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to the State Bar Association on the recommendations of its delegates to the national Conference of Bar Association Delegates after the Conference had given the matter study for several years. The recommendation having been made to all State Bar Associations, and many of the states having approved of the principle and having adopted legislation for an official statutory state bar, this Association took action at the annual meeting in 1922. In addition to the passing of legislation carrying out the recommendations of the national Conference of Bar Association Delegates in the states of North Dakota, Idaho, Alabama and New Mexico, the California. Bar passed such a statute in the Legislature in 1925. The statute was vetoed by the Governor, but we are advised by officers of the California State Bar Association that the legislation will be proposed again this year and that the Governor recently elected has already pledged himself to approve of the legislation. In other states of the Union, committees have the matter under consideration, among others a committee of the Virginia Bar Association, which has made a comprehensive report, reviewing all the arguments pro and con and recommending that the State Bar Association of Virginia approve of an act drawn by the committee.
The principle of a statutory official Bar embracing every member of the profession was approved by resolutions of this Association at the annual meetings of 1924 and 1925. At the meeting of the Association in 1923, Mr. Martin Conboy read an exhaustive paper on the subject. At the annual meeting in 1926 the Committee submitted a tentative statute known as the "Gibbs Bill," prepared under the resolutions of the Association in 1925, and the discussion of the subject matter, as well as of the bill, was the principal topic of discussion at the annual meeting. The purpose of preparing the bill was to present the subject matter in concrete form for criticism and discussion. Supplementing the discussion by members of the Committee, Honorable Charles E. Hughes made the principal argument in favor of Complete Bar Organization, and William D. Guthrie, Esq., made the principal argument against it. At the close of the discussion the Association passed a resolution continuing this Committee, directing it to attend the meeting of the Conference of Bar Association Delegates to be held
in Washington for the special consideration of this subject, and to report the action of such Conference and the Committee's further views at the next (this) annual meeting of the Association. Pursuant to such resolution, the Committee attended the Conference in Washington on April 28th, 1926. This meeting was presided over by the Honorable Charles E. Hughes of our own Bar, and was attended by delegates from almost every State Bar Association in the Union. An entire day was given over to the discussion of the topic in hearing reports of delegates from various states as to the progress of the movement in their respective districts and eliciting criticism. Many of the delegates present stated that they were unauthorized to vote on the subject, but had come merely to hear the arguments. Among these delegates were delegates from each of the congressional districts of Virginia, who later made a report giving a summary of the discussion and the result of their consideration to the Virginia Bar Association, and stated that "after careful consideration, the Committee has reached. the conclusion that the advantages to be obtained from an inclusive organization of the Bar materially outweighed any disadvantages that might result therefrom." We submit herewith, marked "Appendix A," a portion of the report of that Special Committee of the Virginia Bar Association, which fairly restates the arguments pro and con, which were advanced at the meeting at Washington.
The following resolution was adopted at the meeting:
Resolved, That this Conference of Bar Association Delegates recommends to the various state and local Bar Associations throughout the United States that compulsory all-inclusive incorporation of the Bar is a matter that should primarily and properly be determined by each state, in accordance with its own existing conditions and its own traditions.
In New York State since the last annual meeting of this Association the subject has received more attention from local Bar Associations than heretofore. In the City of New York, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York rejected Organization of the Bar of the State through statutory enactment, and the New York County Lawyers' Association dis
approved it, but adopted a resolution reaffirming that Association's faith in the principle on which it was founded, namely, an all-inclusive Bar Association, and declined to concur in the opinion that there is any danger in admitting the majority of the Bar of the county or State to participation in the government of the Bar.
Due to the efforts of Philip J. Wickser, President of the Erie County Bar Association, a noteworthy meeting was held at Buffalo on June 24th, 1926, which was attended by representatives of practically all the voluntary Bar Associations in the western section of the State. At this meeting the subject of statutory official Bar organization formed the principal topic for discussion, Mr. Julius Henry Cohen, of this Committee, speaking in favor, and Mr. Louis Marshall against. There seems to be hardly any doubt that so far as these delegates were concerned, they were of the opinion that the principle was sound and that a more complete organization of the Bar of the State must be brought about. They were, however, not satisfied with the Gibbs bill as the solution, and felt that an attempt should now be made to form a more complete organization through the machinery of the existing voluntary organizations, with some form of representation by delegates, and that a bill to effectutate an official State Bar organization would not be favored by a substantial majority of the Bar until it was better understood.
