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to it, and which claims it as a brother profession, sweeps up ex clusively to itself some of the highest honours which the Sovereign and the State have to confer. The evil which is done to the calling by this injustice is, in my opinion, incalculable. The repression it pflicts, the dead level tone which it imparts, is a slur and an injury against which it is utterly impossible for it to raise its head; and however great may be the power, and great no doubt it is, which the profession indirectly exercises both in private and public affairs, it can never get over the fact that it is absolutely unable to point to any distinctions in itself, and can only say to its votaries, “slave and make money." Such a calling must suffer both in tone and character, and it does. There is none other to which the in justice applies. Commercial success, banking success, brewing success-they are all rewarded by peerages. Medical success is rewarded by baronetcies. Literary and artistic success by peerages and decorations, and all these honours are well and deservedly earned, after their kind. The useful practical work of legal administration is alone left to obtain the honours of its country by such rare and fortunate accidents as those which the Solicitor-General alluded to in his speech, the reason being that as the bar receives immense honours, and claims superiority, so it is thought that the inferior order has no right to them. Amidst the numerous arguments in favour of the change which I advocate, there is none, to my mind, so strong as this-namely, the flagrant in justice of, confining legal distinctions and posts of legal honour and responsibility to one branch only of the legal profession; and, inasmuch as I am sure that that abuse can never be removed so long as there are two branches, one superior to the other-no! nor even if there were two equivalent branches with equal statutory advantages, since the tribe of briefess advocates would find ways and means to influence the patronage-I recommend the complete fusion of the profession.
Mr. F. K. MUNTON read a paper on this subject. Long after the institution of the preliminary, intermediate, and final examina tions for solicitors, said Mr. Munton, the bar were not called upon to pass any examination whatever, and it is not disputed that the test demanded during the last few years is of a much milder order than in our branch. A recent writer of a treatise on the subject (who himself passed the examinations for both branches) describes the bar tests as “ very easy." The educational knowledge is limited to English and Roman history and schoolboy Latin, and the legal examination is mere child's play compared to ours; in short, there has ceased to be any comparison whatever between the old days of the barrister's then exalted position and the sixth-rate people as suming the office of “attornys," who were at one time actually described in the printed rules as " ministerial persons of an inferior nature !" I have taken the trouble to examine the current year's law list, and I find that there are nearly as many London solicitors as there are London practising barristers who have taken university or other academical degrees; but it is perhaps slaying the slain to attempt to demolish the remnant of talk sometimes indulged in by the shallow and thoughtless about superiority or inferiority in the two branches of the profession. Every man of the world knows, irrespective of the fact that many of the judges have close family ties with our branch, that in society the high-classed solicitor runs side by side with the high-classed barrister, and that there is really no more difference between them than between officers of relative rank in the army and navy. For some years prior to 1877, many of us with a taste for advocacy lamented the then existing regulations, under which a solicitor, however experienced, was compelled, if he desired to join the bar, to go through the identical three years' process laid down for the youngest aspirant for the barrister's position, and I and others more than once took part in publicly protest. ing against these prohibitive rules. But as the bar had then no privileges in coming over to us, except the shortening the service under articles from five years to three, we did not see how we could practically press our views, and the controversy was shelved. In 1877, however, the bar sought statutory powers of transferring themselves to the solicitor branch without articles or service, and we allowed a clause to pass unopposed enabling any barrister of five years' standing to procure himself to be disbarred, and on passing our final examination to be at once admitted to all the privileges of a solicitor. The propriety of raising organised opposition to this movement was discussed at one of our annual meetings, and a few active members, including myself, entered our objections to the proposal being acceded to unless made reciprocal; but the president of the day expressed his belief that if the movement were gracefully permitted to pass, the benchers would voluntarily accord us the same privileges, the peculiar constitution of the bar empowering them to do this without statutory authority. The Bill became law, but the benchers, after