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to it, and which claims it as a brother profession, sweeps up ex- solicitors, and solicitors shall, in addition to the rights and privileges clusively to itself some of the highest honours which the Sovereign at present exercised by them, be entitled to practise in all respects and the State have to confer. The evil which is done to the calling as counsel. It was also provided that, in case of such amalgamaby this injustice is, in my opinion, incalculable. The repression it tion, counsel and solicitor should alike be entitled to sue for their oflicts, the dead level tone which it imparts, is a slur and an fees and be liable for neglect. The Bill in question was backed by injury against which it is utterly impossible for it to raise its head ; ten well-known M.P.'s, the first being a member of our society, and and however great may be the power, and great no doubt it is, a personal friend of my own; but with whom I regret to differ. As which the profession indirectly exercises both in private and public a matter of fact, the Bill was blocked, and for some reason or other, affairs, it can never get over the fact that it is absolutely unable to it was not heard of during the recent session. In the early part of point to any distinctions in itself, and can only say to its votaries, the present year, 1888, the profession was suddenly roused by an “slave and make money." Such a calling must suffer both in tone admittedly premeditated speech of Sir Edward Clarke, the Solicitorand character, and it does. There is none other to which the in. General, in which he avowed that during the greater part of his justice applies. Commercial success, banking success, brewing career he had been in favour of amalgamating the two branches, success--they are all rewarded by peerages. Medical success is and that he had long waited for a fitting opportunity of publicly rewarded by baronetcies. Literary and artistic success by peerages expressing his views, conceding, however, that fusion involved so and decorations; and all these honours are well and deservedly many questions that it could not be effected by simple Act of earned, after their kind. The useful practical work of legal admin- Parliament of two clauses. This movement on the part of Sir istration is alone left to obtain the honours of its country by such Edward Clarke was the more startling from the fact that the other rare and fortunate accidents as those which the Solicitor-General law officer of the Crown, Sir Richard Webster, the present Attorneyalluded to in his speech, the reason being that as the bar receives General, had on more than one occasion gone out of his way, so to immense honours, and claims superiority, so it is thought that speak, to publicly express his dissent from the views of those who the inferior order has no right to them. Amidst the numerous asked for fusion. At the largest meeting of the profession ever arguments in favour of the change which I advocate, there is known, he said, " I hope none of us will be tempted to break that none, to my mind, so strong as this-namely, the flagrant in- particular line of difference which now exists between solicitors and justice of confining legal distinctions and posts of legal honour the bar. Let those at the bar who think they can work as solicitors, and responsibility to one branch only of the legal profession; and let those solicltors who think they could get on at the bar, have and, inasmuch as I am sure that that abuse can never be every means of change afforded to them." At a special general removed so long as there are two branches, one superior to the meeting of our society, held in London in April, 1888, a motion was other-no! nor even if there were two equivalent branches with submitted, " That in the interests of the public the time had arrived equal statutory advantages, since the tribe of briefless advocates when the proposal of fusion of the two branches of the law, as would find ways and means to influence the patronage—I recom- shadowed forth by the Solicitor-General in his recent speech at mend the complete fusion of the profession.
Birmingham, should be adopted.” I had given notice to move the
following counter resolution, " That this meeting, while affirming RECIPROCAL TRAXSPER.
the undesirability of fusion, is of opinion that the statutory privileges,
enabling barristers to become solicitors, should be made reciMr. F. K. MUNTON read a paper on this subject. Long after procal; but it was pointed out to me by an eminent provincial the institution of the preliminary, intermediate, and final examina- member, a much respected ex-president of our society, that it would tions for solicitors, said Mr. Munton, the bar were not called upon hardly be fair to attempt to take the opinion of the profession on so to pass any examination whatever, and it is not disputed that the important a subject at a meeting confined practically to town mem. test demanded during the last few years is of a much milder order bers; and in deference to his suggestion, and to the arguments of than in our branch. A recent writer of a treatise on the subject other friends, I altered my motion so that it read thus, That this (who himself passed the examinations for both branches) describes meeting, without expressing any opinion as to the desirability of the bar tests as " very easy." The educational knowledge is limited fusion, is of opinion that the statutory privileges, enabling barristers to English and Roman history and schoolboy Latin, and the legal to become solicitors, should be made reciprocal;" and I incidentally examination is mere child's play compared to ours; in short, there stated that I would undertake to bring up the main point for debate has ceased to be any comparison whatever between the old days of . to-day at Newcastle. My motion in its altered form was carried, the barrister's then exalted position and the sixth-rate people as- and the council afterwards placed the resolution before the benchers, suming the office of " attornys," who were at one time actually who took some time to consider, but ultimately it was officially described in the printed rules as " ministerial persons of an inferior announced that they declined to grant reciprocal privileges. It nature !" I have taken the trouble to examine the current year's is an open secret that there was a serious difference of opinion law list, and I find that there are nearly as many London solicitors among the benchers; but the fact remains, and we have to deal as there are London practising barristers who have taken university with it. But to return to the bar curriculum. Few of us have or other academical degrees; but it is perhaps slaying the slain to quite realised that under the existing one-sided legislation, it is imattempt to demolish the remnant of talk sometimes indulged in by possible for a young man to become a bar " student ” for three the shallow and thoughtless about superiority or inferiority in the years without premium to a master, to earn his livelihood mean. two branches of the profession. Every man of the world knows, while by any other occupation under the sun (not connected with a irrespective of the fact that many of the judges have close family solicitor's office), and after being called to the bar still carry on any ties with our branch, that in society the high.classed solicitor runs
