The legal profession was very different thirty or forty years ago. At one point in time lawyers did not exist. The first lawyer in history is unknown but ancient lawyers created the path for the lawyers of today. The first lawyers were located in Ancient Rome and Greece. Orators were used in ancient Athens to plead a friend’s case. Individuals were required to either plead their case or have a friend or citizen plead on their behalf. Ancient lawyers were unable to accept any fee. This prevented the establishment of a formal profession.
The profession was legalized by Emperor Claudius in ancient Rome. Lawyers were given the right to charge a limited fee. This was not enough to make a living. Some lawyers specialized in law while others specialized in rhetoric. This meant clients often has to meet with two different lawyers. The Roman laws became more precise and people began focusing on understanding and studying the law. As the history of lawyers evolved, it became regulated. The rules dictated where cases were pled, the fees and registration with a bar or court. Prior to this, every citizen could claim to be a lawyer. A professional standard was established but it was only accessible for the higher classes. This consisted of wealthy amateurs who saw law as an intellectual hobby. They were called jurisconsults.
Lawyers had a difficult time earning a living during the medieval times. The profession in the western world collapsed but resurged in service to the laws of the church. The church and the state doubled their efforts between 1190 and 1230 to control the profession. This was when the push to legalize the profession and establish an oath for lawyers began. Lawyers had a negative reputation due to the extra litigation resulting from misconduct and incompetence. Numerous sectors of society pushed out layers with tight regulations because they were not trusted.
Lawyers were not a part of the Americas during the establishment of the British colonies. Many people treated lawyers with hostility. Lawyers were outlawed in certain colonies and only able to charge a small fee in areas where they were allowed to practice. The colonies grew but most lawyers did not have any training and clients took risks regarding quality. Massachusetts did not require special training until 1761. This was when an association was formed by the bar requiring seven years of training prior to practicing law. For additional details please visit this site.
The legal profession gained power and respect as the prejudice disappeared. The Declaration of Independence was signed by 56 men and 25 were lawyers. Lawyers were established throughout the country after the American Revolution. The William & Mary College granted the first Bachelor of Law degree in the United States in 1793. Small law schools were established during the 1850’s by lawyers all over the United States. Lawyers must currently receive their undergraduate degree prior to earning a J.D. The development of the profession has impacted the current customs and rules pertaining to the profession.