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respect the institution would have corresponded to the English conception of a University, as both a teaching and examining body. The proposal provoked bitter opposition from two different quarters. The Inns of Court saw their control over aspirants to the bar passing away from them; and the existing Universities and Colleges, professing to teach law, protested against new competitor being allowed to enter the field against them with such fearful odds in its favour. In other words, it was felt that the new University, being the official school of law, would swamp the legal teaching of the old Universities, and draw away the future lawyers from the colleges altogether. Lord Selborne, in deference to these objections, has abandoned the title of a legal University, but, as we shall point out immediately, it is very doubtful whether the old difficulties will not crop up again in the school of law. That institution, as sketched by its parent, will consist of a President and Senate, who are to be the governing body, a certain number of professors or lecturers, and the students or undergraduates. The Council will be a representative body of thirty, nominated in equal proportions by the Crown, the bar, and the solicitors. The professors will be numerous, and the governing body, of course, will be responsible for their efficiency. Any person may be a student, no matter whether he belongs to an Inn of Court or not. Lord Selborne enlarged on the advantage of bringing both branches of the profession into more immediate contact, and pointed with triumph to the example of Edinburgh, where intending advocates and writers attend the same classes and pass the same examinations. Nobody would pretend that either branch of the profession suffers by the connection, and the aristocracy of solicitors in Edinburgh, the writers to the signet, would resent any comparison with even the most select class of attorneys among ourselves. In Edinburgh, however, it is to be observed that the common legal education of both branches of the profession is carried on by the University, while the testing of the candidates is done by
the separate Societies for themselves. The bar and the solicitors make attendance at the University a sine quâ non on candidates, but they satisfy themselves of their qualifications without any help from the Universities. If we understand Lord Selborne's scheme, the school of law will do much more than this. It will teach all who choose to come, and it will examine all who wish to enter the profession. Attendance on lectures will, of course, be voluntarily, but examination, as we understand the scheme, will be compulsory. Nothing would appear to be left for the Inns of Court to do but to establish a receipt of custom, look after the terminal dinners, and take wine with the new-fledged barristers after hall. A certain standard will be fixed for barristers, and another for solicitors, but in both cases the School of Law will settle the matter, and only after the School has been satisfied will the candidates be handed over to the different Societies. There is nothing, so far as we can make out, to prevent an intending solicitor passing the bar examination, or a mere layman passing either or both. Some element of differentiation is attempted by giving the representatives of the bar predominant control over the examinations for barristers, and the representatives of the solicitors will also have special authority over their own candidates. Otherwise the training and the attainments of barristers, solicitors, and educated laymen, will be pretty much the same.
We are not of those who think that any harm will come from sending the students of the Incorporated Law Society and the gentlemen of the Inns of Court into the same classrooms, although we are inclined to believe that Lord Selborne makes too much of the prospective advantages of the arrangement. The mere accumulation of members in the legal class-rooms is a very questionable benefit, and it is very doubtful whether the best men under any system will be induced to attend the lectures. So long as university honours are estimated as highly as they now are, so long will the universities interfere with the success of the London Law School. It is not indeed desirable that the competition between them should be equal.
But there are much more serious objections to Lord Selborne's scheme in its present form. We have Lord Selborne's word for it that he contemplates no such change in the relations between the bar' and the solicitors as was at first apprehended. He does not mean to allow lawyers to practice in either capacity indiscriminately. From Lord Selborne's first proposals, that of a legal university giving qualifying degrees to all comers, the amalgamation of the two branches of the profession would sooner or later have followed. The only distinction between the two sets of practitioners would have been that of local centres; their training, their knowledge, their qualifications would have been the same and tested by the same standard. It would have been asked very soon why we should interpose any obstacles to a solicitor practising as a barrister, or to a barrister practising as a solicitor, seeing that both come down from the same hands and with the same credentials. The next question would have been, why do we prevent persons, certified by the State school as properly qualified, from practising as agents or advocates merely because they have not joined certain ancient and voluntary Societies ?
It is another question whether Free Trade in advocacy and agency is a good thing or not, and those who dwell upon the objection just stated of course believe that it would be a bad thing. But whether good or bad, we believe it would be the logical result of Lord Selborne's original idea, and it may be expected more or less from the present proposal according as the school approaches more or less to the type of an examining university granting professional degrees. Great as the anomaly now is of four voluntary Societies guarding the approach to the greatest profession in the kingdom, rejecting and admitting according to rules and standards set up by themselves, it would be still greater if their rules and standards were destroyed, and their functions reduced to levying exorbitant fees on all who wished to pass their gates. When they neither educate nor test education, what pretence will there be for continuing the monopoly of the
Inns of Court. Again it may be said that their extinction would not be a thing to be deplored, but that is another question. At present it is held on all sides not to be desirable; and it is a fair argument on the part of the Inns that the legal university would certainly, and the law school may probably, put an end to their existence.
Lord Selborne's plan of giving the bar and solicitors representatives on the School Senate, and then handing over to each section of the Senate the control of the examinations connected with the branch of the profession it represents, does not meet the difficulty, and is besides a bad plan in itself. To be effectual it would split up the Senate into two or three, and even then it would leave intact all the objections that have been urged against the legal university. We have not been quite able to realize the exact meaning of Lord Selborne's very general expression that “regulations as to the qualification of barristers should be made by the preponderating vote of barristers” in the Senate. Why not create a Council of Barristers at once to make such regulations, and how far will the making of regulations extend ? If the right of granting admission to the bar is to be handed over to the school of law, we should prefer to have the responsibility of an undivided Senate. What would be thought of a Board of Studies at Oxford which told itself off into sections like the Senate of Lord Selborne's School of Law ?
One strong complaint against the Inns of Court in former days was that they were at once a teaching and an examining body, in so far as they affected either character at all. Precisely the same objection may, and probably will, be urged in the House of Commons against Lord Selborne's School of Law. It has long been felt that even in the older Universities the combination of the two capacities has not been productive of good, and although any change in that respect is a long way off there is a very good reason for not creating a new institution with the same disqualifications. The
school ought to be an
Examining University, like the University of London, for degrees in Law only, or a Board like the Civil Service Commission, empowered to test the qualification of all persons seeking to acquire the status and privilege of barrister or solicitor, and leave the teaching to be done by the Inns of Court and the Law Societies under such new management as Lord Selborne indicates. Or, on the other hand, it might be a teaching school, taking up the work from the Inns and Societies, and leaving them to test the attainments of students thus prepared by examinations of their own, under rules laid down or sanctioned by Parliamentary authority. But a Legal University teaching as well as testing, granting degrees to all comers, and superseding every educational function of the existing associations, is an institution open on every side to fatal objections. Lord Selborne must take his choice between making his School of Law a body for testing the work done by the Inns and other Societies, or for supplying work to be tested by them.
Lord Cairns would, it appears, make the legal university merely an examining authority. He holds that the public has a right to require, and Parliament is justified in creating, a body "whose duty it should be to secure that no person was admitted to the bar or allowed to enter upon the practice of the other branch of the profession without having passed examinations with a view to test his fitness for entering that branch of the profession in which he desired to practice.” His reason for saying that the functions of that body ought not to extend further than examining was this—he believed that any attempt to procure funds for a teaching school would fail, and next he believed that if they set up a new teaching legal school, they must of necessity exhaust and destroy the Inns of Court and their capacity for teaching. These words show a vast difference of opinion between the two learned lords on the fundamental lines of the new institutions. Lord Cairns would appear to hold that the public have not a right to demand an authoritative school of law, and would appear to contemplate the continuance of the