« ZurückWeiter »
of five who shall recommend names to this Association for the officers of the Association for the ensuing year. That committee could retire and be considering of its report whilst these other matters are being discussed.
Motion seconded and carried.
The chair will appoint that committee while we are hearing the next report. The next order of business is the report of the Committee on Legal Education.
(For the report see the appendir.)
The Association has complimented the Committee of Law Examiners by inviting them to make some report upon the work of that committee and what has been done in the movement of reform in respect to examinations for admission to the bar. I desire for a moment, and I shall be just as brief as possible, to ask you to consider or call up in your minds the conditions that existed about ten years ago in respect to admission to the bar. As you remember, then the whole matter was in the hands of a committee from each judicial district, three in number, appointed by the Supreme Court, who had the matter of the admission to the bar practically within their control. About that time the matter of admission was purely a perfunctory matter. After a man had spent two years in a law office and was pro. vided with the proper certificate, he appeared before the law examiners and his admission almost went as a matter of course. An attempt was made about eight years ago to change that course of procedure in this district by inaugurating the system of written examinations. The bar was not quite prepared for the change, and though the committee did its work as well as it could under the circumstances and did certainly raise the standard, because before that time there was no standard at all, there was considerable dissatisfaction among certain mem. bers of the bar; so much so that the then committee felt that it ought in some way to make some report. It went to the Supreme Court, reported what we had done, presented a copy of the questions that had been propounded to the applicants, and the Supreme Court believed that the standard which was insisted upon at that first written examination was not only not too high, but that it was sufficiently low so that the Supreme Court in its opinion said that if an applicant could not pass that examination he ought not to be admitted to the bar, and certainly would not be a safe person to be entrusted with litigation. The committee thus encouraged persisted in its intention, and examination by examination raised the standard for admission to the bar, but only by very gradual gradations. The lawyers of this bar and all over the state having their attention directed to the new system, and giving it sober thought, gradually came to the conclusion that that was the proper method. It was most gratifying that some of the gentlemen who had been somewhat active-I won't say in their objections, but certainly had been strong in their expressions of opinion against the new order of things—came around and frankly said that they thought it was in the right direction. This went on in this district for about four years, and then it was gratifying to notice that in the dis. trict in which Colorado Springs is situated and the district in which Leadville is situated those committees took up the work and practically used the same standard there that existed here. But the most important point about it all was that the members of the bar generally lent their influence to the new order of things in so far as they had progressed. An attempt was made about six years ago to obtain an amendment to the law. It was done by the preparation of a bill which is practically the counterpart of the bill that was passed in New York about two years later. The committee was unable to obtain the passage of that law because it was felt by certain members of the legislature that it was an attempt at a consolidation which would be to the prejudice of some of the outlying districts. That bill did not succeed in passing at that time. The next term of the legislature the conditions were not considered to be propitious, and it was only about three years ago that a bill was prepared, substantially by the Secretary of the Colorado Bar Association with the advice and counsel of other persons interested in the move. ment, and that bill simply repealed all the laws upon the subject and threw the entire matter within the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. Now the Supreme Court has formulated its rules, and I think that we may say that though we have not done anything like what we may reasonably expect to do in a few years, yet there has been an acceptable and substantial advance in respect to this matter, in which every lawyer may feel a certain sense of gratification. There are two features to it: The first one is this, that a preliminary education is insisted upon before a man is deemed qualified to study law at all. The minimum requirement is not very high, but it is a decided advance. It is practically the equivalent of a high school education. Of course, a man may qualify by any superior degree in a general educational way that he may see fit, such as by a degree from a university and college of recognized high standard, or the equivalent. We also recognize that a person who holds a first grade teacher's certificate is qualified, because that is more than the equivalent of the minimum requirement of the rule. I think every man will say, who has given the matter any thought, that a person who is to devote his life to what is called a learned profession certainly should be qualified by having at least a high school education, and that is perhaps the main and the best feature of the rule. That is strictly insisted upon. When a person has not had the benefit of a high school education the rules provide that he may prepare himself and take an examination that is conducted by the superintendent of public instruction of this state. And I may say here that the grati. tude of the bar is due to the present incumbent of the office of the superintendent of public instruction in the efficient and almost enthusiastic way in which she has taken up this work. Indeed it would be proper under the circumstances that this Association take some action in commendation of her work, because the committee is very sure that without her active coöperation it would never have been able to put its rules in force.
