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sickens at the contact-he is disgusted with the arts which he sees others use, and at length, after years thrown away in pacing the weary round of that hall, whose flags have worn out so many hopes, he who might have been an ornament to his profession, leaves it in disgust.
Such, it is notorious, we know it, are some among the many causes which at this moment operate prejudicially against the Irish Bar, and lower the class of men who are competitors for its business and its honours; and although we differ from Mr. Joy in one or two points he has laid down, and we do so with some hesitation, we are, nevertheless, of opinion that he has conferred a great public benefit by calling the attention of the community to the subject of his book. Nothing will have so salutary an effect as a sound, comprehensive system of education, which ought, however, to be followed by a rigorous examination, not a voluntary one. This is an ordeal through which the classes to which we have alluded ought to be made pass, and it would have the effect of sweeping away the hordes of political speculators and hungry adventurers, which now throng the avenues of the profession; although Mr. Joy does not go so far as we do, he is, nevertheless, in the right track. In his seventh letter he says:-
"There are reasons for preventing the indiscriminate increase of the bar which do not apply to other professions. This seems to be well understood in foreign countries. The only check, however, which in a free country ought to prevail is, the check of education. It is the interest of the public that this check should exist in a profession with such responsibilities, such influence, so wide a command of public and official situations, and to which property, liberty, and life are daily and hourly intrusted, often without appeal, whatever errors or unfaithfulness there may be in the protection of the rights committed to its members. It is the interest of the public that it should be confined, so far as the moral check of education can confine it, to its legitimate professors, as distinguished from the large and increasing class that belong to it only in name, and which has incalculably weakened its public and moral influence, and created a distrust in the public mind, which it requires no little effort to remove."
Mr. Joy cites one or two authorities for the purpose of proving his proposition that voluntary examination would be a sufficient test, as for instance :
"It would be necessary to fix the standard of examination either too high or too low. If we fix it at such a height as to test the stronger spirits there destined for the higher departments of business, then we should shut out of the profession all those men, who though but of moderate abilities are yet quite sufficient for the execution of a large portion of what may be termed the heavy routine business of the bar; and again, voluntary examination will answer all the purposes of establishing a public distinction between those who have made proof of their ability, and those who have shrunk from it, provided the examination be made really a severe test. It will not exclude from the profession the men of labour, but of moderate ability, who, as a working mass, are most useful, though individually not remarkable; nor will it exclude those who though possessed of talent or strength either cannot or will not develop it in early life. It will supply the existing deficiency of a legitimate means of making those known to the profession who do possess and can early exert brilliant abilities, without attempting to stigmatize others; and it will bring forward the bold and ambitious without deterring the retiring and over modest, who may yet beneath their crust of shyness conceal abilities of a high order."
Now one moment's consideration will show, that there is nothing in this which would have the effect of obviating the evils of which we have just complained. What is essentially requisite in this country is, a sufficient test of the qualifications of the men who come to the bar. If the examination were voluntary merely, the hordes of incompetent adventurers, of those depending upon the support of their own connexions, would be by no means diminished, and, until they are so, we need never expect to see the Irish bar what it ought to be, either as regards the qualifications or the character of its practitioners. There are some observations in a recent number of the "Jurist," which so fully bear out the opinion we have formed, with reference to the necessity of a compulsory examination, as a test, previous to admission to the bar,
that we trust we shall be pardoned if we extract them at length ::
"We confess that we have observed with regret, the reluctance of the Inns of Court to enforce upon the candidate for admission to the bar, the acquisition of some legal knowledge. It is difficult to perceive upon what grounds the present practice can be supported. It is, we believe, said, that the nature of a barrister's employment, the public manner in which it is exercised, and the intervention between the advocate and the client, of a competent judge, in the person of the attorney, render a preliminary test unnecessary; and without it, those only who are competent, will be employed as advocates. But why should the public, or rather, the litigating portion of them, be obliged to ascertain from amongst a crowd of persons, all bearing the same insignia of learning, those who indeed possess it, and those who have only its semblance-what coins are of true metal, and what of false. Rather is it the duty of the state, or in the present care of those to whom the state has delegated its authority, to present to its subjects, for their choice, in matters of such grave import as are intrusted to an advocate, those only who must, in some degree, be presumed to be competent for the task. But admitting that ultimately the character of each individual barrister is fairly and accurately ascertained-and when we do that, we are granting what is far from the fact, why should not this be facilitated by selecting the subjects for public experiment? It is said that the attorney will ascertain the fitness of the counsel: but how is he told so in the first instance? either he must personally know the untried man-a state of things, which, if it were possible, would be far from desirable, or he must run the risk of a mistake, and peril his client's interest in the choice of the advocate. Both these evils may be almost avoided by the adoption, not of an examination merely, through which all must pass, but of one by which the various degrees of proficiency would be made apparent; the public would have afforded to them some clue to guide their choice, and the unknown and friendless man of talent, who may now wait hopelessly for an opportunity of trying his powers, would have afforded to him one way at least of emerging from his obscurity.
