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2. That the Gibbs bill as a proposed form of legislation has elicited the criticism it was expected to elicit and that there must be a complete revision thereof when a new statute is drawn.
3. That the criticisms of the Gibbs bill can be met and that it is entirely practicable to draft a bill that will obviate them.
4. That the State Association should continue its efforts by promoting discussion throughout the State to instruct the members of the Bar in a proper understanding and acceptance of the duty of the Bar to assume and discharge those functions which can only be performed by a united Bar, to the end that the members of the Bar may accept the principle that such duties should be performed by the united Bar of the State.
5. That the Committee be continued, with such changes and with such additional members representative of various parts of the State as the President may name; that it continue the study of this subject; that it report the results of the operations of State Bar organizations in other states, as well as the experience of other associations in dealing with the matter, all with a view to the submission at a future date to the Association of a fuller and more complete report on the subject.
GEORGE H. BOND,
JULIUS HENRY COHEN,
RICHARD H. TEMPLETON,
WILLIAM J. ROCHE,
REPORT OF THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON THE ORGANIZATION
OF THE BAR OF THE VIRGINIA STATE BAR ASSOCIATION.
THE PRINCIPLE INVOLVED IN THE PROPOSED PLAN.
The plan of Bar organization referred to this Committee for consideration looks to the unification of the Bar of the State into a single all-inclusive body which is to act as an agency of the State for the purpose of regulating the subjects of admission, discipline and disbarment, subject at least as to the more serious forms of discipline and as to all cases of disbarment to an appeal to the courts. In England and France, to go no further, it has for many years been recognized that the most jealous guardian of legal ethics is the Bar itself. Various analogies at once suggest themselves. The characteristic regulation of ecclesiastical affairs invested in the several churches or denominations, not in the ordinary tribunals of municipal law. So, too-occasionally by extra-legal means those following distinct vocations are not infrequently united in organizations which exercise within those vocations a high measure of control over members. In reporting to an organization of Virginia lawyers it may not be out of place to say that certainly one of the most conspicuous instances of effective self-discipline, maintained over a period of more than fourscore years, is that afforded by the operation of the honor system at the University of Virginia, in which an all-inclusive aggregation of young men of an average age of approximately twenty-one years has maintained in the fullest vigor a system of self-government whose success has become a tradition and is an outstanding fact. The equally effective operation of the system in other colleges of the State demonstrates that it is to the system rather than the institution that the credit is due; and the central feature of the system is self-government.
These and similar instances but illustrate the experience ot mankind that the imposition of responsibility usually brings in its train an added capacity for meeting that responsibility. It must be conceded that the Bar, in view of the peculiarly intimate character of its relations with the public, constitutes a body in which the maintenance of high ethical standards is pre-eminently important. There can be no doubt of the desirability of the objective sought. The question remains as to the best means for bringing this about. The Bar of England, to mention an instance of self-government very familiar to American lawyers, assuredly constitutes an inspiring example of the effectiveness of such a system of government when assiduously maintained.
It would serve no useful purpose to trace in historical detail the reasons whereby the transference to this country of English jurisprudence was unaccompanied by the English system of bar government, though it would not be difficult to do so. The fact remains that the Bar of America, after running the gamut from extreme public disesteem to extraordinary public influence, the high tide of which has perhaps somewhat receded, finds itself now in the great majority of American commonwealths a name rather than an entity, the individuals composing it being subject merely to the operation of the general laws of the state, without adequate means either of selfprotection or of insuring the proper service of the public. That this condition leaves much to be desired is, we believe, not to be disputed. Again the outstanding question is one of means and methods.
Under these conditions there are discernible two distinct schools of thought: the one, characteristic of the country generally, which has led to the formation of selective voluntary associations composed for the most part of members of the Bar sedulous to preserve its standards but with no jurisdiction over the non-adherents (usually a majority), except through the invocation of the ordinary processes of law; the other, which advocates the inclusion of all practitioners within an organized body in the belief that the selection and the control of those seeking to practice the profession can be effectively exercised only through that direct jurisdiction which such an
organization possesses over its own members. The former may be described as the selective principle; the latter as the inclusive principle.
ARGUMENTS PRO AND CON.
In support of the former view, it has been urged that the historical experience of the American Bar, with the apparent indication that a majority of its members prefer not to be formally affiliated with the voluntary associations which at the present time afford the only agencies for corporate selfexpression, suggests that the inclusion of such members would bring into the corporate body an outstanding majority of demonstrated indifference to the maintenance of professional interests and standards; that the movement in short would result in the vesting of control in an unworthy majority rather than in an active and devoted minority. To this several answers may be made. In the first place, at present no effective control is vested in the minority or in any other group. Secondly, the inference of indifference is not believed to be justly drawn. It may be that many lawyers have failed to identify themselves with Bar associations simply through a conviction of the relative impotence of these associations. Thirdly, much may be attributed to the mere operation of inertia. It is, we believe, common experience that many lawyers do not join Bar associations simply because they have never seriously considered the subject. Fourthly, the conception that lawyers not members of Bar associations are apt to be unworthy practitioners of the profession is not justified in fact, and if justified in fact it would suggest a very gloomy view of the character of the profession as a whole. The fact that a person has been admitted to practice law ought to indicate that he is qualified both professionally and ethically to do so, and it can be argued with great force that in the instances in which this is not true it is more than ever important that such members of the profession should be brought within the control of the decent majority.
Another view urged by those who advocate the selective principle is that the Bar as a whole is not sufficiently interested in the maintenance of high ethical standards to justify the
State in assigning to it the important functions contemplated by the inclusive plan. It must indeed be recognized as a very real danger that if the inauguration of that plan should be followed by indifference on the part of those selected to administer it, the Bar as a whole would be charged with a measure of responsibility which the existing system enables it to abnegate. To this view, however, the reply is made that it spells a counsel of fear rather than of courage, and that it can be put forward only at the cost of a certain measure of self-stultification on the part of the profession as a whole. Assuredly it is more inspiring to feel that the Bar, as other bodies of men engaged in a common enterprise, would, if granted the power to maintain its own standards, discharge that duty worthily.
Another reason for advocating the selective principle is based upon social considerations. It may be urged that the present voluntary associations afford means for congenial social intercourse which, in an all-inclusive organization, might be impaired. The Committee does not regard this reason as of serious moment. The meetings of the State Bar would be primarily for the disposition of business, and not for social contacts, however pleasant the latter may be. Moreover, the inclusive system of organization does not in any sense exclude the maintenance of the existing voluntary associations, and the two forms of organization-the official organization under a state law and the present Virginia State Bar Associationmight well co-exist, and indeed it is believed to be desirable that for the present at least they should co-exist.
The foregoing is a succinct statement of the principal opposing views of which the Committee has heard or which have occurred to it. Reasons other than those heretofore suggested which favor the organization of the bar along the lines proposed include the broadened influence that such an organization would presumably enjoy, especially in respect of legislation and judicial selection; the greater democracy inherent in an all-inclusive organization; the raising of ethical standards; an improved status and dignity of the Bar as a recognized state agency; and increased continuity in organiza