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SCHOOLS OF LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES.
If any evidence were required of the liberalising tendencies and influence of the Law Society it would be furnished by the statement of its activities in the sphere of legal education contained in the three contributions to our Symposium on the subject. Here we have the record of independent efforts, extending over a series of years, to supply the omissions of that other officialdom which obstructs the way to the carrying out of any of the larger schemes for the advancement of legal science. And here we have, too, through the agency of the Law Society, the beginnings of an organization for the provision of Schools of Law at all the great centres of learning if the ideal of a National or Imperial Legal University cannot be—or until it is—carried out. We say ‘ until it is because notwithstanding Sir Albert Rollit's momentary pessimism, begotten of much disappointment in repeated attempts to secure unification of efforts, we believe that the ideas of Selborne, and Jessel, and Russell, and Finlay for a great Metropolitan School of Law, with its branches in the provinces, are still capable of fulfilment. Sir Albert Rollit thinks that the main lines of evolution have now been made fairly clear and that they are set ‘in the direction of the association of all our London legal schools with the University;' but he under-estimates, if he does not altogether ignore, the powers for good—or for evil—of the Inns of Court, the remains of a once great Legal University, for the influence and resources of those ancient seats of learning are not lightly to be left out of account in the settlement of .
the problem. It is significant that the scheme of the Royal Commission for a remodelled University of London makes no provision for the creation of a Legal Faculty, and it may be shrewdly imagined that the framers of this scheme, with Lord Haldane at their head, still had in view the possibility of the creation of an independent university for legal studies. Mr. Budd is among those who believe that the foundation in the metropolis of a National and Imperial School of Law is an urgent necessity, and he says that ‘the time is ripe, and more than ripe, for the establishment’ of such a school. So far as the provinces are concerned, the paper of Mr. Munby shews that the way has been well prepared by the efforts of the Law Society working through the
provincial associations, and woen the large unifying scheme comes—and there is no man more fitted for the task of formulating it than the present Lord Chancellor—the local Boards of Legal Studies are there ready to secure its exten
(Fellow and Senator of the University of London,
In The Law Journal.
I regret I can find but a few moments in which to comply with your complimentary request to me to write you an article for THE LAw Journal about Legal Education in relation to the law school of the society, the University of London, the proposed legal university, and the school of law, advocated by the late Earl of Selborne, and ably supported by Sir Robert Finlay, K.C., then attorney-general, by the Law Society, and others. You are not wrong in assuming that this subject both has been and is one of the greatest interest to me; for, from my student days, I have thought and written upon it, and during my presidency of the Law Society, in 1903, my views took the practical shape of the report and course of legal studies framed by the special committee of the council of the society, of which I was chairman. These formed the foundation of the society's “school of law" which was then established and has since done so much useful and successful work.
It must be remembered, however, that our school was a tentative alternative of the proposed “legal university" (of 1855)—a title which its promoters gave it, but which is somewhat of a misnomer, or rather a contradiction in terms —since it connotes at once a universal, or general, and also a specialised, institution, dealing with only one branch of study—and also of the school of law contemplated by Lord Chancellor Selborne, Sir Robert Finlay, and others, but
which was ultimately rendered impossible by the attitude of one of the Inns of Court, whose opposition the council of the Law Society did its utmost to remove, both by deputation to the Inn and otherwise, but in vain. And, excellent as the substituted school of the Law Society has proved itself to be, as a more or less temporary alternative, there are still some who greatly regret the failure of the wider proposal, and hope it may be resuscitated.
Personally, I am not sure I am now of that number. The tentative–experimental, if you will—interval has been tided over so far even more satisfactorily than could have been hoped. Our law school has done admirable work; it has practically illustrated the abiding interest which the Law Society—long before any other legal organisation—has taken in legal teaching and examination, of both of which it was the pioneer, and it has secured for the society, as I urged at the time as one strong reason for its establishment, a status of great influence in dealing with the general problem of legal education, which is always with us, and upon which, in any future developments, the society will be entitle, by its work, to have its say. And much water has flowed under the bridge even since the not very remote days of Lord Selborne and his successors, and a reference to the evidence of myself and others given before the last Royal Commission on the University of London will shew that the outlook and potentialities of legal education are now much wider and brighter than they have been in the past.
