« ZurückWeiter »
HENRY A. DUBBS
The past year of the Association has been of some activity. The increase of membership has been a notable one, and it is worthy of observation that this increase has come largely from the younger members of the Bar.
The Special Committee on Promulgation of Rules by the Supreme Court has, from time to time, offered its services to the court in that regard. After mature consideration, the court has recently taken action in promulgating rules under the Act of 1913, the passage of which was urged by this Association. Through the courtesy of the court officers in expediting the work of publication, we expect to have the new rules ready for distribution at our present meeting.
The work of the Association in selecting a candidate for the supreme bench is now in full swing. Aided by the Secretary of the Association, the committee is working with the utmost diligence and fidelity. In this connection, I feel justified in extending the thanks of the Association, and I desire to extend my own personal thanks, to Mr. Lawrence Lewis, who accepted the position of secretary of the committee. His labors in the matter are, and have been, great and of great value, and are being carried on with industry and with marked ability. The plan of the Association and the extent of the work involved in the plan require
such a sacrifice of time on the part of the secretary of the committee, that they naturally contemplated that there should be some compensation other than that which comes from the sense of participation in a laudable cause, and I so advised Mr. Lewis. He has written me, however, that he undertook the work as a matter of duty; that he believes the Association is performing a public service in conducting this primary, and that he does not desire and would not accept any pecuniary compensation for his services. His attitude is in itself, a demonstration of the unselfish manner in which the work of the committee and the plan of the Association are going forward.
As to these special committees, and as to the work of the various general committees, the labors of the year will appear more fully from the reports of the committees themselves. It is for the Association, and not for the President, to consider them in detail. I desire, however, to thank the members of the various committees for what they have done in carrying on the work.
The by-laws of the Association provide that at the annual meeting the President shall deliver an address with particular reference to any important changes in the statutory law of the State. The past year, however, has seen no legislative session except the special one to finance the efforts of the State to maintain its peace through an industrial crisis. It is, therefore, impossible to comply with this injunction at the present meeting, and I have taken for my theme: "The Lawyer and the Law."
THE LAWYER AND THE LAW.
It is said that William Blackstone sat in his office for years, hopeful and expectant, but clientless; and yet the stress of time made him neither resentful, cynical nor socialistic. Upon the contrary, his mind was busy with the thought that, after all, the progress of civilization depends upon the protection of society, that no man can be the court of last resort as to his own conduct in its relation to his fellowmen, and that unless the individual
can count with safety upon the right to act in a definite way, and upon the support of some constituted authority in the exercise of that right, there is no method and there is no assured result. And then he wrote:
"Law, in its most general and comprehensive sense,
more confined sense,
denote the rules, not
of action in general, but of human action or conduct."
And, in speaking of the concrete subject of municipal or civil law, he added that it is properly defined to be:
"A rule of civil conduct prescribed by the supreme power in a State, commanding what is right and prohibiting what is wrong.'
Whether, in its origin, the law, as the analytical jurists, like Bentham and Austin, contended, bears with it more of the idea of force than of order, or whether the latter element is historically or etymologically entitled to precedence, is of little substance. The sum of the matter is that, whether custom, or the formal declaration of the popular will, or some absolute ruler, be the "superior", the law remains a rule of action. Only by some rule can the individual determine in what he will be protected in his social relations; and only by some rule can there be true progress.
In such progress, we, as lawyers, are necessary; but not for the mere purpose of fostering our personal aims, or of having society afford us a means of existence. Neither historically, ner in every-day fact, have we, as a profession, any reason for recog
nition save as aids in the administration of the law, and of that justice of which the law is the foundation stone. Whether our service lie in assisting the court, or in the work of directing the individual in his affairs of person or of property, in the first premise and in the last conclusion we are "aids"; and when we cease so to be, our justification likewise ceases.
These things are truisms, and yet in the pressure of life it is important that truisms should, from time to time, be recalled, for they are sometimes the things that slip away most readily.
Occasionally, to some of us, the law is merely a thing that affords a livelihood, and lawyers a class of people authorized to gain their living from the law itself. Unconsciously, at times, we drift from the only idea that permits our professional existence; and, having drifted, we consciously employ the arts devised for the success of a common business struggle. Is it, therefore, amiss, that, like mariners, we should now and then take our reckoning, to assure ourselves that our course still holds with the chart?
In the formative days of the government of this country, the profession was allied with the political development of the nation. The men of those times whom we now know as great lawyers are thus known to us largely for their work in shaping the constitution as a living thing. Today, the profession is so closely associated with the business growth of the country, that, in great measure, the lawyer is himself a business adjunct. And this has its virtue, for the settlement of political questions leads but to the establishment of stable conditions for the business of the world, and it is the business of the world of which every man is a part. Here the sound lawyer is, and should be, a peacemaker. His duty does not admit of the theory that there is no person in all the world, other than his client. To him, his client is his immediate care, but he can bear this in mind without ignoring his primary duty to see that justice be done. The true lawyer goes to litigation when he must, and he does not avoid it through