Lawyers and the early modern state: regulation, exclusion, and numerus clausus

Finlay, J. (2009) Lawyers and the early modern state: regulation, exclusion, and numerus clausus. Canadian Journal of History: Annales Canadiennes d'Histoire, 44(3), pp. 383-410.

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This article investigates the ways in which entry to the legal profession in early modern Europe was regulated and the nature of the various interests, from the state to the judges and societies of lawyers, who sought to limit the size of the practising bar and also the lower branch of the legal profession. In part exclusionary categories were universal, having been inherited from the tradition of the ius commune, but some were very specific to particular courts and regulated at the local or national level. At the same time, such limitations and exclusions as were maintained had an effect in directing law graduates away from legal practice and towards employment in other spheres, including the burgeoning bureaucracies of western Europe. This was particularly exacerbated during periods when the level of litigation in the courts fell, as it seems to have done in a number of jurisdictions in the early eighteenth century. The tendency of lawyers to combine to protect their interests is reflected in the monopolies that sometimes arose in relation to practice in particular courts. Sometimes a highly restricted number of advocates or procurators had the right to practise in a court, and this could create practical problems which, it was argued, affected the quality of the legal decisions produced.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Finlay, Professor John
Authors: Finlay, J.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Law
Journal Name:Canadian Journal of History: Annales Canadiennes d'Histoire

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