"From the ranks of the bar are chosen numerous officers, judicial and otherwise; so much so, indeed, that the phrase, a barrister of seven years' standing,' has become proverbial. The confining the
choice of officers to any particular class, can only be justified on the ground of its peculiar fitness for the discharge of its duties. How is this fitness learned? What is done to make the barrister of seven years' standing more fit for his office than any other person? Nothing. He may have observed the forms required by the Inns of Court-forms, which have long ceased to have any meaning attached to them-without having ever seriously perused a single legal work, or during his attendance at a pleader's or conveyancer's chambers, extended his studies beyond the columns of a newspaper, donned the wig and gown, and fluttered for a time about the courts; thence retiring to more congenial pursuits, with which to while after away the probationary term; which, if he chance to have friends, he may obtain one of those places for which the legislature has declared them qualified. Those are the men whom such an examination would keep away from the bar, or if they did come, they would be obliged to acquire some knowledge.
"We think the honour of the bar and the interest of the public require that some test of fitness should be requiredin no other profession, we believe, is it wanting."
In the justness and truth of these observations we most fully concur; and, we are moreover of opinion, that there is nothing like a public viva voce examination for sounding the depths of a man's knowledge-his answers will continually suggest fresh questions and so the actual amount of his information upon any given subject will most easily be ascertained. With reference to the objection which has been so strongly urged against the policy of a compulsory examination, that country gentlemen and persons of consideration who now come to the bar for the purpose of becoming qualified to fulfil their respective duties in life, would, by this means, be deterred from doing so, we have only to observe that they can have the full benefit of the education, lectures, &c. ; and if, having had the advantage of these, they are found unable to pass the ordeal, there is no great harm done after all. It is not from such a class that the ornaments of the profession have ever been derived. They have conferred no lustre upon it; and if they seek to obtain additional position by becoming enrolled in its ranks,
it is but fair that they should not require the distinction without having to work for it. There is also a quality most pre-eminently useful at the bar, which public examinations would not only develope but encourage readiness and presence of mind, as well as a facility in giving utterance to the thoughts. Many men have experienced most painfully, in after-life, the consequences of a deficiency in this valuable quality, which a little early experience and practice could scarcely have failed to supply.
We are informed by the Chief Remembrancer that the benchers of the King's Inns have a property, consisting of seventy-four thousand five hundred and ninety-nine pounds, in the funds, besides two thousand odd pounds in bank, and an annual rental of more than two hundred a-year. They are the persons to whom the state has delegated its authority in these matters. They have an unlimited power to compel the student to go through any preparatory ordeal upon which they decide. Into their hands has the trust been committed of educating the bar of this country. Have they fulfilled, with ample and increasing funds at their command, that trust ?-have they ever done anything towards improving the intellectual condition of that profession to which they belong? We fear they have not. We hope
their inertness will not continue. We warn them that public attention is awake; and should they hesitate any longer to apply some portion of those large revenues at their command to the purposes of education, the country will demand that the state should resume the control of those funds which they have wilfully neglected to apply to their legitimate destination.*
It appears that while the expenses incidental to a call to the Bar of England amount to nearly one hundred pounds, while an outlay of nearly three hundred pounds is involved in a call to the Scotch Bar, the only fees payable in this country, exclusive
of stamp duty, are about thirty-eight pounds eighteen shillings. We see
no reason why this should be. Mr. Joy proposes that the students' fees should be increased about eighteen pounds; and we quite agree with him. This increase, would, of course, assist in defraying the salaries of competent professors, none of whom ought to have less than three or four hundred guineas a-year, which would make it worth the while of able and experienced lawyers to undertake the duties.