profitable business he pleases for another five years, and at the age side by side with the high-classed barrister, and that there is really of six-and-twenty he can quietly walk across to the solicitor branch no more difference between them than between officers of relative
of the profession on passing our final examination only, thus not only rank in the army and navy. For some years prior to 1877, many getting rid of the expense, but avoiding the strict conditions apper. of us with a taste for advocacy, lamented the then existing regula- taining to service under our articles, which excludes all concurrent tions, under which a solicitor, however experienced, was compelled, occupation whatever. I am not throwing stones at the bar, many if he desired to join the bar, to go through the identical three years of my best friends, besides family connections, being barristers; process laid down for the youngest aspirant for the barrister's posi- but what sort of reason exists for holding us at arm's length, after tion, and I and others more than once took part in publicly protest. having opened our doors to the other side ? I have heard it said ing against these prohibitive rules. But as the bar had then no that, inasmuch as a few solicitors have obtained orders dispensing privileges in coming over to us, except the shortening the service with the preliminary educational examination, the bar hesitates under articles from five years to three, we did not see how we to admit these gentlemen into their ranks; but apart from the could practically press our views, and the controversy was shelved. circumstances that the number must be fractional, it would be In 1877, however, the bar sought statutory powers of trans- easy, if there be really anything in the point, to provide that as to ferring themselves to the solicitor branch without articles or any such "dispensed” candidates, the Bar Preliminary," as well service, and we allowed a clause to pass unopposed enabling as the “ Bar Final,” should be passed, unless the benchers, under any barrister of five years' standing to procure himself to their powers which they occasionally exercise, see fit to dispense be disbarred, and on passing our final examination to be at once with the scholastic examination. As I share the common belief admitted to all the privileges of a solicitor. The propriety of that the standard of excellence in any professional man is materially raising organised opposition to this movement was discussed at strengthened by the insistence of a sound educational knowledge, one of our annual meetings, and a few active members, including I should not think it altogether unreasonable that every solicitor myself, entered our objections to the proposal being acceded going to the bar, whatever his age, should pass the" Bar Preliminary," to unless made reciprocal; but the president of the day ex- the barrister coming to us being of course subject to a reciprocal pressed his belief that if the movement were gracefully permitted rule. The real opposition of the majority to things being made easy to pass, the benchers would voluntarily accord us the same privi- for solicitors transferring themselves to the bar may not be far to leges, the peculiar constitution of the bar empowering them to do seek, but it would not become the Incorporated Law Society, or this without statutory authority. The Bill became law, but the a member standing upon a platform with any pretentions to speak benchers, after having secured these privileges for their order, failed for his fellows, to say a single word more than is necessary to altogether to see that we were equally entitled. It is true that later bring home the justice of the case, and I pass on to consider in on they reluctantly reduced the probation from three years to one, some detail Sir Edward Clarke's contention in favour of amalgabut even twelve months' enforced idleness to many of us is practi. mation. A deliberate speech from a Solicitor-General always comcally a prohibition. Let me just remark in passing, that although
mands attention, but nobody acquainted with Sir Edward Clarke the records of our society years ago show that I was personally personally can fail to be impressed with the sincerity of his argudesirous of going over to the bar, I am quite out of the reckoning ments, and any criticism should be tempered with the greatest now, for I have not only passed the meridian of life, but have other possible respect. In the first place, he avers that, whether we reasons for abandoning my early intentions. My present advocacy like it or not, a Parliament which addresses itself to social and for reciprocal transfer rests, therefore, entirely on the principle of industrial reform will make short work of professional rules or the abstract justice. In August, 1887, a Bill was introduced into the privileges of private institutions after they are found to hinder the House of Commons containing the following clauses :-1, Every attainment of the improvement of a public object,” the inference suitor who is entitled to appear and have audience in person before eing that if the legal profession do not themselves amalgamate, any tribunal in the United Kingdom shall be entitled to have audi- the legislature will perform the task for them. I venture to say ence there by counsel or solicitor without being bound to employ that there are little or no signs of any such intention. It is both. 2. Counsel shall, in addition to the rights and privileges at doubtful whether the public take any appreciable interest in the present exercised by them, be entitled to practise in all respects as question, and, even if they do, I submit that they will of necessity
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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 (where 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! little 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 bundreds 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 me that the theory of amalgamation assumes 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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