry him through college.
If these conclusions, in favor of three
years preliminary study and a high school The Association of American Law
or college course, are, when sought to be Schools.
made of universal application by the enUnfortunately, no discussion of this tire American bar, wise in thernselves, subject can ignore the action of the
they should not be opposed merely beAmerican Bar Association in committing cause advocated by an association of itself, temporarily at least, in favor of schools which think their adoption will these requirements. It seems that the result in some advantage to their graduAmerican Bar Association has a commit- ates. Each school knows, better than tee, or section, on legal education, whose any outsider, its own problem, needs, functions are performed by the Associa- and student body. It must be conceded tion of American Law Schools. It is not that each school, except perhaps in the unlikely, therefore, the action of the Bar case of a state university, supported by Association represents a more or less per- the taxes of all classes of citizens, has functory adoption of a committee report. perfect liberty to choose its own student
The Association of American Law body from any class, and to adopt such
requirements as it may think will best as- as altruistic as the premable to its articles sure it the material it prefers to work up- of association would seem to indicate.
What is not conceded, however, is The night school need offer to the that any school, or association of schools, American people no apology for its exis necessarily the best judge of the re- istence. It is true that there is hardly a quirements or character of all students practice, inevitable to the night school, other than its own, or that it has any right which is not sneered at openly or covertly to legislate, directly or indirectly, against by some of the dominant members of the the demonstrable fitness to begin practice association; and this, in almost the same of some thousands of American students breath in which, out of consideration for whom it declines itself to receive, and the night schools remaining within its whose training school is excluded by ar- organization, the solemn assurance is givticle six from representation in its delib- en that the association is not opposed to erations.
the night school per se. It is the night school that seems the ob- The night school is disreputable beject of a peculiar aversion to some mem- cause its sessions are not held during the bers of that association. Yet if they are day or even while twilight reigns. Its to be excluded by arbitrary and inelastic students are dupes for believing that they preliminaries from entrance to the asso- can study law and earn a living at the ciation school, where else are the thou- same time. Its faculty are mere bread sands of young Americans, to whom it is and butter lawyers or judges, ignorant reluctantly conceded a chance should be of the scientific principles of jurisprugiven, to get that chance, if not in the dence, and too exhausted by the labors of nonassociation night school? If the lat- the day to teach effectively in the evening. ter is to be required to be come a pale imi- It does not require its students to spend tation of Harvard law school, and adopt from two to four years in the other dethe same preliminary requirements, what partments of the university of which it is to become of the mature, self-support- forms a part. Lastly, and the most seriing government clerk or other candidate
ous dereliction of all, the night school inambitious to fit himself for the bar? Is it sists upon adapting itself to its local ennot clear, moreover, if the student finds vironment and of trying to meet the needs admission to the night school closed to of the young men of its state or city, inhim upon any terms, except those which stead of holding the orthodox view that would enable him to enter a day school, the student body was created for the benit can only result in his abandoning the efit of the school. Its students, trained idea altogether, as impractical, or in his to conduct litigation by those who pracentrance into the day school? Is this not tice what they teach, do little to lessen in effect asking the night school, which is this irritation when they successfully doing a different work, with a different compete in the bar examination with the student body, in a different environment, graduate learned in the science of juristo commit hara-kari for the honor of hav- prudence, and much beside, except how ing the Association of American Law to try a case. The night school may be Schools lay a wreath upon its grave? wrong in thinking that a student body of Such a position lays the members of the mature age, composed of grown men who association, undeservedly no doubt, open have come more or less into intimate to the suspicion that its objects are not personal contact with the world, with men and things and transactions which While it is true in respect of this last constitute the subject matter of the sub- modest claim that 16 out of 22 of the stantive law, are better material than the delegates at the sixth annual meeting of 18 year old high school boy, of untried the Association of American Law Schools purpose, attending the law school at his voted in favor of a practical application father's expense.
It may be wrong in of the university ideal, the night school thinking that an experience as a bank must take what comfort it can from the clerk will better help the student to un- remarks of Judge Shepard, himself a derstand the practical operation in the hard-worked judge teaching in a night business world of negotiable paper and law school, which remarks will be found the reasonableness of the rules fixing the in the printed Report of that meeting. duties and liabilities of holder, maker, As said before, however, all this is of and indorser, than will an acquaintance no interest to the bar or public, whose with elementary algebra or the whole legitimate concern is with results that can high school curriculum. So with the be tested, and not with a priori intendpractical duties of the real estate lawyer, ments in favor of this or that method, a year in the real estate department of school, or other antecedent. a trust company is worth two spent If the local bar associations of some in conjugating Latin verbs. The night states have overlooked this fundamental school may again be in error in think- consideration, it may, in some cases, be ing that its students can survive the due to the fact that such a view has been alleged inferiority of the ideals of jus- consistently urged upon it by an organitice common to the mere judge or “bread zation admirably combining self-interest and butter lawyer," who compose its with solicitude for the public and profescorps of instruction, to those which are sional welfare. said to inhere in the very atmosphere and It is time that the lawyer's law tradition "of our university system of schools combined for the protection of legal professional education."
the great body of American law students. 8