having secured these privileges for their order, failed altogether to see that we were equally entitled. It is true that later on they reluctantly reduced the probation from three years to one, but even twelve months' enforced idleness to many of us is practi. cally a prohibition. Let me just remark in passing, that although the records of our society years ago show that I was personally desirous of going over to the bar, I am quite out of the reckoning now, for I have not only passed the meridian of life, but have other reasons for abandoning my early intentions. My present advocacy for reciprocal transfer rests, therefore, entirely on the principle of abstract justice. In August, 1887, a Bill was introduced into the House of Commons containing the following clauses :--1, Every suitor who is entitled to appear and have audience in person before any tribunal in the United Kingdom shall be entitled to have audience there by counsel or solicitor without being bound to employ both. 2. Counsel shall, in addition to the rights and privileges at present exercised by them, be entitled to practise in all respects as
solicitors, and solicitors shall, in addition to the rights and privileges at present exercised by them, be entitled to practise in all respects as counsel. It was also provided that, in case of such amalgamation, counsel and solicitor should alike be entitled to sue for their fees and be liable for neglect. The Bill in question was backed by ten well-known M.P.'s, the first being a member of our society, and a personal friend of my own; but with whom I regret to differ. As a matter of fact, the Bill was blocked, and for some reason or other, it was not heard of during the recent session. In the early part of the present year, 1888, the profession was suddenly roused by an admittedly premeditated speech of Sir Edward Clarke, the SolicitorGeneral, in which he avowed that during the greater part of his career he had been in favour of amalgamating the two branches, and that he had long waited for a fitting opportunity of publicly expressing his views, conceding, however, that fusion involved so many questions that it could not be effected by a simple Act of Parliament of two clauses. This movement on the part of Sir Edward Clarke was the more startling from the fact that the other law officer of the Crown, Sir Richard Webster, the present AttorneyGeneral, had on more than one occasion gone out of his way, so to speak, to publicly express his dissent from the views of those who asked for fusion. At the largest meeting of the profession ever known, he said, " I hope none of us will be tempted to break that particular line of difference which now exists between solicitors and the bar. Let those at the bar who think they can work as solicitors, and let those solicitors who think they could get on at the bar, have every means of change afforded to them." At a special general meeting of our society, held in London in April, 1888, a motion was submitted, “That in the interests of the public the time had arrived when the proposal of fusion of the two branches of the law, as shaãowed forth by the Solicitor-General in his recent speech at Birmingham, should be adopted." I had given notice to move the following counter resolution, " That this meeting, while affirming the undesirability of fusion, is of opinion that the statutory privileges, enabling barristers to become solicitors, should be made reciprocal ; " but it was pointed out to me by an eminent provincial member, a much respected ex-president of our society, that it would hardly be fair to attempt to take the opinion of the profession on so important a subject at a meeting confined practically to town mem. bers; and in deference to his suggestion, and to the arguments of other friends, I altered my motion so that it read thus, “That this meeting, without expressing any opinion as to the desirability of fusion, is of opinion that the statutory privileges, enabling barristers to become solicitors, should be made reciprocal;" and I incidentally stated that I would undertake to bring up the main point for debate to-day at Newcastle. My motion in its altered form was carried, and the council afterwards placed the resolution before the benchers, who took some time to consider, but ultimately it was officially announced that they declined to grant reciprocal privileges. It is an open secret that there was a serious difference of opinion among the benchers; but the fact remains, and we have to deal with it. But to return to the bar curriculum. Few of us have quite realised that under the existing one-sided legislation, it is impossible for a young man to become a bar " student” for three years without premium to a master, to earn his livelihood mean. while by any other occupation under the sun (not connected with a solicitor's office), and after being called to the bar still carry on any profitable business he pleases for another five years, and at the age of six-and-twenty he can quietly walk across to the solicitor branch of the profession on passing our final examination only, thus not only getting rid of the expense, but avoiding the strict conditions apper. taining to service under our articles, which excludes all concurrent occupation whatever. I am not throwing stones at the