What to expect when you meet a wannabe lawyer – some Medieval advice

Freshers be cautious

As many head off to college for the primary time, college students could have the chance to mingle with others from all diploma disciplines with a number of completely different profession aspirations. However what ought to you expect if you stumble upon a regulation scholar or somebody who proudly proclaims “I want to be a lawyer”?

All through historical past, the self-discipline has earnt itself a much less-than-stellar status. Utilizing James A. Brundage’s paper Vultures, Whores, and Hypocrites: Images of Lawyers in Medieval Literature, I discover some medieval perceptions of attorneys and query whether or not they stay true at present.

Harmful tongues

St. Bernard of Clairvaux, who was apprehensive by attorneys competing for cash and energy within the church, exclaimed in 1148: “These men have taught their tongues to speak lies. They are fluent against justice. They are schooled in falsehood.” His answer was “cut out their lying tongues and shut their deceitful mouths”.

It was widespread for clergymen round this time to espouse such authorized stereotypes, with imagery specializing in the lawyer’s tongue. Certainly, the French theologian Jacques de Vitry tells us that it was widespread for the tongues of corrupt attorneys to fall off when they died.

Alcoholic dwelling-wreckers

Do you need a lawyer close to your relationship? Completely not warns the Story of the Satan’s Marriage:

“Advocates do a lot of harm
Whereby they put their souls at risk;
Their tongues are full of venom:
Whereby inheritances are lost,
They have poisoned many a good marriage,
And done evil just for a jar of wine.”

However, as Authorized Cheek has explored, there are execs and cons of blending attorneys and love!

The ‘legal hustle’

On this interval, the ‘legal hustle’ was thought of morally repugnant. Legal professionals (typically coupled with medical doctors) had been typically characterised by their pursuit of earnings over any concern for the general public good. Dante wrote that “lawyers and physicians […] study not in order to acquire knowledge but rather to secure money and high position”.

Profitable attorneys had been steadily demonised in well-liked tradition. In his well-known poem Piers Plowman, William Langland quipped “it would be easier to blow the mist off Malvern Hills than to get a word out lawyer until he’s seen his fee”. Philippe de Mézières claimed that attorneys grew fats by defending depraved males, supplied that they had been wealthy in addition to depraved.

There was actual debate — as there nonetheless is at present — about attorneys’ capability for price-incomes and the way it may deny the poorest entry to justice. The twelfth-century theologian and authorized reform activist Peter the Chanter, bemoaning the shortage of advocates who would work with out reward, advocated for a return to the traditional Roman custom that attorneys ought to characterize shoppers freed from cost, particularly those that held paid positions within the church.

The seven sins for attorneys — how responsible are you?

And what if you simply need to assist your authorized mates turn into… nicely… much less like attorneys? In medieval occasions, there have been so many sins associated to the stigmatised authorized occupation that some really invented a guidelines that might be used to assist attorneys study their consciences. There have been a number of round, however right here is Cardinal Hostiensis’s seven-sin listing:

1. Had they sought or secured their levels with out satisfactory information or preparation?
2. Had they been conceited towards different, lesser, jurists or lecturers?
3. Had they scorned easy folks, particularly for his or her verbal ineptitude?
4. Have been they responsible of exhibiting off by making refined however ineffective factors?
5. Had they taught untruths of their lectures?
6. Had they stored silent in regards to the belief, lest it disgrace them?
7. Had they given false, nugatory, or unfounded advice?

There’s nonetheless time!

We must always caveat these characterisations with the perception supplied by the influential 14th-century Dominican friar John Bromyard. He drew a clear distinction between attorneys and regulation college students, arguing that “when they were young, even during their early years in law school, they might be winning, gracious, pleasant members of society. But when they grew older and especially when they went into practice, they turned vicious and became as cruel as lions, infernal demons whose own mothers would curse their very existence”.

In brief, there’s nonetheless time for wannabe regulation college students, who haven’t but launched into their research. Certainly, as I embark on my authorized research for the primary time, let’s hope that Bromyard isn’t proper!

Will Holmes is a future trainee solicitor at a magic circle regulation agency.



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