The Social Importance of Proper Standards for Admission to the Bar, 3 American Law School Review 325 (1911-1915)
A great French judge truly said that the profession of the law was "as old as the Magistrate, as noble as Virtue, and as necessary as Justice." The importance of having a Bar, the members of which are sufficiently skilled in the principles of law and the procedure of the courts, properly to advise laymen as to their rights, and the method of asserting or defending them, and to represent them in judicial controversies, I need not dwell upon. It has been the habit in many states to regard the practice of the law as a natural right, and one which no one of moral character can be deprived of. Such a view of course ignores the importance of the profession to society and looks at its practice only as a means of earning a living. Laymen can readily be made to see that society should be protected against the malpractice of the medical profession and surgery by men who know nothing of disease or the effect of medicine or the handling of a surgical instrument. It is therefore comparatively free from difficulty to secure laws prescribing proper educational qualifications for those holding themselves out a physicians or surgeons. The danger to society of the misuse of the power which a lawyer's profession enables him to exercise is not so acutely impressed upon the layman until he has had some experience in following bad advice. A legal adviser cannot ordinarily injure his client's bodily health, but he can lead him into great pecuniary loss and subject him and his family to suffering and want. The more thorough the general education of one who proposes to be a lawyer, the more certainly his mind will be disciplined to possess himself of the principles of law and properly to apply them.
Date of Authorship for this Version
Taft, William Howard, "The Social Importance of Proper Standards for Admission to the Bar" (1913). Faculty Scholarship Series. Paper 3951.