bar, many of my best friends, besides family connections, being barristers; but what sort of reason exists for holding us at arm's length, after having opened our doors to the other side ? I have heard it said that, inasmuch as a few solicitors have obtained orders dispensing with the preliminary educational examination, the bar hesitates to admit these gentlemen into their ranks; but apart from the circumstances that the number must be fractional, it would be easy, if there be really anything in the point, to provide that as to any such dispensed” candidates, the Bar Preliminary," as well as the “ Bar Final," should be passed, unless the benchers, under their powers which they occasionally exercise, see fit to dispense with the scholastic examination. As I share the common belief that the standard of excellence in any professional man is materially strengthened by the insistence of a sound educational knowledge, I should not think it altogether unreasonable that every solicitor going to the bar, whatever his age, should pass the" Bar Preliminary," the barrister coming to us being of course subject to a reciprocal rule. The real opposition of the majority to things being made easy for solicitors transferring themselves to the bar may not be far to seek, but it would not become the Incorporated Law Society, or a member standing upon a platform with any pretentions to speak for his fellows, to say a single word more than is necessary to bring home the justice of the case, and I pass on to consider in some detail Sir Edward Clarke's contention in favour of amalgamation. A deliberate speech from a Solicitor-General always commands attention, but nobody acquainted with Sir Edward Clarke personally can fail to be impressed with the sincerity of his arguments, and any criticism should be tempered with the greatest possible respect. In the first place, he avers " that, whether we like it or not, a Parliament which addresses itself to social and industrial reform will make short work of professional rules or the privileges of private institutions after they are found to hinder the attainment of the improvement of a public object," the inference being that if the legal profession do not themselves amalgamate, the legislature will perform the task for them. I venture to say that there are little or no signs of any such intention. It is doubtful whether the public take any appreciable interest in the question, and, even if they do, I submit that they will of necessity
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be guided to a large extent by the opinion expressed in the pro- cost of which brief is regularly allowed as against the other side on fession, where alone can be formed a sound idea of the practica. taxation, showing that when applied practically, and not merely bility of so great a change. On the whole, I suggest that this con. theoretically, two persons are still required to bring a case actually tingency is one not calling for present serious thought. The next into Court, except where the matter is comparatively small and can point urged by Sir Edward Clarke is that a solicitor pays a yearly be dealt with in a County Court-a position already provided for duty, and is liable in damages for default, whereas counsel is not in our own system. In the United States, too, " agents" are emamenable to any process. This question would be entirely met byployed to beat up evidence and the like, and there are other indi. imposing an annual charge on counsel, and making them respon cations of two persons being really wanted ; indeed, a leading sible in respect of any services or duty voluntarily neglected. I London Q.C. told me a few days ago that when across the Atlantic, say " voluntarily," because I believe that the instances of wilful in conversation with eminent counsel there, the latter said they neglect are extremely rare, the difficulty hitherto being largely were considering how to devise a scheme whereby they could in attributable to what the Solicitor-General called “the strange un. some way sever themselves from the solicitor's work, after our certainty of the arrangement for the trial of causes”—an uncer. English system! I am dealing with the matter purely from a tainty, happily, in course of removal through the united recom. practical point of view, and I hardly stop to discuss the serious mendations of the Bar Committee and our society, between whom injury which would be done by fusion to what may fairly be spoken (as I happen to know, from having had the pleasure recently of of as a vested interest. Neither a barrister nor a solicitor, except sitting upon the joint Bar and Solicitors' Committee re the Nisi in rare cases, enters the profession because he has any special Prius Regulations) there is perfect accord, and long may we thus qualification in the way of debating power, such power being de. usefully act in concert. I venture this remark, because I cannot veloped by practice; and although it is well said by the Solicitorhelp thinking that the interests of both branches of the profession General that the average solicitor is as capable as an average long suffered in many ways from the singular absence of any cordial barrister, we can all see that after a man has devoted himself to understanding in regard to matters