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Suggestions for Incorporating the Inns of Chancery.


to act as Attorneys in the Courts, therefore, but six Attorneys for each County and two for mainly contributed to the establishment of the City, and that all admissions by the JusInns of Court and Chancery, and accordingly tices over these numbers shall be void. to both class of Inns the Attorneys had, for centuries, a right of membership.

The exact relationship that the Inns of Court and Chancery originally held towards each other is not very accurately defined, save that Fortescue writes, "The Inns of Chancery are so called because the Students in them are for the most part young men learning the first elements of the Law, and becoming good proficients therein as they grow up, are taken into the Inns of Court," and thus (as an illustration) Sir Thomas More entered at New Inn, and then went on to Lincoln's Inn; and by 38th Eliz., none were to be admitted into the Inns of Court till he had a Chamber taken in the House, and in the meantime to be of some Inn of Chancery.

The Statute of 3rd James 1, c. 7 (1604), is in part in these words. The second section says, "To avoid the infinite number of Attor neys and Solicitors, be it enacted, That none shall henceforth be admitted Attorneys in any of the King's Courts of Record but such as have been brought up in the same Courts, or otherwise well practised in soliciting of Causes, and have been found by their dealings to be skilful and of honest disposition, and that none be suffered to solicit any cause in any of the Courts aforesaid but only such as are known to be men of sufficient and honest disposition.

The Rules (made by the Justices) relating to the admission of Attorneys were these ;

The Rules of 1654 direct "That no Attorney In both Inns there were schools fitted up for shall be admitted or allowed to practise as persons of station. The difference that has an Attorney unless a common Solicitor of five grown up between the Inns of Court and years' standing, or he has served five years Chancery is attributable wholly to the distinc-as a Clerk to some Judge, Serjeant, &c., &c., tion which has been created (since the institution of those Societies) in the Profession between the Barrister and the Attorney. When this distinction was fixed will be seen in tracing the qualification needed for the two Branches of the Profession.

The following Statutes (prior to 2 Geo. 2) had reference to the admission, &c., of Attor


The Statute of 20 Ed. 1, besides what has been stated, proposed to limit their number to 140.3

The 4th Hen. 4, c. 18, is (in part) in these words, "for sundry damages and mishaps that have ensued before this time to divers persons of the Realm by a great number of Attorneys ignorant and not learned in the Law as they were wont to be before this time (1402). It is ordained, that all Attorneys shall be examined by the justices, and, by their discretion, their names put in the Roll, and they that be good and virtuous and of good fame shall be received and sworn, well and truly, to serve in their Offices, and especially that they make no suit in a Foreign Country; and if any Attorney do die, or do cease, the Justices shall make another in his place, which is a virtuous man and learned.”

In 11th Henry 4 (1410), it is directed that the Justices select Attorneys, not more than twelve, and not less than six, in each County (vol. 3, p. 642). The 33rd Hen. 6, c. 7, (1455), reciting the great evils resulting from the number of ignorant Attorneys in the City of Norwich, and the Counties of Norfolk and Suffolk, enacts that there shall be thenceforth

Attorney, Clerk, or Officer of the Court;" and further expressly orders that "All Officers and Attorneys of this Court be admitted to some Inn of Court or Chancery, and be in Commons one week in every Term, and take Chambers there (or near, if Chambers cannot be had within the Inn), under pain of being put out of the Roll of Attorneys."

The Rules of 1704 recite that divers complaints have been made that many Attorneys and Clerks are not admitted in any of the Inns of Court or Chancery, according to ancient custom or usage, by which they might be resorted to and business of Law better managed, to the greater ease of the Queen's Subjects, the neglect whereof is to the great detriment and decay of the Societies of the Law, and divers inconveniences do thereupon daily happen, for prevention whereof, and to establish a remedy, the Rules then direct that all Attorneys and Clerks of the said Court, not already admitted, &c., shall procure themselves to be admitted into one of the said Inns of Court (if those Honourable Societies will admit them), or into one of the Inns of Chancery.

And again "No person should thereafter be sworn an Attorney of any of the Courts unless he had been first admitted a Member of one of the said Inns, and brought with him the Certificate of Admission signed by the Treasurer or Principal."

When an Attorney ceased to be a Member of an Inn of Court or Chancery, he ceased to be qualified to act as an Attorney, and, therefore, he could not leave one Society until he had gained and produced a Certificate of his Admission into some other Inn. The Attorneys were also, by the same authority, enjoined to come into Commons of their respective Inns, "to their great ease in transacting their Causes one with another, and with much benefit to By way of contrast, it may be remarked their Clients," and that their neglect might not that the number of Attorneys is now nearly tend to the great decay and detriment of the 7,000 in the country, and upwards of 3,000 in said Societies.