The plan of education which Mr. Joy proposes is in effect almost similar to that which has been introduced into the English Inns of Court. He suggests, however, in addition, that the two law professorships which at present exist in Trinity College, should be made available for a course of lectures between the period of taking the degree of bachelor and that of master; one in general jurisprudence, the other in the law of real property and criminal law. That a certificate of attendance on one course of lectures in each of these subjects, as well as examinations in them, should be required by the benchers previous to admission to the bar, independently of the more particular and practical courses connected with the Inns of Court of England and Ireland.
That after these preliminary studies at the University, two years should be devoted by students for the Irish Bar to study and attendance on lectures in law and equity, and examinations in England; and that a certificate of attendance upon two courses of lectures in each year-of which conveyancing should be one-should be essential to admission to the bar. He suggests that these two years of attendance upon lectures in the University should precede the course of education now being adopted in England; and that the benchers in this country should require certificates of the student's attendance upon each previous to his being called to the bar. The system of education which has lately been adopted in
The first move in the proper direction we have heard of is, the opening of the Law Library at an earlier hour. We believe it is now open from 8 o'clock a.m. until 6 p.m.; and while we are upon this subject we venture to express a hope that they have had the consideration to make an increase in the salary of the Assistant Librarian, proportionate to the additional labour which has devolved upon him. They could not possibly employ a portion of the large funds at their command better.
VOL. XXX.-No. 175.
the Middle Temple, promises to be very effective as far as it goes. A lecturer has been appointed for the purpose of giving lectures in jurisprudence and civil law; and two exhibitions have been established for the benefit of those students who shall exhibit the greatest proficiency in these studies; no student for the future to be admitted to the bar, who had not attended these lectures, which consist of three terminal courses, and each of these courses of twenty lectures. The first course to take place between the first day of Hilary term and the end of March; the second between the first day of Easter term and the 1st of July; and the third between the 26th of October and the 24th of December in each year.
An annual examination of students is to be held previous to their admission to the bar, which, however, is not to be compulsory, but for the purpose of encouraging the attendance of men, and of affording them an opportunity of becoming advantageously known, and acquiring distinction, lists are to be published, containing the names of those students who have acquitted themselves in a satisfactory manner, as well as of those whose answering has been distinguished by its marked superiority.
For the purpose of encouraging good attendance at the lectures, as well as answering at the examination, two prizes, of one hundred guineas each, are proposed for the competition of those who, having attended at least three terminal courses of lectures, shall have made the best examination.— This is all excellent as far as it goes. The period during which the system has been at work is not, of course, sufficient to test its efficacy, or to enable us to pronounce any decided opinion upon its merits. We are of opinion that these prizes will be most efficacious in promoting a diligent attendance at the lectures, as well as an incentive to the industry of those who are possessed of but slender means. We can discover no sufficient reason why a similar system should not be adopted at the King's Inns in this country-why prizes should not be offered and why an attendance at lectures, both here and in London, should not be enforced. There is one portion of this plan which we consider
most advisable that having reference to the publication of lists containing the names of those students whose answering has been successful, as well as of those who have obtained honours, thus affording to the student, at once, a direct incentive to industry and application, and at the same time, a guarantee, that these shall not have been opened in vain, for the client will thereby be afforded a sure index to direct him to the advocate to whose abilities he may entrust his cause, and many a man will be saved from the agonies of hope deferred, and the miserable mortification of waiting through a course of weary years for business which never comes.