common to each. Sir Edward that branch of the profession associated with advocacy, and to Clarke says that solicitors are precluded from obtaining judicial little else, he develops into a practised speaker ; in fact, not one offices open to the bar. I answer that reciprocal transfer would person in a thousand can become a good debater unless the cir. afford a practical remedy. The next point advanced is that County cumstances of his position afford him the opportunity of actually Court legislation tends in the direction of enlarging the number of studying the art. Sir Edward Clarke's compliments are very agreetrials in that Court, where solicitors have audience, and that it able to read, but his observations affect a limited area. The bulk would be unfair to the junior members of the bar to further en. of the solicitors have never paid any attention whatever to advocacy, croach upon their province. I think that all extension of County and in that respect a large part of our branch of the profession Court jurisdiction is calculated to augment the chances of the would be at a serious disadvantage. However, no change can be junior bar, it being practically impossible for a solicitor in good made without damage to somebody, and I should not on this ground practice to give personal attention to County Court trials, see. alone object to fusion (indeed, as far as I am individually concerned, ing that the Courts are distributed over large districts, and the having given some attention to conducting bankruptcy and other bulk of a solicitor's business Compels him to remain in his causes in my own firm's office, I should be the last person to com. office. And now we come to the Solicitor-General's main point plain), but I contend that, in common justice to all, if we are to have viz., that in many instances “ two persons are employed to do the absolute fusion, there should be an interval of at least ten years be. work of one." It is important to bear in mind a few salient facts. fore such a system should come into operation. I have said that There are nearly 6,000 solicitors in London actually taking out there are 14,000 or 15,000 English solicitors, and, looking to the stapractising certificates, but let us take a few hundreds off for those tistics given, the following state of things would be brought about if who pay the annual duty without any real intention of practising, every solicitor were supposed to act as his own barrister. It has been leaving, say, 5,000 solicitors in the metropolis. Provincial solicitors seen that on the average there is not a single trial apiece annually for number about 9,000, say a total of 14,000 English working solicitors. all the solicitors who take out certificates. But let us first take the There are some 8,000 barristers altogether, but more than half of case of large firms having perhaps fifty trials a year. How is any ono them joined the bar to secure dignity and not briefs. It will surprise partner or even two partners, specially devoting themselves to the many people to learn what a very small proportion of a solicitor's advocacy branch, to attend to fifty trials ? Of course if he could business has any relation to that part of the work which it is have them fixed at his own convenience, say one every Monday alleged is performed by two, and which could by any possibility be morning, it would be easy enough, but even in the largest office done by one. Statistics show that since the rigid rules stamping there are periods when there is a lull of Court litigation, and other out sham defences, only some 4,000 actions are annually tried in all times when there is great pressure, only capable of being dealt with the divisions of the High Court (including the Assizes); and even effectually by having an outside bar amongst whom the briefs can adding liberally for causes in which briefs are delivered, but which be distributed. But let us return to the case of the numerous are disposed of other than by trial, there is little more than one per solicitors in London and the country who have only one or two annum for every practising barrister, and not half of one for each trials a year. Apart from local prejudices in appearing personally practising solicitor. But let us assume that the contested causes against certain people, how can the rural solicitor possibly get the iwhere counsel alone have audience-open Court and elsewhere) necessary experience to conduct a case in Court, or compete against amount in the aggregate to double the number I have stated, even a professed and brilliant advocate of some larger office, who does then we solicitors as a body have not one High Court trial apiece! litile else than make himself a skilled counsel ? The advantage As regards the public, therefore, the work which is in any way which every man enjoys under the present system is that he can duplicated bears but an infinitesimal proportion to the entirety of the employ his confidential solicitor for all legal work of every kind, work entrusted to us, not necessarily on account of professional skill, well knowing that there is a bar from which he can pick for a parbut as men of the world, linked as we are to the client in many in. ticular service when, and only when, it becomes necessary. I may stances by the ties of friendship