2 When the distinction first arose may not be easy to determine. In 16 Ric. 2, (Vol. 3 Rolls of P., p. 306), the Attorney and Counsel are spoken of as distinct agents.


o 2


Suggestions for Incorporating the Inns of Chancery.

As to the Qualification for the Bar. The qualifications and privileges of the Barrister do not stand on the same grounds as those by which the rights and privileges of the Attorney are secured, viz., A series of Statutes of the Realm; but the difference between the two Classes of the Profession exists only by the authority of Rules made by the Judges, as Visitors of the Inns of Court, which Rules the Judges, in their several Courts, see fit to enforce in favour of the Bar.

The Rules, therefore, that relate to the qualification formerly required for the Bar are principally these:-The Rule of the 13th Eliz. declares that the Candidate is to be no utter Barrister till he has been twice mooted in the Hall, or as often in some Inn of Chancery; and by the 14th Eliz., that he shall keep three learned Vacations after their Callings, or otherwise serve the Houses of Chancery during their Readings.

By the Rule of 22 Eliz. none could be allowed to plead at any Bar at Westminster unless a Barrister of five years, and he had continued that time in exercise of learning, or read in an Inn of Chancery, by the space of

two years before.

The Inns of Chancery offered, therefore, a partial qualification for the Bar. So again, by Rule of 5 Car. 1 (relating to Gray's Inn): The Candidate must have been seven years in Commons in Gray's Inn, or two years' continuance in an Inn of Chancery, and five years' Commons in this House; and by the same Rule the Butler is to keep an account of the exercises of Gentlemen under the Bar abroad at the Inns of Chancery.

The exclusive Audience of the Barrister is secured by the Rules of 16 and 22 Eliz. The first of these Rules is, "None to plead in any Court at Westminster unless he be a Reader, Bencher, or utter Barrister;" and the Rule of 22 Eliz. has already been given.

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It is not necessary to trace the qualification for either branch of the Profession beyond the period at which the two Branches become completely distinct in their functions, and severed in association from each other. Thus, the Attorney was excluded from Audience in open Court in the years 1574 and 1580, and he was excluded from the Inns of Court in 1556, 1574, and 1614.

entire separation between the Inns of Court and the Inns of Chancery resulted, and ever after the former have been held by the Bar, and the latter by the Attorneys.

It is quite true that the Judges, by other and later rules, sought to make the Government of the Inns of Chancery subordinate to the Benchers of the Inns of Court; but there is no evidence whatever that this power was ever recognised by the authorities of either such Inns, but on the contrary, in the cases Rex v. Allen and Rex v. Barnard's Inn, search was made in vain among the Records of the Temple and Gray's Inn to show that either of the latter Inns had ever exercised any such control (over Clifford's Inn and Barnard's Inn), and the Kings Bench, in those cases, refused to enforce obedience.

And again, it is submitted whether the very language of those rules does not prove the Members of the Inns of Chancery to have been then only Attorneys, Clerks, and Officers of the Court, as it is against such only that the penalty of disobedience is imposed. (See Rule of 6 Car. 1 (1638), and subsequent Rules in Dugdale).

However, Lord Campbell puts the title of the Attorneys beyond doubt; for, in speaking of Chief Justice Hale's entrance into the Profession, he remarks, in a note, "The custom of Law Students to be first entered in an Inn of Chancery, before being submitted to an Inn of Court (which had prevailed in Lord Coke's time), seems now (1629) to have become obsolete, and the Inns of Chancery were entirely abandoned to the Attorneys."

It ought not, therefore, to be denied that the Attorneys (as a Class) are entitled to enjoy exclusively the advantages and emoluments of the Inns of Chancery till they are restored to Membership in the Inns of Court.

With respect to the second division of the subject, few persons will be found to justify the present use of the funds and advantages arising from the Inns of Chancery.

In their original foundation they were Educational Establishments for Law Students, and they are still capable of being restored to these purposes.

Even to preserve them as public property it is essential that they should be secured by Act of Parliament; for as, A. D. 1460, there were As to exclusion from the Inns of Court, the Ten Inns of Chancery, and there are now but Rule of 3 & 4 Philip and Mary declared, Five of them remaining, surely there is reason "That no Attorney shall be admitted into any to fear, judging from experience, that the reof the Houses of Court, and that in all admis-maining Five will, in course of years, be lost sions from henceforth this condition shall be to the Profession." implied, that if the Member practise any The Committee of 1846 pointed out the obAttorneyship, then, ipso facto, he shall be dismissed, but with liberty to return to the Inn of Chancery from whence he came."

