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administration of the laws is to be referred. A profession whose interest, honor and reputation incline them to vindicate the sanctity and authority of law, as well as the rights and privileges of those they represent. Elevate the character of lawyers and you purify the channels of justice, you distribute its clear waters uninterrupted through all the divisions of society. Depress that character, the streams stagnate, throw up their pollutions to the surface, and carry death in their poisonous exhalations. You can only elevate the profession by making higher requisitions upon those who are candidates for its honors. You, by this means, diminish the number of applicants and raise the standard to a higher grade.
The plan now pursued by most of the States in making lawyers is on a par with the labor saving machinery of the
the result has been multiplication and deterioration-an overstock of pretenders to legal erudition, who have never aimed higher than to glean a little here and there from Blackstone and Kent, in some miserable abridgment. Admirable examples of ignorance, conceit and audacity! Standing committees of reproach! Each of the learned professions in this country, groan under these inflictions, the law not among the least. It would throw out of their wits some of our learned tyros to submit them to the English ordeal, confine them six or eight years in attendance at an attorney's office, or in going through all the routine of study, exercise and labor at the Inns of Court, then call them reluctantly to the bar. And yet what has been the result of this system? Has it conflicted any thing with the interests of society,--with the people's rights? Or has it not fostered into being one of the most learned and celebrated body of lawyers that the world has ever known?
In some of the New-England States, the Legislature and Courts, out of a spirit of accommodation, and in deference to the mistermed popular rights, allow any man at pleasure to plead his own cause. Thus exhibiting the low regard they entertain for any thing like a dignified profession. For we would put the question, can a custom like this have any other effect than to remove all inducement from those who might otherwise bestow their time, talent and energies upon the legal science? Where every man is, or may be at pleasure, a lawyer, what dignity can remain, what honor, what profit, and when dignity, honor and profit are gone, what 50
VOL. VI.-NO. 12.
becomes of the profession? Where will be found men of ability and character, disposed to wreck their fortunes upon it? You present, in such a state, a field opened to the worthless and abandoned, but closed up to all others. Nor are litigants at court in any degree benefitted by the system. The remark was made long ago, and is as true now, that "he who pleads his own case has a fool for his client." He would save a few dollars by undertaking that for which his past pursuits have in no wise qualified him, and becomes, ten to one, a debtor to his folly in a hundred times the amount.
In South-Carolina, until very lately, a single perusal of Blackstone, the work of a few weeks, with some plausibility and address, would have been a ready passport to all the privileges, dignities and immunities of Attorney at Law, etc.
We have heard of some such gallant achievements. Even now, although the courts have seen fit to elevate the standard, and exhibit more severity in their examinations, it is clear that six or eight months study, would be an ample qualification; the effect is that crowds continue to flock in, and the name of lawyer becomes more and more a by-word and a jest.
We know that it is common to say a poor lawyer can do no harm.
Juvenal said it two thousand years ago :
nec unquam Sanguine causidici maduerunt rostra pusilli.
And Cicero has made good sport of such a character, calling him by very many hard names, and relating not a few of his blunders.* But are not these principles more plausible than true? We might naturally expect that the community would • find out who was best entitled to its favour, and in the employment of legal men, would search out those who are most skilled. In part this is the case, but then it must be remembered that folly is contagious, and that some how or other the inexperienced and unsophisticated are often strangely deluded and cajoled by ignorance and audacity. The worst lawyer will be frequently employed, --will work his way into notice; his hoarse voice will be heard every where in the forum,-he will confuse every thing with his jargon,-bring contempt upon the profession,-exclude good men from its
* De Oratore. lib. 1.
ranks,—increase the amount and costliness of litigation, and, utterly unable to appreciate the high aims and destinies of the profession himself, will sympathize with nothing great, thirst for nothing elevated, occupy no other place than that of barretor, too insignificant, perhaps, to be reached by the arm of the law.