for, as Sir James Hannen once well be answered by the statement that even under fusion the leaders of said, “ an honourable solicitor is a family blessing.” Is nineteen. the Court would remain Queen's Counsel as they are now, but there twentieths of the business of a solicitor's office, involving constant are numerous cases requiring skill attainable only by Court practice, presence there, to be upset on account of this very small proportion of where the employing of Queen's Counsel at high fees would be out advocacy, at present so conveniently handed over to counsel ? It of the question. Sir Edward Clarke pleads for some of our work has been said that there are great advantages in the client having for the struggling young barristers. I reply, let them transfer personal interviews with the advocate, but it has not been pointed themselves to our branch in the proper way. There are, however, out what is to be done in provincial cases. If the whole Courts of plenty of struggling young solicitors who have suffered the outlay and the country were divided into minute County Courts, and every served their time, and whose future is very unpromising, if we are client could complete his business in the district in which he lives, brought face to face with some strange doctrines recently promul. and where his confidential and regular solicitor practises, there gated as to what counsel may already do in the solicitor line without might be something in this point; but how is one to deal with the having paid his footing—a question requiring serious attention, and important causes tried hundreds of miles away (or many miles away demanding a paper to itself. It must be admitted that here and there even if we have local centres) from the regular residence of the our system is faulty ; but the more one considers the controversy, solicitor and the client? Let us take, for example, a large firm of the less reason does there seem to be for the cry for fusion; and, if solicitors carrying on business at Birmingham, with many cases (or I rightly understand the members of our own profession, if they even one case), for Birmingham clients set down for trial in London. could all be polled, the vote would be overwhelming against the Under the present system, when the brief is delivered to counsel, change, both in their own interests and in the interests of the public, it is the occupation of the latter to be in or about the Courts, and especially if, as the Attorney-General says, solicitors" who think they constantly able to watch the progress of the lists, the litigant can get on better at the bar, have every means of changing afforded to and the solicitor not being called upon to come up, or absent them." The onus probandi lies with those who demand amalgamation, themselves from their ordinary business until the crucial and, as I desire to reserve the right of reply, I conclude by submitting moment arrives a most advantageous arrangement to everybody. with great confidence the following motion :-“That this annual It seems to me that the theory of amalgamation assumes a meeting of town and country solicitors is of opinion that there is no non-existent state of things in other directions. In a country sufficient reason for seriously entertaining any scheme having for divided into a number of States, with local Courts and regulations its object the amalgamation of the two branches of the legal pro. affecting each State, or in a colony sparsely populated, where the fession; but it recommends the Council of the Incorporated Law real commercial business is entirely centred in one or two places, Society to take into consideration the expediency of applying to and all the litigants and the legal profession are in a small circle, Parliament that the facilities given by the 1877 Act to barristers of there may be good reasons for no distinction being made between five years' standing for becoming solicitors should be made reciprothe solicitor and the advocate. To my mind, however, comparisons cal, so as to enable solicitors of like standing to forthwith go over with England are utterly fallacious. We might as well be asked to to the other branch on passing the Bar Final Examination." follow Sweden, where solicitors and barristers are, I believe, un Mr. Lee (Birmingham) moved to amend the resolution by strikknown, and the litigant, if he cannot attend in person, is allowed ing out the first paragraph, being of opinion that it would be con. to employ his tailor or his bootmaker to advocate his cause, One venient for solicitors to be able in certain cases to act as advocates. may just remark that even in New Zealand, which is so frequently After some discussion, Mr. SAUNDERS, in reply, said he did not quoted as an example for the mother country, and where the bar. go the whole length of Mr. Follett's paper. He would be governed rister and the solicitor form a united profession, it is no uncommon by the Canadian system, where there were two roads, and it was a thing for one partner of the business to draw up and charge for a qualification by examination as to whether a man should be ad. " brief” to enable the other partner to do the advocacy work, the mitted to one or other or both branches. The benefit would be
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