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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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Advancement and Independence

Advancement and Independence

(p.248) 7 Advancement and Independence
Professors of the Law

David Lemmings

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses advancement and independence, looking at internal promotion though ranks and status at the inns of the court, and external promotion through patronage and politics in the office. It shows that advancement to the elite was actually controlled by a combination of extra-professional patronage and aristocratic politics. This is a complex and fortuitous system which reflected the norms of Georgian public life. More importantly, it also represented the progressive growth and increasing power of parliamentary government. Despite ingrained historiographical assumptions, it certainly eroded the bar's autonomy; and in several ways it also checked the independence of the judiciary and perhaps with it the prestige of common law after 1689. The chapter argues that the chosen few who reached the top of the law were bred in a tradition of service to the imperial state constituted by the all-powerful king-in-parliament, rather than the welfare and freedom of the nation.

Keywords:   internal promotion, external promotion, rank, patronage, politics, independence

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