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OFFICERS OF
JUDICIAL SECTION

1915-1916.
ORRIN N. CARTER, Chairman,

Chicago, Illinois.
GAYLORD LEE CLARK, Secretary,

Baltimore, Md.

FORMER OFFICERS 1913-15—ORRIN N. CARTER, Chairman,

GAYLORD LEE CLARK, Secretary.

PROCEEDINGS

OF THE

SECTION OF LEGAL EDUCATION

Monday, August 16, 1915, 2.30 P. M. The Section of Legal Education was called to order by the Chairman, Charles E. Shepard.

FIRST SESSION. The Chairman:

I feel that I ought to say now what I did not have the opportunity of saying last October in Washington, and that is to express my very great appreciation of the honor conferred upon me in electing me to preside over the Section of Legal Education this year.

I assure you that it was a very genuine surprise to me, in a real sense, and not in a Pickwickian sense, for my activity as a lawyer has been almost altogether in the way of ordinary practice at the Bar, and, while I have felt, and do feel that interest which every lawyer ought to feel in the realm of professional education, I have taken no active part in the meetings of this Section. I can therefore say that I feel both proud and humble at having been chosen to take here the seat which has formerly been held by such eminent jurists as Governor Baldwin, of Connecticut, and Dean Ames, of Hartford University, to mention no others.

There are three elements in the entire field of the Bar, which are and certainly ought to be interested in the deliberations of this Section. They are: the teachers who prepare applicants for admission to the Bar; the state examiners, who test the fitness of applicants for admission to the Bar; and the practising lawyers who absorb them into the general body of the Bar; and the work of this Section should be carried on by all of them. All have their separate points of view, and their interests are to be considered, and those points and those interests have their hearing in our deliberations.

For that reason, gentlemen, it seems to me peculiarly unfortunate that the Association of American Law Schools, as an official body, has been prevented, by an untoward conjunction of circumstances, from meeting with us this year—although, in fact, several of its prominent members are here present. It is to be hoped that in future some arrangement can be made by which there may be more positive and decided co-operation between the Association of American Law Schools and the Section of Legal Education of the American Bar Association, and also that there may be more positive and direct co-operation and interaction between the law schools and the Bar examiners.

Our session this afternoon is to be devoted to an address on the best practical method of ascertaining the character and fitness of candidates for admission to the Bar, by Hon. David Leventritt, of New York City. I am sorry to say that he himself is not able to be present, but he has sent his paper, and I will ask Mr. Walter George Smith, of Philadelphia, to read it to us.

(The address follows these minutes, page 767.) The Chairman :

This very interesting paper is now open for general discussion, and I hope we shall hear from gentlemen engaged in practising law and gentlemen who have acted as Bar examiners as well as from teachers and professors of the law.

Andrew A. Bruce, of North Dakota :

It seems to me that the last portion of this paper is the most suggestive. We cannot emphasize too strongly the value of the character examination, and this on account of the influence that it will have upon the student himself. We must, at the outset, make the young lawyer believe that his is an honorable profession and that he, himself, is expected to be honorable. We have accepted too long without protest, if they are false, and without repentance if they are true, cheap witticisms which reflect upon the integrity of the profession, so that many young lawyers are led to believe that trickery is expected of them. To give a dog a bad name is to hang him. To let the young man accept these alleged witticisms and to enter the profession without any other standard before him is to take away from him moral safeguards which he greatly needs. There have been too many jokes about the dishonest lawyer. It is not a joking matter and we cannot allow the young man to enter the profession thinking that it is. I know that we cannot by any examination really test moral character. Certificates of good character are often signed as a matter of course and are of little value. We should at the outset remind the candidate of the dignity of the profession. We should remind him that in ancient France and Spain a lawyer was made a nobleman and this largely because he was expected to be noble. The character examination makes the young lawyer stop and think and take his bearings. It may, perhaps, serve much of the same purpose as the practice that was followed in mediæval times when the order of knighthood was conferred. The knight of old was required not only to be one who was well trained in the use of arms, but one who served God and was without fear and without reproach. On the eve of his initiation into knighthood he was therefore required to watch his armor through the long hours of the night as it lay on the altar of the cathedral or of the church. This was to remind him of his duty to God as well as to men. The important thing is not the machinery by which the young man is admitted to practice, but it is to make him conscious of the fact that at the portals of his profession are integrity and honor, and that he, himself, is expected to be honorable.

Hollis R. Bailey, of Massachusetts:

Having heard from the author of this paper something as to the procedure in New York, I would like to state briefly the method now followed in Massachusetts. In Massachusetts we have come to recognize, year by year, the importance of more and more careful inquiry as to the moral character of the applicants who are recommended for admission to the Bar. The matter is left by the court and the rules of court in our statutes to the report of the Bar examiners, and not with a special committee on moral character of applicants. I suppose that practice may be the more usual. Heretofore we may have been satisfied with, first, a certificate—not under oath, but a certificate in writing-signed by members of the Bar stating that in their opinion an applicant was of good moral character. Now if an applicant comes to us from a law school, a certificate from the law school that to the best of its knowledge and belief the applicant is of good moral character, is brought to us. Then, if the young man has studied in a law office, a certificate from the attorney with whom he has studied is presented stating not only that he has studied for a certain time a certain amount of law, but that in the opinion of the attorney he is of good moral character. I have been interested to observe that in New York they require those statements to be under oath, and I think we might well adopt that in Massachusetts, the first person named being an attorney who volunteers to recommend that the man has a good moral character. In this present summer we have adopted a new rule—that is, not exactly a rule but an unwritten practice. We have felt that the attorneys recommending young men were not perhaps as careful as they should be as to their means of knowing what the moral character of the young men was. The day before I left Massachusetts I made provision for the sending out of 145 letters to as many different attorneys who had recommended men for admission to the Bar, asking them to state in detail their names and sources of information concerning the applicants recommended by them. We think that plan will be useful. I suppose those replies are now coming in to the office and are being scrutinized by another member of our board. That is one step forward.

Now, one thing more. In reading over the rules which we had a year ago I find that we put in a clause providing that the list of successful applicants—not only the names, but their legal residences and also their post-office addresses—should not only be published in a newspaper for three successive days, but that copies of that list should be sent to the clerks of court throughout the state, in fifteen different counties, and should also be sent to the Secretaries of each of our local Bar Associations. We have perhaps a dozen or possibly fifteen local Bar Associations included in our State Bar Association. So that now we send a copy of that list to each of the Bar Associations, and there is a request made to them that they investigate the applicants as far as may be possible; and some of the Secretaries of those local associations are beginning to do very careful work in the way of investigating the moral character of applicants in their respective localities. We are hoping that this work may be extended. Therefore, you see that we fully recognize the importance of this inquiry, and we are trying to learn from the practice in other states.

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