Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1913

Abstract

We are living in a period of extraordinary unrest. The spirit of criticism is prevalent, and no belief or creed, no institution is exempt from this questioning spirit of the time. Among social institutions perhaps none is being more relentlessly subjected to attack than the law as administered in our courts and practiced by our lawyers. It is true that much of the criticism leveled at legal institutions is unreasonable and is based upon ignorance or prejudice, but there remains a residuum of complaint which is well founded. In the very nature of things law and its administration always have been and always will be subjected to adverse comment. In every litigation one or more of the suitors must be disappointed, and disappointed suitors with their friends, and sometimes attorneys, make in the aggregate a large host of people who feel aggrieved at the administration of law. Moreover, in every practical system of law uniformity and certainty are necessary elements for the safe conduct of affairs. Putting it in other words, definiteness and persistence in substance and form, are necessary in order that we may all of us know how to govern our conduct. It follows inevitably then that in a changing world there can never be complete adjustment between existing law, no matter how skillfully devised, and the most advanced and scientific opinion as to what would be ideal or perfect law. The present is the most fluid century which the world has ever known, and conditions, social, political, and material, are changing more rapidly than at any time in the history of civilization. Even a slight study of this situation must convince anyone qualified to pass judgment in such matters, that the lack of adjustment between law and the needs of the time must for a brief space be correspondingly marked, and approach, at least in some respects, mal-adjustment. We are passing from a state of society based largely upon individualism, and properly controlled by political and legal individualism, to a period of collectivism. It will require time and the conscious effort of qualified legal scholars, lawyers, judges, and many others, to readjust law to the new conditions. That readjustment is now going on, but it is accompanied by friction, misunderstanding and prejudice.


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