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Counsellor at Law

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COUNSELLOR AT LAW. In the United States a counsellor at law is a lawyer author ized to follow his profession and practice in the superior courts of record. The special function of a counsellor at law is to give advice as to the legal aspect of judicial proceedings, to try causes, argue motions or appeals, or conduct any other legal business that takes him into the presence of the courts. A distinction is made between counsellors and attorneys-at law ; this, however, was never strictly observed in this country, and now the two designations are used interchangeably, or in combination, in all the States but one — the title of a practising lawyer in this country being ordinarily, °Attor ney and Counsellor at Law." In England, not only has the distinction in titles been preserved, but a variety of designations has been applied to members of the legal profession, according to the courts in which they practised and of which they were officers, or according to their special functions. Practitioners in the common law courts at Westminster, and also country lawyers enrolled in the Courts Leet and other inferior tribunals in the shires and boroughs, were called attorneys; practitioners in the Court of Chancery were known as solicitors, while those practising in the Admiralty and Ecclesiastical Courts and other tribunals where the civil and canon law was administered were called proctors. The titles solicitor and proctor are sometimes used by lawyers in the United States when they appear in equity suits or proceedings in the Admiralty and Probate Courts, but this is a matter of fancy and has no specific legal or customary sanction. These distinctive appellatives have been obliterated to some extent in England. According to the Judicature Act of 1873, whereby the King's Bench, Common Pleas, Exchequer, Chancery, Admiralty and Probate and Divorce Courts were consolidated, practitioners theretofore designated solicitors in chancery or proctors were to be called solicitors of the Supreme Court. Only a barrister, however, may prac tise as counsel in the trial and advocacy of causes in the superior courts. The initiation of law suits, the drawing of ordinary pleadings, the preparation of evidence and briefs, and attendance to all preliminaries up to the actual trial or argument in open court, are functions of attorneys or solicitors. A person qualified to become a barrister may waive a call to the bar and be licensed to practise, tunder the bar,* as a conveyancer or special pleader. The sim plification of pleadings by the modern practice acts has effected a decline in the demand for specialists, however, and this work now gen erally falls to junior barristers. The highest rank among barristers is that of king's (or queen's) counsel. When engaged with other barristers in a case these counsel lead the trial, and they give opinions on questions of law submitted to them; in which respect their office is somewhat like that of the jurisconsults of Rome and of Continental Europe. Sergeants at-law rank after king's or queen's counsel and, while the order of sergeants still exists, no new appointments are being made, so that this title will, and is probably intended to, be come extinct. In the Admiralty and Ecclesias tkal Courts among the civilians and canonists,° as Blackstone rather contemptuously calls them — the title corresponding to that of barrister at-law is advocate. Counsellors, barristers, ad vocates, attorneys, solicitors and proctors, all alike, are officers of the courts in which they are enrolled and subject to the discipline of these tribunals. While they are not officers ad ministering a public trust, strictly speaking, but rather officers exercising a privilege or franchise, they are, nevertheless; regarded as officers of the state with obligations to the pub lic no less significant than their obligations to their clients.

Education for the bar has been regarded in all times and under all juristical systems as a severely practical matter. Cicero's definition of a jurisconsult—as a person °skilled in the laws and in the usages current among private citizens, and in giving opinions, bringing ac tions and taking still holds good. Nor is the manner in which such skill was acquired in ancient Rome without its modern parallel. Every jurisconsult had in his train a number of pupils, who followed their master to the courts, listened while he was advising his clients or delivering opinions, and obtained their knowledge of legal procedure by practice, and of the usages current among merchants and other private citizens by actual contact with men and affairs. We may be sure a great deal of °sea law" was picked up by the budding jurisconsults of Rome from the Rhodian and other mariners who beached their ships on the strand at.Ostia.• In later days, when,Ulpian and the other learned jurists, whom the Emperor Justinian commissioned to codify the jos civilis, had evolved a science of jurisprudence, they compiled the became famous as a seat of the higher education in juristic lore. The interest there aroused spread all over Europe. The emancipation of the human mind and, also, the development of the modern state were due in no small measure to this influence One effect, however, was the arrest of the de velopment of the body of customary Teutonic law into an independent system. In Germany the 'his twins became supreme and the doctors and practitioners of law there knew little but what they had learned from the Pandects. In England the propagation of the Roman law, civil' and canonical, was strenuously resisted and successfully combated by the judges and practitioners in the king's courts. The Inns of Court, not the universities, became the schools for the education of lawyers in the common law, as they still are. These inns— they are really colleges—maintained by the four ancient law societies, are known as thi Inner and Middle Temple, Lincoln's Inn and Grays Inn. To each of these there are attached one or more Chancery Inns, which have the character of. preparatory schools. To be ad mitted to practise as a barrister one must be a member of one of the law societies, and have followed a prescribed course of study at one of the Inns of Court. The method of instruc tion was by moots or disputations, and lectures or readings by barristers. The call to the bar proceeds not from the courts but the superior order of benchers, who are the custodians of the property of the societies and directors of their affairs, and who control the discipline of the profession. The inns, however, are sub ject to the visitorial powers of the judges of the superior courts. At the present time the chancery inns are used merely as chambers by barristers, to which the latter, unless they be king's or queen's counsel, are expected to admit pupils. A university training in the liberal arts or sciences is a prerequisite to entrance as a pupil into a barrister's chambers or as a student to the Inns of Court. Until its dispersal in 1858 the College of Advocates in Doctors' Commons stood in somewhat simi lar relation to advocates in the admiralty and ecclesiastical courts of England that the Inns of Courts did to barristers. Advocates, however, were graduates of the universities, where they were instructed in civil and canon law.

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