And the 16th Eliz. (1754), “If any Member practise as Attorney and Solicitor, he shall be put out of the Society, except those that moot," &c. Again, the 12th James 1 (1614), "No Attorney or Solicitor shall be admitted to any

of the Inns of Court."

It is submitted, that from these Rules the

ject for which these Societies should be preserved. And the question then comes-in what way can the Five remaining Inns of Chancery be secured as public seminaries to supply the acknowledged want of Legal Edu

• When Thynne and Whitlock wrote in 1580, they mention that the Inns of Chancery were then only eight in number. - J. Hearne's Curious Discourses, p. 69.

Suggestions for Incorporating the Inns of Chancery.

cation to the Attorneys and Solicitors of England.


study open to him:-1st, two years' (first and fifth year) Reading and three years' Service; or, 2ndly, four years' Service and one year's Reading (fifth year); and an Attorney becoming such under the 1st Course of study, should be entitled to go to the Bar on one other year's Reading at any Inn of Court. 7

The property of each Inn consists of (say) a noble Hall, and an Income of (say) 2001. to 1,500l. per annum. Still there is no reason why Students-at-Law, any more than Students in Divinity or Physic, should learn their Profession other than at their own expense; but Each Inn should have its number of Stuit is needed that the Law Students should (as dents limited; but the choice of Inn (subject other Students) have places of study found for to the choice of Admission) should be left to them. Now places of study were one of the the Student. first requisites, the want of which was pointed out and referred to in the Committee of 1846. The Halls are in fine condition, and as well able now, as in Fortescue's time, to hold 100 Students each.

The use of these, and future government in those Inns, are what the Students require.

It is proposed, therefore, to incorporate the Inns of Chancery into one Legal University for Solicitors, each Inn preserving its own government, so far as is compatible with the welfare of the whole.

Upon the Books of one of those Inns the Student should be entered at the time that he is articled; and before he is accepted by the Inn as a Student he should undergo a preliminary Examination in Classics and General Knowledge by the Benchers (aided by their Readers) as to his then Educational attain

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Every University has the power of rejecting or postponing the admission of illiterate Candidates, and these Inns (acting under general Rules framed by the Judges) should have the same power. Upon this matriculation the Candidate, and the Attorney taking him under Articles, should enter into Bonds, the Student to observe the Rules of the Society, and the Master to pay the fees required for education.

As the Attorney undertakes the instruction of his Clerk, he should be the party responsible to the Society for all payments required for education.

The Student should have two Courses of

Each Inn should be compelled to appoint two or more Readers, being Barristers, Members of the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge, and of one of the Inns of Court.

These should hold Classes daily during each Term, in Hall, and the Students should take up such Books, and pursue such a Course of study as the Readers should (with the approval of the Benchers) from time to time direct.

The Students, at the end of each Term of Attendance, should be examined by the Readers of the Inns, in the presence of the Benchers, and Certificates of Merit or competency issued to them. The Benchers, acting on the Report of the Readers, should have the power of refusing Certificates. No Candidate should be permitted to enter for his final Examination at the Law Institution until he had lodged Certificates of Four Term Examinations at his Inn.

Now under such a system it would be impossible that any number of ignorant Attorneys could get admission. A systematic course of study would have been pursued, and the Examination in each Term would be a protection that it was effectual, and the Students were really gaining knowledge. The method suggested would protect the public from ignorance, and afford some guarantee for character; for, if the Students were suffered to associate from time to time in Commons, there, in social intercourse, the virtue of individual character would be appreciated, and the whole line of character, in the aggregate, would be raised. As each Inn would vie with the others to attain pre-eminence in reputation, so would the Students be stimulated to preserve, by their conduct, the honour of their Society.

5 It may be thought objectionable to compel every Student to come to this one College. There is no reason why Law Colleges should not (as to the Crown seems fit) be established at Manchester and other places having formed If such a system were pursued, the Public Law Schools. Students for Divinity, &c., may would have gained one of the ends for which graduate at Durham, St. Bee's, and other these Societies were founded, viz., learned places, besides Oxford or Cambridge, and men. Students at Law should have the same privi. lege. Besides, London and Country practice vary so considerably, that an Examination for London practice fails of its usefulness when applied to Country Attorneys, never having occasion personally to practise in the Courts at Westminster.

The Incorporated Law Society, in their Report for 1854, proposes (p. 18) a Classical and General Examination before admission to practise; it is submitted that the Candidate should have acquired this knowledge before he enters upon this new study of the Law.