We can scarcely appreciate the thorough system of preparation through which English law students are called upon to pass; their discipline has ever been most rigid, and habits of thought and business are acquired at an early period which adheres to them through life. In the Inns of Courts, or offices of attorneys, the long apprenticeship is spent. And, in the moot courts, legal questions are discussed with so much power of argumentation and extent of research, that eminent lawyers have been known to refer back in after life to these early discussions, and receive from them instruction. Cases are put by all parties, and in allusion to this custom the Lord Keeper Dudley, according to his brother, Roger North, used to say, that no man could be a good lawyer without being a good "put case.” The custom of this country is, to shove students up to the bar with little or no acquaintance with what is technically called, practice; an extensive branch of the profession, to be learned only amid the various routine of duty gone through at a lawyer's office. The result is, that they are subjected to a thousand perplexities and mortifications when they are called upon to act; making very frequently the most egregious blunders in the plainest and most simple matters. Whatever amount of reading has been theirs, the discovery is soon made that book learning is not every thing; much must be obtained from other sources; and this, however insignificant it may appear in the eye at first, is as indispensable to a successful practice of the law as any of its leading principles and distinctions. A mere theoretical lawyer will make but a poor affair in a court-house, or amid the pressing calls of business, and be a hundred times chagrined and surprised to find others, with no proportion of his learning, more successful and oftener consulted. The misfortune is that so many get into the notion that all this office business, as it is termed, these little forms and tedious exercises of drawing out papers perpetually,-are the mere drudgeries of the profession, which suit ordinary capacities very well, but higher mind and loftier genius can only be content to seize upon great
principles, which, like the staff of Hercules, they may wield with honour. Now, all of this is soon discovered to be a mischievous delusion, and experience very soon convinces that no expectation of becoming great lawyers, without having been great drudges, is a legitimate one. These so much slighted details soon begin to vindicate themselves,—to hold up their grim visages amid many a bright and beautiful prospect, and drag down to earth the giddy aspirant from his high flights and dizzy elevations. He must go to work now to study law, after he has been lawfully entitled “lawyer," and meets with ten times the difficulty that would have attended the student. Pride and the fear of ridicule prevent a resort to others for information in such small matters; books alone must be resorted to, and what is wanted he acquires at a vast expenditure of labour, or remains content with confused notions or downright ignorance, until accident, perhaps, throws it within reach, or grim despair at last drives him from the profession.
Now, the natural way to obviate all this would be, to make the same requisitions upon students here, that are made in England, or similar ones, at least. We cannot, of course, expect, however desirable, that division of labour which has had so prominent an influence in elevating the profession there. We mean the districting off particular departments, each to be occupied by an independent class of lawyers. Thus, by restricting the sphere in which each is to operate, the greatest amount of learning and skill are ensured, and men, great in a few things, produced, who otherwise had been superficial in a great many. The student in England must make his selection of one of these departments; no in tention occupies his mind of being every thing that may be included in the term lawyer. He consults his capacities and taste to discover whether they incline him most to be counsellor, advocate, solicitor, conveyancer, or special pleader, and having determined, throws his whole energies into that field. This system, however, is not practicable in a country like ours; perhaps it will be thought too cumbrous and expensive for the simple notions of our people ; their versatility of genius, their activity and haste, their aversion to every thing that seems exclusive, and, above all, their insuppressible desire to be all things to all men,-10 the Jew, a Jews 'to % the Greek, a Greek, etc.
With men unaccustomed to discriminate, it is common enough to confound the benefits of a system with its abuses, and attach that character to the whole which belongs of right to some of its parts only. The profession of the law has come in for its full share of this distinction. In every age there have been those to rail against it, and heap upon its head all manner of opprobrium. Led astray by a few blots and blemishes upon its ermine, they have wisely con, cluded that all must be corruption. They argue, because an Epsom and a Dudley have existed, that of necessity every lawyer must partake of their iniquities. The eyes of such men can see nothing clearly, but like Sir John Falstaff, they distort and magnify each object into "eleven men in buckram." But there have not been wanting those of an opposite character, who have had the capacity to perceive and the honesty to confess the reverse of all this,—the ability to distinguish, in the clearest manner, between the just aims and noble advance of the profession, and its degeneracy, Our purpose is not to add an undue elevation to any set of men, or become their blind panegyrist,—we but press the claims of truth and honesty. If there have been those who have prostituted their talents and learning, and even the law itself, to the vilest of purposes,—if the utmost laxity of moral principles has characterized not a few of this profession,-if much that has been charged adversely be susceptible of demonstration, all of which we have no disposition to deny, let it not be forgotten that there have been high and honorable spirits engaged in the pursuit, -men of genius, learning and refinement,-philosophers, scholars and patriots,-patrons of all that is great and good --men wedded to the immutable principles of truth and justice,-men with integrity of heart and honesty of purpose,-advocates of liberty and friends of humanity, --constellations to illumine the darkest night. And are not these the men such as the science of law left to itself,-a science so liberal, so elevating, so comprehensive, would naturally produce,-and have they not been produced in sufficient number to vindicate the profession from the illiberal, puny aggressions of those, who affect to see nothing truly good and estimable in it? It is the glory of the law that, at all times, such men have stepped forth as its champions, its burning lights, to exhibit to the world the majestic evidences of its elevation.*
* The language of Bolingbroke will be called to mind here, where we