Though many regard some very-much-repeated expressions of the Lord Chancellor, Chairman of the Royal Commission, about university and collegiate “atmospheres” as rather exaggerated and fantastic, not to say savouring of some of the academic cant which is too much in the air, still regard must be had to certain unquestionable advantages of the university aspect of legal studies, and of their being invested with a more general character than is possible at either the Law Society or the Inns of Court, jointly or solely, or even at any merely “Legal University,” such as was formerly proposed.
The problem of legal education in London and elsewhere has, therefore, in my opinion, passed from the narrower domain of a “legal university’ to that of the relationship of all law schools to the universities, and especially, and for obvious reasons, to the Metropolitan University, London being the centre and chief seat of English legal learning and practice.
At present, though isolated efforts have been made in that direction at King's and other colleges of the university, and in the committee of legal members of the university senate, a body of men exceptionally qualified to deal with such matters, it has not been found practicable to solve the problem; but the main lines of its evolution have been made fairly clear and point in the direction of closer connection of all our London legal schools with the university, of which they might well become constituent colleges or schools, and so provide scholastically not only for the qualifying and honours’ examinations of the legal profession, but also for teaching—and for testing both teaching and scholarship by examination, so as to eliminate mere cramming—the higher branches of law for lawyers and also for many classes of the laity who ought to know at least a little law, such as magistrates and others.
The exact lines of co-ordination and co-operation between the university and its colleges and the schools of law is still on the anvil, but it seems most probable that the inadequate, and indeed misleading, idea or type of a “legal university’ will be superseded by the higher and wider one of the connection of legal schools with the universities, while retaining in certain respects their independence and individuality and their professional character, as well as any rights they possess of admission to the practice of the law, and the control of the qualifying examinations therefor.
But, whatever may thus be done towards a more aggregated system of legal studies, with the indirect educational and social advantages of intercourse and inter-communication in the search and research for legal knowledge, there must be no surrender or restriction of the right of the individual student to work out his own salvation in his own way if he thinks proper, and every aid and facility should be given him (shall I add “ or her ”?) for this purpose by both the schools and the university.
The articled clerk stands in an exceptional position. To most members of the solicitors’ branch of the legal profession the system of articles (or apprenticeship) is sacrosanct, and perhaps properly so—though the masters’ part is not always a very valuable contribution to legal education. But articles of clerkship, while they ensure practical knowledge of legal and professional work, demand much time and leave comparatively less for the assimilation of legal principles and for academic or theoretical studies. Moreover, there are what I may call objective and subjective minds. The more objective mind requires, and relies on, external aids, such as teachers and teaching, lectures, and the like; the more subjective mind depends more on itself (a very valuable element in education and not one to be lost)—on books —the repositories of the thoughts, not of one age or mind, but the gifts and legacies of all ages and of multitudes of minds—and regards, save exceptionably, the lecture and the notebook, even if good (and some are both bad and deterrent), as spoon-feeding and relaxing, if not so much waste of time. Personally, after leaving a public school at fifteen, I never had the opportunity of teaching or teachers, but had to teach myself, often with difficulty and many failures, though even mistakes were not wholly without value in mental discipline, since they taught the life-lesson that difficulties are only things to be overcome. The task of the self-teaching legal student may thus be a hard one, but his armoury is a library, his battlefields victories and defeats; his legal maxim that of Hannibal: Aut viam inveniam, aut faciam. Again, according to the expressed opinion of the Law Society, the continued, undiminished, and unrestricted opportunities for law students to obtain the external legal arts, and other degrees of the University of London is a matter of vital moment to the society itself and its work of legal education, to its students who prepare for the examinations for such degrees, and generally. This opinion has been formed and expressed formally and informally in reports, by resolutions, in evidence before the Royal Commission, and otherwise, on many occasions, and there can be no falling back from it, no consent to its abolition, restriction, directly or indirectly, and no alternative but fighting for it in Parliament, and, if necessary, in the constituencies, should anything of the sort be attempted, as is to some extent foreshadowed, and even done, in the report of the Royal Commission, which, at any rate on this point, raises a cardinal issue. Articled clerks have, as a rule, to begin life early; equally as a rule, they are poor not only in means but in time; and they have not the opportunity, generally, of entering a resi. dential, or collegiate, university. And the University of Lon.