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Professors of the LawBarristers and English Legal Culture in the Eighteenth
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David Lemmings

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198207214

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198207214.001.0001

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Gentlemen Bred to the Law: Induction and Legal Education

Gentlemen Bred to the Law: Induction and Legal Education

(p.107) 4 Gentlemen Bred to the Law: Induction and Legal Education
Professors of the Law

David Lemmings

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers critically the experience of educating barristers, and especially the attempts at educational reform undertaken in the middle of the eighteenth century. It describes the course followed by men who became practicing barristers. Formal and prescriptive education for the bar virtually ceased at the end of the seventeenth century, and individuals were largely left to their own devices. There was also considerable criticism of the results, which took both practical and cultural forms. Students and barristers complained about the lack of any institutional guidance and the poverty of educational literature, which were blamed for the frequency of drop-outs and the supposed incompetence of some barristers. Both the practical and cultural complaints tended ultimately to justify the common objections against English private law and its professors. The discussion reflects upon the reasons for considering the bar as a career and learning the law amidst institutional failure and professional criticism.

Keywords:   cultural challenge, education, institutional failure, professional criticism, private law

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