The observations of Mr. Joy upon this point, are pregnant with good sense and ability :
"The student would thus enter upon the profession, ripe to undertake its duties, conscientiously and adequately, and would be likely, in a very short time, to meet with employment; his usefulness and competency would immediately be developed. According to the present usage, a lad of one or two and twenty years is called to the bar, and idles away term after term, and year after year, in the gossip of the hall, or reading at random in a law library, without assistance or encouragement. Such time as is not spent in the hall, or in miscellaneous reading, is passed in picking up, in an irksome attendance on the courts, detached arguments, or judgments upon cases, following one another in rapid succession, quite unconnected, and leaving a confused impression of legal points and principles, which he finds it impossible to reduce to any definite theory, or to arrange in his mind with reference to future use. If some good-natured client or favouring attorney, who thinks more of bringing his young kinsman into notice than of consulting the interests of his client, gives him employment in court, and if he is thus forced prematurely into business, he loses the chance of ever becoming a sound lawyer. His previous education is but a skeleton-his information has been acquired at random-he has no scientific knowledge of the principles of law-his reading has not been directed by any experienced head-he has gone over such books as accident suggestedhe has seen nothing of practice all he can do is to make himself up for the case he has to deal with, and so on for the next; and thus he goes on from case to case, congratulated by his less success
ful young friends, until when it is too late to methodize his knowledge, or to master law as a science, he sees his companions, who employed their years of studentship under a learned and experienced member of the profession, who guided their reading, and explained what they read, and developed the rules, principles, and science of the law, turn out superior scholars-more useful members of the profession-more steadily employed-and more likely to receive and to keep to their places as leaders at the Bar."
These are the observations of a man of sense and experience, who has fully considered the subject upon which he writes, and we hope that this pamphlet may have the effect of attracting the notice of the legislature, as well as of the profession, to this important subject.' The character of the profession will be raised; the standard of ability will be elevated; men will no longer seek to obtain employment by the mean and unworthy arts which are at present adopted; business will be distributed through its legitimate channels ; men will no longer seek it-like Lord Chancellor Jeffreysby getting drunk with attorneys; and the Irish bar will become again what it was once-the resort of educated gentlemen, competent to discharge the responsible duties of an arduous profession. We shall conclude these observations upon this subject, which we have been obliged to curtail much more than we intended, by making one more extract from Mr. Joy's book, which breathes a spirit that cannot be too much commended: :
mix so little together, when they happen to be at the same college, that they come to the bar almost strangers to each other. Nothing would tend more to better or kinder mutual feeling than being associated in the same classes during the four or five years proposed to be devoted to professional education, attending the same lectures, taking part in the same examinations, reading and conversing together on the same books, and gradually learning to appreciate in one another qualities which neither, perhaps, gave the other credit for possessing; and gradually softening down the doubts, distrust, and prejudices formerly cherished, from mutual unacquaintance. This may be done in merely professional education, without any compromise of those all-important opinions, whether in politics or religion, which early education may have implanted. From ignorance of one another, each is habituated to consider the other, in his own mind, in the false colour which party spirit sheds over every object; mutual distrust is the consequence, and is continually undermining the amenities of social intercourse, and indirectly affecting the character, and moral effect, and combined action of professional life. Familiar intercourse, at that period when life's cup runs sparkling to the brim, and feelings are fresh and unchilled by the experiences and disappointments of after years, is the first means of correcting those prejudices, and enabling men to do justice to one another. As intercourse increases, at a period when worldly interests and prospects of gain or ambition do not mutually interfere, they learn that neither talent nor virtue is peculiar to any party, and that men may differ on many and most important questions, and yet each be sincere, each trustworthy, and each retain his own opinions upon revealed truth. If conversation should occasionally turn upon such questions, each will learn what the other's views really are, and the grounds of them; and they will then have an opportunity of knowing them as they are, not as they have been misrepresented. They will learn the habit of stating each other's opinions fairly, which, even in professional life, as it respects the argument of an adversary, gives an intellectual, no less than a moral superiority."
Since this paper has been in type we are informed that these letters have had the effect which we would naturally have expected. At a meeting of the Benchers it has been resolved that some prompt measures shall be taken, and the introduction of a system similar to that proposed by Mr. Joy has been recommended.