General School of Law | The Solicitors' Journal - July 15, 1871
After much preparation and preluding, the first vote of the Legal Education Reformers has at length been held.
Sir Roundell Palmer, as the representative of the Legal Education Association, moved on Tuesday his resolutions in favour of the establishment of a General School of Law (the term "Legal University" would seem to have been abandoned as self-contradictory), in the government of which the branches of the legal profession may be suitably represented, and after the establishment of which no person shall be admitted to practice in any branch without having passed the School Examinations: Sir Roundell Palmer also moved an address to the Queen praying for a Charter of Incorporation for the School to be established; Mr. Osborne Morgan seconded the motion; and it being then very late at night, Mr. Jessel moved the adjournment of the debate.
Thus the first shot has been fired. The Universities have identified themselves with the scheme. On behalf of the solicitors branch of the profession, the Incorporated Law Society and the Metropolitan and Provincial have expressed a general adhesion. Two out of the four Inns of Court - viz., Gray's-inn and the Middle Temple, have also announced their general approval of the plan of one Grand Law School and compulsory examinations for the bar. But the Inner Temple and Lincoln's-inn refused to accept the idea of educating both branches together, and of abandoning their present control of the education of the bar. The Inner Temple and Lincoln's-inn benchers, however, evidently view the present movement as one too formidable to be neglected; and they have essayed to weaken the case of the reformers, so far as they are concerned, by altering their own rules to the requirement of compulsory examinations before calls to the bar.
That the members of every profession should be educated as well as possible in the technical knowledge of their advocation as well as in general attainments, is a position which requires no argument, nor can it be disputed that compulsory bar examinations must do good and can do no harm. The Inns of Court themselves used not in olden times to call any student to the bar until satisfied of his proficiency in law studies, although they afterwards abandoned that requirement.
The question whether the bar and the solicitors should or should not be educated side by side seems to us, as at present advised, to be simply a question of the best ordering and management of the means of instruction; and if the splitting up of the "University" into colleges is likely to prove inconvenient in this respect, that is a reason for the junction. Short of that we see no reason why the Inns of Court, under sufficient coercion and control, might not be left to prepare their own students for the compulsory examinations of the Great Law School of which they would be members.