Now, in reference to the standard of admission to the bar: I will not dwell upon that at all, but the cominittee feels that it has reached about the standard that obtains in the state of New York. In New York they have a higher preliminary educational standard than we have here, but we have endeavored to raise the standard for examinations for admission to the bar, that is the law examination, to that height. I think we have done so successfully, and it is a matter of extreme gratification to the committee and certainly ought to be so to every member of the bar. Applicants now usually successfully pass that examination, with a very small percentage of failures.
At the first written examination held here, out of about twenty-three applicants there were only seven or eight who passed, and if you will compare, as I have done, the questions of that time with the ones that have been propounded at the last examination held here two or three days ago, you will find that the standard then was very much lower than the standard which obtains at present, and yet out of twenty-three or twenty. five there were only seven who passed. Since that time we have been raising the standard, as I say, gradually, and I have here the figures. The deduction from the figures is not accurate because the standard has been greatly raised. · At the first exam. ination held by this board out of sixteen applicants there were five only who failed; at the second examination (a special examination of only two applicants) they both failed, but at the next examination they passed the test very creditably. At the third examination, out of thirty-nine applicants there were seven who failed. Out of twenty-four at the next examination only two failed. At the examination just preceding the one recently held, out of twenty, six failed. But you will see that, taking into consideration the fact that the standard has been constantly on the rise, the quality of the applicants in respect to their preparation is unmistakably improved, and really it is a matter of gratıfication to the committee to read some of those papers and observe how well those gentlemen are prepared.
There is but one thing remaining that I would like to say in reference to the intention of the Association. It has been the experience of the American bar generally that many men who have started in without any previous education, by their strenuous efforts, constant industry and general study have attained eminence at the bar, and that there should be something in the rules that would put that sort of practice and that kind of effort in the place of the scholastic attainment which I have just mentioned. The judges of the Supreme Court, at the time the rules were promulgated, put a very low equivalent, for they said that any man who had been admitted to the highest court of another state and who had practiced two years, might come here and be admitted without examination. Under that rule I think that within the past year one hundred and twenty-five men from other states have been admitted, and I will venture to say that probably not one-half of those men could pass our examination, and the period of practice should be longer. It has been suggested that a person coming from another state and wishing to be admitted without examination, should be required to prove at least five years' practice. That is the rule that obtains in New York. It is the one that obtains now in Ohio, and it certainly should be in force in Colorado, because you will all agree with me that if practice be the only thing which is to be accepted as the full equivalent of the other requirements of the rules, we should have something in the way of practice that would insure competency. We all know that during the first two years of their practice lawyers get very little experience; indeed, we think that five years' practice is not an unreasonable requirement. The Supreme Court has informally said that such a change in the rules was satisfactory to the court.
I would like to say one thing more--it is due to my associates who are absent. These gentlemen, acting without compensation, have taken up the work with enthusiasm, and it is due to their efficient efforts that the present standard of admission to the bar has been obtained.
Lucius W. Hoyt:
One other thing should be called to the attention of the Association, and that is that the American Bar Association, at a meeting two or three years ago, recommended that a three years' term of study at least be required in all the states. Our Association took up this matter and its Committee on Legal Education requested the Supreme Court to raise the time of study in this state from two to three years, and the Supreme Court have expressed their willingness to do that. That was not mentioned by Mr. Charpiot.
Henry C. Charpiot:
I would like to mention one thing, and that is that the work of the committee has been greatly aided by the coöperation of the management of the law schools, and whenever it has been possible to do so the law schools have always met the suggestions of the committee in raising the standard. Now, we have considered for some time past the advisability of insisting upon three years study, and anticipating the probable change in the rules, both the law schools, i. e., the State University and the Denver University, ave increased their cose from two to three years. The work done at these schools ...s been of a high order, as judged by the records of the board. The record shows, in the first place, an average superiority on the part of the law school men over men trained in offices. It is a fact that out of the whole number of men who have come up for examination from the law schools the percentage—that is, the standard attained by the gentlemen who have been trained in our local law schools -has been higher than that of gentlemen who come from abroad. I don't mean to say that it is necessarily an implication that the local law schools are superior, because perhaps the gentlemen who study here knew better what the board required and perhaps the courses of the local law schools are in certain respects