The Committee has repeatedly expressed the view, which it still entertains, that complete organization of the Bar in an official State Bar is undesirable unless acceptable in principle and in form to a very substantial majority of the lawyers of the State. Where such legislation has been adopted in other states, it has been due to a general acceptance of the principle and the formal legislation by a substantial majority of the Bar. Such an opinion has been brought about through existing State Bar organizations, as, for example, in California and New Mexico. The Committee entertains no doubt that when this subject has received adequate and thoughtful attention by the lawyers of New York State, they will come to the full acceptation of the principle, and that then legislation will follow as a matter of course. If there be indifference and apathy, it is
largely due to the failure of the profession generally to accept the principle of individual and collective responsibility for the conduct of the Bar in its public relations. For failure to bring about corrections and reforms in the practice of the law every lawyer in the State is held accountable. Public opinion is more and more focusing its attention upon the lawyers as a group. More and more the demand of the public is that the Bar function through an all-inclusive responsible organization. It is beyond question that the existing organizations, voluntary in form, are not equipped to meet these responsibilities adequately. The need for an official all-inclusive State Bar, with authority to speak for the entire profession, supported by all the lawyers of the State, and performing the duties that should be assumed by the Bar, seems apparent.
The Gibbs bill has accomplished the purpose for which it was prepared, namely, to elicit discussion of the principle and criticism of the form of the bill. The effect has been to stimulate thinking on the part of the Bar, and many lawyers are now considering the matter who have never thought of it before. The papers prepared both by Mr. Guthrie and Mr. Cohen have been widely read and discussed. The Committee has received many letters from lawyers throughout the State who have read these papers. Some are in favor of the Gibbs bill; some oppose the bill but favor the principle. Others are opposed to both the principle and the bill. Lawyers are naturally a conservative body, and require time for careful consideration and reflection, especially upon matters that seem like a departure from accustomed procedure. A great deal of fear has been developed due to misunderstanding. The use of the term "compulsory" has led to the fear that something would be attempted without the consent of the Bar. This, of course, has never been the intention of the Committee, and as already stated, no legislation should be attempted, in the opinion of the Committee, until the Bar's concurrence therein is substantial and general. The fear has been expressed that voluntary associations would lose their identity either in the official State Bar or through competition. The Committec is convinced that this fear is groundless. Every plan considered by your Committee has contemplated continuance of existing voluntary bodies, and in the opinion of the Committee
an official State Bar organization would stimulate membership in local Bar organizations.
Very considerable opposition developed to the requirement in the Gibbs bill for the payment of an annual registration fee. Chapter 834 of the Laws of 1926, the "Loomis Act," requires annual registration by the members of the medical profession. There was also introduced in 1926 the "Kennedy Bill," under the provisions of which all lawyers would be required to register annually and pay an annual fee of twenty-five dollars. These are significant facts that deserve thoughtful consideration by the members of this Association.
The Committee is of the opinion that the process of discussion and criticism should go on, and also that every movement to bring lawyers into better voluntary forms of organization is desirable. Upon these points all concur. The Committee does not believe that it would be wise to attempt to draft a new bill at this time, and thinks that there should be further discussion and debate of the whole subject matter. While it is possible to draw a statute which will obviate the criticisms thus far advanced, there is too much misunderstanding of the subject and too few lawyers have given the matter thought, and still fewer have given it thorough thought, so that at the present time no useful purpose would be served by endeavoring to perfect the Gibbs bill or any other statute. There is not yet existing machinery for enlisting the interest of the majority of the members of the Bar, and therefore the Committee is of the opinion that the next step to be taken is to secure a better organization of the voluntary Bar associations, especially of those located up the State, and the establishment of some machinery by which the local Bar associations will participate through delegates or otherwise, with voting power perhaps, in the meetings of the New York State Bar Association, as well as by representation upon its Executive Committee.
The conclusions of the Committee are:
1. That the Bar of the State is not yet ready for any legislation providing for an official all-inclusive Bar Association created by statute.