Page images
PDF
EPUB

Sharswood, who is generally regarded as the Bar's greatest spokesman on the ethics of the profession, has said of the lawyer:

There are many cases, in which it will be his duty, perhaps more properly his privilege, to work for nothing. It is to be hoped that the time will never come at any Bar in this country, when a poor man with an honest cause, though without a fee cannot obtain the services of honest counsel, in the prosecution or defence of his rights.

We believe that there is entire agreement among members of the Bar that the foregoing ethical principles have moral binding force on the profession. We do not believe that there is any desire or disposition to shirk or evade the responsibility thus imposed. We know that everywhere, and particularly in the smaller cities and towns, lawyers are called upon to give and do give substantially of their time and strength to non-paying clients.

But it is perfectly obvious that the needs of the poor are too great to be coped with by lawyers acting alone and as individuals. In our cities where the applicants for free legal assistance are numbered in the thousands (New York 50,000; Chicago 20,000; Philadelphia, Cleveland, Boston 5000; Kansas City 6000; Los Angeles 10,000 and so on) the need can be met only through some organized effort and organized plan.

Lawyers can bear their part of the responsibility only by cooperation; in other words, through their bar associations which are the instrumentalities for all the co-operative and collective undertakings of the Bar.

In short, for all practical purposes it may be said that the responsibility to aid in securing free legal aid to the poor rests on the bar associations because in most cases the individual lawyer can best perform his ethical obligation vicariously and through his bar association. This is only pointing out what is so obviously true in so many directions: the lawyer best does his duty towards improving the administration of justice, legal education, and standards of conduct through membership and work in a bar association.

This proposition has already found sanction and expression in a resolve adopted by the Conference of Bar Association Delegates in 1917:

It is the sense of this Conference that bar associations, state and local, should be urged to foster the formation and efficient administration of legal aid societies for legal relief work for the worthy poor.

What is true of state and local associations is equally true of the American Bar Association. As the national leader it must set the standard and the example; and to the extent that legal aid work has become a national movement the American Bar Association alone has adequate jurisdiction to sponsor, aid, and direct it.

Experience has demonstrated beyond question that the efficient and economical method of providing legal advice and assistance to the poor is through the legal aid organizations, of which there are now nearly fifty, which organizations are formed and adapted for this very purpose and which maintain a corps of two hundred and fifty persons specially trained and expert in the conduct of those cases which are of primary concern to the poor. Nowhere in the world has any better method of meeting this problem been devised. The legal aid organization has been the contribution of American enterprise and thought in the matter of improving the administration of justice in this particular direction.

From what has already been said it appears that the simple duty of the individual lawyer to give free assistance to the individual poor person becomes, in our highly complicated society, a duty which is best performed by membership in a bar association which association then takes up and performs the duty. And further, the association does not perform the duty by providing legal assistance directly to individual poor persons in individual cases but by providing legal aid organizations which in their turn give the actual legal aid in actual cases.

In this way arises the relationship between the bar association and the legal aid organizations, predicated on and determined by the simple obligation to the poor man enjoined by ethics on the individual lawyer.

Just as the ethical obligation on the individual lawyer is permanent and continuing in nature so the responsibility of the bar association towards legal aid work is perpetual.

For that reason it has seemed to your committee that the American Bar Association should organize itself to meet this continuing responsibility through a continuing committee which should be appointed annually as a matter of constitutional requirement rather than as a matter of special resolution.

Thus the relationship would become clear, fixed, and permanent.

It is our idea that such a standing committee would each year give to the Association the cardinal facts about legal aid work; the number of organizations, the amount of work done, sums expended in the conduct of the work; it would consider the feasibility of having the conferences of the National Alliance of Legal Aid Societies held in conjunction with the American Bar Association; it would endeavor to see that the legal aid movement in its national aspects, in its plans for national expansion, obtained the services of lawyers of national prominence who through their leadership could help in charting the course to be followed and the rules to be observed.

We are of the opinion that no action could be taken by the Association which would be more beneficial in arousing popular

interest in and approval of the work of the Association. In recent years the public at large has gained a definite impression as to the great legal and political importance of legal aid work as a prime factor in allaying unrest; in removing unjust sus-. picion of the integrity of our institutions, and in promoting good citizenship. For the American Bar Association to be a leader in this great work would not only be a blessing to the legal aid organizations but also would redound to the credit and advantage of the Association itself. We find that there is a widespread interest in legal aid work among the younger members of the Bar and we believe that their interest in the Association would be aroused by this demonstration of the Association's interest in matters which they regard as of the first practical importance.