The cost of the education should be borne mainly by the recipients of its advantages.

The ordinary cost of entering the Profession may be estimated at 300l. or 3151. premium, and 801. for Stamp on Articles.

A tenth of the Articled Clerks are said to enter a Barrister's Chambers for the last year of Articles, and, if so, the anuual cost (at 1007.

7 It will be remembered that, formerly, reading in an Inn of Chancery gave a partial qualification to the Bar, which should be restored.



Suggestions for Incorporating the Inns of Chancery.

Annum each pupil) would be for 38 pupils, | deavour has been to secure what the framers of say 3,8001. per annum.

The Stamp on Articles, the Commissioners are aware, has recently been reduced from 1207., so that to impose upon the Attorney taking a Clerk (who will charge the fee to the Clerk in his premium) a payment of 10l. to 201. for his education, could not be held to be a grievance by either of them.

The number of Attorneys admitted in the ten years ending Easter Term, 1846, was 3,994, nearly equal to 400 per annum. In the year 1854, 391 were examined, and 347 were admitted; and taking 380 as the average number of Clerks in the fifth year of their Articles, and 101. per annum for each Student, the sum of 3,800l. would be the annual income from Stu

dents for education.

If Four Inns of Chancery were incorporated as "the University," and the Students entered_equally, 950l. would fall to the share of each Inn.

Now what should be added to these funds out of the annual Income of the Societies must be left for the Commissioners in the first instance, and the Judges, as Visitors, hereafter, to decide; but, assuming 1,200l. per annum to be the Income of each Inn, derived from Students' Fees and its own contribution, it would furnish a fair income of 400l. per annum to three Readers in the three branches of Legal Science.

The expenses of management should be thrown upon the Income of the Societies, so that the Student should receive the full benefit of his Educational subscription without the slightest deduction.

Let the residue of the annual Income of each Society be used in a becoming hospitality on Examination and other Public Days, and let the privileges of freedom from expense be enjoyed, as it now is, by the Ancients, alone, and let the ordinary Member or Student still continue to bear his own expense of Com


This plan, applying only to Students hereafter entering the Profession, could not come into full operation till four years. Till this period arrives let the resources of the Societies be husbanded, so as to enable them in the fourth year to purchase and establish a Library within the Inn for the Students thereof.

The remaining question is, are the present Governing bodies of these Societies so obsolete and decayed as not fit to be intrusted with such responsibilities? If so, this can easily be remedied for the present, and the future Members of the Bench should be selected for intellectual attainment, and the position they may have respectively held in their Class, and final Examination for Admission. If these Societies are decayed, it can be so in no other sense than in their Government and the pre

the early Statutes felt to be so essential for the happiness of Society, viz., firstly, virtuous men; secondly, learned men; and thirdly, to limit the number of Attorneys.

The Class of Attorneys will be degenerated rather than diminished by the measures the public are now taking to discourage the Profession. A lower grade in society quite as numerous as that from which Attorneys have hitherto been taken will crowd into the ranks. and the evils of Litigation will be frightfully aggravated by the Litigants being served, and not restrained, by Professional Agents in a low social station.

Far better, it is submitted, will it be to limit the number by increasing the qualifications needed from Candidates, as in this one measure you raise the Status as well as diminish the number of Candidates.

Something must be done. Lord Brougham, speaking in 1846 of the Education of the Bar, says, "I am sorry to say that it is at as low an ebb as it is possible for Education to be in any country." There are no means taken to instruct the Pupil in Law. The Committee add, "The Education of the second Branch of the Profession, that of the Solicitor, is not less neglected."

Since 1846 no additional measures have been taken, except by the Benchers of the Inns of Court, to wipe off the stigma of ignorance thus placed on the Profession, and as far as the Attorneys are concerned, it still remains before the Country on the Records of Parliament.

2, Gray's Inn Square.

12th December, 1854.

SIR,-In a paper which I had the pleasure of submitting to the consideration of the Commissioners (which was acknowledged in terms of undeserved consideration towards me), I remarked it was necessary that Parliament should interfere to preserve the Inns of Chancery as Public property.

Would you do me the favour to put as a note, "When Thynne and Whitlock wrote in 1580, they mention that the Inns of Chancery were then only eight in number."-J. Hearne's Curious Discourses, p. 9.

I am not sure that 1580 is the exact date; the papers were contributed between the 14th Elizabeth and 1604, when the Society was dissolved.


&c. &c. &c.

sent expenditure of their Incomes. Any such To J. T. Airey, Esq.
abuses could be easily remedied, and the Insti-
tutions restored to the uses of Education, with
vast benefit to the whole community.

