Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1914

Abstract

That the practice of law and the administration of justice are under a fire of popular distrust and criticism of extraordinary intensity requires no proof. A fact of which there is evidence in numerous contemporary books, in almost every magazine, in the daily papers, in the remarks, or the questions, or it may be in the sneers, of one's friends, requires no further demonstration. The only questions of importance to be answered are to what extent this criticism and this distrust are well founded, what are the remedies for such defects as exist, and how and by whom should they be applied? Shall lawyers allow their just indignation at such of these criticisms as grow out of ignorance and prejudice to blind them to those that are true, or to steel them into an attitude of indifference to, or of assumed contempt for, this entire popular out-cry? This would indeed be a course of folly, not to say of professional suicide, one which would inevitably result in the laying of alien and unskilled hands upon the temple of justice, in crude and ignorant efforts to repair the breaches in the temple walls and to remodel them to meet the new necessities of changed times and conditions. That this is no fancied danger we have had already convincing evidence. Our delay as a profession in correcting defects' in our legal institutions, and in adjusting them to the needs of contemporary society, has afforded the opportunity, if indeed it has not actually invited from outsiders, countless suggestions of alleged reforms and some well organized and powerful efforts to accomplish them. These have ranged from the foolish and sometimes dangerous nostrums of ignorant quacks and demagogues to the well-meant proposals of serious minded and patriotic men. While some of these plans are utterly impracticable, or ineffectual or positively harmful, others contain suggestions of merit, which deserve the serious and respectful attention of the Bar.

Comments

Revised version of "Popular Discontent with Law and Some Proposed Remedies." In Proceedings of the Twenty-Third Annual Meeting of the Michigan State Bar Association, 99-113. Lansing, Mich.: Wynkioop Hallenbeck Crawford Co., 1913.


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