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to the minimum, for the science of the law, if worth anything, is only as an accurate science in the hands of accurate and reliable lawyers.
To the end of raising the standard of the profession, the Association one year ago adopted the report of the Committee on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar, which recommended among other things the introduction into the General Assembly of this State a bill, a copy of which follows, to-wit:
“SECTION I.-Be it enacted, That from and after the passage of this Act, section 4406 of the Code be, and is, hereby repealed.
“Sec. II.—Be it further enacted, That section 3 of the Act approved December 18, 1897, relating to and providing for admissions to the Bar be, and the same is, hereby repealed, and that in lieu thereof the following be, and is, hereby enacted: “That save as hereinafter provided, no person shall hereafter be admitted to plead and practice law in the courts of this State, except under the examination now provided by law; provided, however, that the judges of the several superior courts of this State shall be, and they are, hereby authorized, in their discretion, to admit to the Bar without further examination as to educational qualifications persons holding diplomas from the several law schools of this State which require graduates therefrom to take a course of study covering a period of not less than two academic years, under a curriculum to be approved by the State Board of Legal Examiners; provided further, that the court shall in no case dispense with the inquiry into the moral character of the person applying for admission to the Bar; provided further, that no attorney licensed by the laws of another State shall be licensed as a regular practitioner in the courts of this State until he shall have taken the regular examination prescribed by law for applicants seeking admission to the Bar in this State; but nothing herein contained shall be construed
as prohibiting the judges of the several courts of this State from permitting attorneys from other States to appear in causes pending in the courts of this State in which they may be employed, and in which they may desire specially to appear.'
"SEC. III.—Be it further enacted, That all laws and parts of laws in conflict with this Act be, and the same are, hereby repealed.”
This bill had been introduced into and passed the Senate before the present one came into being, but was, owing to the pressure of other public business, lost in the House. Judge Atkinson, who was chairman of the Committee on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar one year ago, informs the committee that he understood the action of the last session of this Association relieved him of further duty in respect of the above proposed legislation. Hence the bill was not introduced into the present General Assembly at its last session. The present Chairman of this Committee, however, furnished Hon. W. S. Howell, a member of the House from Meriwether county, as well as a member of this Association, with two bills, with the request that he introduce and urge to successful passage the said bills. What the fate of them will be remains to be seen. It is earnestly hoped that the Legislature in its wisdom, at its present session, will enact them into law. Surely the law schools will not object, for a diploma, whether from a one or two-year course, should and doubtless would mean that the applicant is fully qualified to stand the examinations prepared by the Board of Legal Examiners, but if it be insisted that they can not or may not do this, the reply is, that they ought not to be admitted, with or without diploma, unless they can pass successfully the Examining Board. The time has passed in Georgia when an unprepared candidate can be admitted to plead and practice law in the courts of this State.
Reference has been made to the fact that two bills were prepared and introduced instead of one as formerly. A word of explanation may be necessary. The Chairman thought that the bill as originally introduced might possibly be open to the criticism that it was unconstitutional, inasmuch as it sought to repeal a section of the Code by mere reference to the number of the section, and to repeal section 3 of the Act of 1897, and to substitute a new law for the whole, all in one bill. Only the first obje:tion will be noticed here, which is deemed sufficient to control the matter. The Constitution of the State as contained in section 5779 of the Code of 1895 declares that: "No law, or section of the Code, shall be amended or repealed by mere reference to its title, or to the number of the section of the Code, but the amending or repealing Act shall distinctly describe the law to be amended or repealed, as well as the alteration to be made." Hence out of an abundance of caution it was thought best to introduce two bills; one describing and repealing section 5779 of the Code, and the other describing and repealing section 3 of the Act of December 18, 1897, and the bill heretofore read in your hearing substituted in lieu thereof.
SUGGESTIONS. Some time in May the Chairman addressed a letter to each member of the committee asking for suggestions. He called attention to the action of the Association for several years past, and expressed his approval, in the main, as to its decision of one year ago. Responses came from each member of the committee, and are deemed of sufficient importance to be reproduced here in their own words:
Hon. T. J. Chappell approves "every detail heretofore formulated by the committee, of which I was a member, and proposed by the Association to the Georgia Legislature.”
Judge Barrow says: "Rule No. 6 (State Board of Legal Examiners), it seems to me, could be made to conform nearer in fact to the theoretical method so far as secrecy is concerned. It requires the affidavit, which is made by the applicant, to be sent to the Board of Examiners. Of course, this gives away to the Board the very thing, of all others, that they are supposed to be kept in ignorance of, namely, who it is whose application they are passing upon. It is strange that while throughout the whole scheme extraordinary precautions appear to be taken to keep the Board of Examiners in ignorance of the name of the person whose application they are passing upon, yet right at the last minute the information, which is supposed to be withheld, is spread right before the eyes of the Board, and stranger still to say, the last paragraph in rule 5 denies to the Board of Examiners the right to consider any examination paper unless the affidavit of the applicant accompanies it. I asked Mr. Dessau about this and called his attention to the fact that it appeared to me to be a glaring inconsistency. His answer was that they took particular pains never to look at the affidavit until they had decided the case. I don't think that is a good answer to the objection. If it is desirable that they should be kept in ignorance of the identity of the applicant, upon whom they are called upon to pass, then the means of ascertaining that identity ought not to be at their hand. Following out the idea, everywhere prominent, that they must be kept in ignorance of the identity of the applicant, it is easy to arrange it so that it would be impossible for them to know. All that would be necessary would be to require the judge to certify that each applicant had made the oath before him, and not require the judge to forward the affidavit of the applicant to the Chairman of the Board of Examiners. It would be simply impossible then for either the judge, before whom the answers were written, or any member of the Board, to know who the person was who signed
with any particular number. I am one of those who believe that absolute privacy in this respect is very desirable. I think we have an excellent Board of Examiners. The only thing to do is to make the machinery as perfect as we can, and let it conform as nearly as possible to the ideal. In conclusion, I only say what I know you feel and would say whenever the occasion presented itself, that no step ought to be taken which will make it easier for a man to obtain a license to practice law.”
Judge Sweat suggests that: “Graduates from the law schools in our State should only be admitted upon taking the two years course as prescribed by the faculty with the indorsement of the State Board of Examiners, and receiving a diploma, or upon standing a satisfactory examination before the Board at any time, the same as other applicants; and that in the case of attorneys from other States who have become residents of this State, that they shall only be admitted to plead and practice law in this State upon complying with our State law requiring satisfactory evidence of good character and standing a satisfactory examination before our State Board of Examiners. My reason for the latter suggestion grows out of the fact that I have known of instances in recent years where parties with little or no character, who, upon very imperfect preparation, have been admitted to the Bar in other States and thereupon have removed to Georgia and engaged in the practice here, when really they were improper parties and not sufficiently prepareil to engage in the practice.”
Judge Van Epps writes, that, “I subscribe without hesitation to the policy of our Association and of the profession elsewhere; to set up more rigid standards and a more thorough training for becoming a lawyer. I note that longer courses of study, a wider curriculum, and very much more rigid exactions are being now required by the doctors and the dentists, and by the law schools which are fullest in touch with the spirit of the age.