When this committee was first organized, Hon. Charles E. Hughes was made its Chairman. From this position he was obliged to resign on his appointment as Secretary of state. His great interest in this matter is known and fortunately he has expressed his opinion as to the main ideas embodied herein. We are glad to close this report by quoting from his address before the Association at St. Louis last August:

“ While the legal aid organizations are instruments of the entire community, they perform a service which lawyers should regard as peculiarly their own. Whatever else lawyers may accomplish public affairs, it is their privilege and obligation to assure a competent administration of justice to the needy, so that no man shall suffer in the enforcement of his legal rights for want of a skilled protector, able, fearless, and incorruptible.

“ The Bar Associations, in turn should provide the necessary oversight, or visitation, in order to guarantee to the community that the legal aid work does not fall into spiritless routine, but is well officered and constantly rises to the full height of opportunity.”

Respectfully submitted,

WILLIAM R. VANCE,
FORREST C. DONNELL,
ERNEST L. TUSTIN,
EDWARD Q. KEASBEY,
REGINALD HEBER SMITH.

REPORT

OF THE

SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON THE LAW OF AVIATION.
To the Executive Committee of the American Bar Association:

RECOMMENDATION.
We recommend, if the Executive Committee approve:

1. That the members of the American Bar Association be requested to give their attention to the fundamental problems of jurisprudence and especially of constitutional law, involved in the proper solution of the demands of aeronautics.

2. That a copy of this report, as the report of this committee, be placed in the hands of the President and each member of Congress, and each member of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, and in the Library of Congress and of the Smithsonian Institution, and that two copies be given to each of the Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, and that one thousand additional copies be made available for distribution to those especially interested in the subject, to the end that its subject matter may be duly considered in the enactment of any legislation.

3. That the American Bar Association at the annual meeting express its hope that in the enactment of any legislation by Congress the most careful preliminary consideration be given to the constitutional features of any proposed legislation, to the end that it may be determined whether the proper development and regulation of aeronautics does not require a constitutional amendment conferring complete jurisdiction over aeronautics upon the United States through its appropriate departments, instead of attempting to adopt devices of questionable constitutionality to make existing national powers apply to this new branch of human activity; and that meanwhile all national legislation studiedly observe the existing constitutional limitations, and preserve without assault the existing division of powers between the United States and the states of the union; and that all constitutional state legislation involving matters not purely of local interest and application shall be studiously made uniform.

* So much that is controversial, or open to future determination by the courts or otherwise is involved in the following report that its conclusions are not to be taken as positive statements but only as expressions of view tentatively advanced by members of the committee, subject to possible modification upon further consideration.

4. That the committee be continued as a special committee of the Association.

INTRODUCTION. This committee, designated as the Special Committee on the Law of Aviation, was appointed, pursuant to the action of the Executive Committee, at its meeting in St. Louis, immediately following the annual meeting of the Association in 1920.

THE COMMITTEE'S PRELIMINARY REPORT. The committee made a preliminary report to the Executive Committee at its meeting in New Orleans in January, 1921. That report was chiefly valuable for the bibliography which was annexed, containing lists of published articles upon the law of aeronautics and the sources from which the information was obtained. Copies of the report have been in demand from many public libraries, and officials and individuals interested in the subject matter, and the chairman of the committee has had much correspondence.

As this final report for the current first year of the existence of this committee is likely to have a still wider circulation, we repeat some of the information in the preliminary report.

OTHER COMMITTEES. The Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in August, 1920, adopted the following resolution under which a committee has been appointed :

The whole world has come to a realization of the fact that aviation is practical and not a mere art or fad for pleasure and profit in exhibition flying, for many states in the union now have scores of aviators constantly flying from state to state carrying commerce between the states, which aviation needs regulation, so your committee recommends the appointment of a special committee to investigate this subject and report as soon as practical a uniform aviation law.

Since our preliminary report the New York State Bar Association and the New York County Lawyers have each appointed a committee to consider and deal with the law of aeronautics. The Aero Club of America, as the direct result of the action of the Executive Committee of the American Bar Association in providing for our committee, appointed a committee of lawyers to coöperate, which is composed of lawyers with especial experience either as actual fliers or as counsel for those who have been commercially interested in the development of the art. THE INCREASING PUBLIC INTEREST AND THE IMPORTANT

FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM OF JURISDICTION. Not to mention the numerous commercial interests involved and the various periodicals devoted to the subject, the increasing

« PreviousContinue »