In the plan that has been suggested, the en

2, Gray's Inn Square,
May 26, 1855.

Selection of Counsel by Attorneys-Opinions of the Press.




of the Rule of the Bar, which prohibits Counsel from receiving cases or briefs, or attending conferences or consultations with the suitor, except through the medium of THE objections recently made by Mr. Attorneys or Solicitors. He observes that, Phillimore, Q.C., before the Inns of Court "In Law, as in other pursuits, you must Commissioners regarding the selection of have a start. In some instances, perhaps, Counsel by Attorneys and Solicitors, have chance brings a man into notice, as in the been noticed in an able article in Black-case of Lord Thurlow, who was overheard wood's Magazine for this month, which discussing the Douglas peerage in the tavern. we believe proceeded from the pen of Mr. Warren, Q.C. And the subject has also been somewhat fully discussed in the Daily News: we therefore return to the subject which was submitted to our readers in our number for the 5th January.

well-known friend or relation who gives a BarBut in the vast majority of cases it is some rister his first brief. In other kinds of business, a man, in order to make his way, must either have money wherewith to purchase a share, or a large connexion, out of which he may form the nucleus of his future customers. In medicine, the student walks the hospitals or practises among the poor, and thus acquires for himself a reputation for skill and intelligence. But at the Bar scarcely any student reads in a Barrister's chambers for more than three years, and even that short period is divided amongst several masters. Unless, therefore, the Barrister in whose chambers the pupil reads takes a fancy to him, and puts business in his way, a pupil without connexion retires after his three years of reading to his garret in Lincoln's Inn or the Temple, and there consumes his soul in the vain expectation of a gentle tap by some Attorney's clerk at the door of his aerial abode. Day after day our assiduous young Barrister, Mr. Vainlabour, toils down to Westminster, puts on his wig and flowing robes, and sits attentively taking notes of the various cases which are being debated. In the afternoon he again doffs his robes and returns to his chambers. In this dismal chamber our friend Vainlabour transcribes his notes till the hour of five, when he retires for a time

In Blackwood's Magazine it is said,“That Mr. Phillimore's statement conveys a most serious accusation against a body of men numbering, in England only, no fewer than 10,000. It is no part (says the reviewer) of our province at present to assert or deny that there is any sufficient foundation for so bold and grave a charge against so respectable and influential a body of men, but if they really have it in their power, from motives and considerations how natural or excusable soever, to urge forward into and keep back from employment and public notice whomsoever they please, then in at least the former of the two cases it surely is desirable that the public should be able to secure some little guarantee of at least inchoate fitness for the greatness to be thrust upon' the favourite. The existing relations between the two great branches into which the Legal Profession in England is at present divided, that is, the Bar and the Attorneys, are undoubtedly such as occasion an overwhelming influence' being exercised to prepare himself for his evening studies. by the latter upon the former. Two or three Attorneys in moderate practice can with ease secure to a young Barrister of only moderate abilities, with only a modicum of professional learning, and without one vestige of general accomplishment from the moment of his don- "But how different is the fate of Mr. Vainning wig and gown, a moderate and even labour's fellow-pupil Silverspoon. His career handsome income at the Bar. If the fortunate at college gave no promise of distinction, and favourite be also a man of eloquence, ability, yet no sooner is he called to the Bar than his learning and industry his fortune is rapidly table is covered with briefs, and he forthwith made, for he is early trained in the exercise of riots in all the luxury of a flood of business. his profession, his name is continually before The story of his success is no mystery. His the eyes and in the ears of his profession and father and his uncle are partners in two of the the public, and his income increases almost as largest legal firms in the City, and, naturally fast as he could wish. *enough, they send any business which is to be transacted by counsel to young Mr. Silverspoon. This proceeding, indeed, is natural enough; and, if law business were like any other, there would be no great harm in it. But legal business is a thing quite by itself. Most men can form a pretty accurate notion as to whether commercial business is conducted speedily and well; but who shall fathom the mysteries of an attorney's bill? Who shall say whether ten steps have not been taken where one would have sufficed? whether the

"We would with infinitely greater alacrity express our belief that a great number of Barristers and Attorneys are untainted in their respective departments, sternly jealous of the integrity and honour of the Profession, and as eager and loud to denounce malpractice of any kind as to expose and punish it when able."

A writer in the Daily News takes up this subject and contends, that the remedy for the evil will be found in the abolition

So passes year after year the laborious life of the industrious Mr. Vainlabour, who, if he had only had the opportunity, would certainly have earned a competence if he did not attain eminence.

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