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The Legal
Profession: A
History
By John Hustaix
The Legal
Profession: A
History
The legal profession can trace its roots all the way back
to ancient Rome and Greece. During the Byzantine and
late Roman Empires, a separate class of notaries
emerged, and advocates acquired more status. During
the Dark Ages, the legal profession started to decline in
western Europe. However, the profession re-emerged
during the 12th and 13th centuries, with experts on
canon law coming to the fore. The profession began to
be regulated in this period and its reach extended to
both civil and ecclesiastical law.
The Legal
Profession in
the Middle Ages
During the Middle Ages lawyers gained a generally negative
reputation, largely due to what was perceived as excessive
litigation. This was often caused by the misconduct or
incompetence of practitioners and led to the profession being
mistrusted. Subsequently, there was a general push for lawyers
to be subject to tighter regulation.
A growing trend towards professionalisation resulted in the
English civil courts passing a statute in 1275 that prescribed
punishment for professional lawyers found guilty of deceit. In
1280, the city of London’s mayor’s court brought into effect
regulations regarding admission procedures, including the need
for lawyers to swear an oath.
The Legal
Profession in the
United States
The first lawyers didn’t appear immediately upon the founding
of the first British colonies in the Americas. In time, some
colonies went as far as to outlaw lawyers, while in others the
profession was extremely tightly regulated, and lawyers were
only permitted to charge a small fee.
However, by the time the Declaration of Independence was
signed the legal profession had begun to acquire respect and
power; nearly half of the men who signed the declaration were
lawyers themselves. Today, in the US, an individual wanting to
practice as a lawyer must have earned an undergraduate
degree before going on to earn their JD (Juris Doctor) degree.
The Bar in
Luxembourg
Lawyers that have practised in Luxembourg, such as John
Hustaix, are aware that the Luxembourg Bar has existed since
1810 and is headed by the President of the Bar. The origin of
this name dates back to the 8th century, when the head of the
Bar was also its standard-bearer. The Luxembourg Bar
Association regards it as a point of honour to strengthen the
bonds of trust between the public, lawyers and public
authorities.

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John Hustaix - The Legal Profession: A History

  • 2. The Legal Profession: A History The legal profession can trace its roots all the way back to ancient Rome and Greece. During the Byzantine and late Roman Empires, a separate class of notaries emerged, and advocates acquired more status. During the Dark Ages, the legal profession started to decline in western Europe. However, the profession re-emerged during the 12th and 13th centuries, with experts on canon law coming to the fore. The profession began to be regulated in this period and its reach extended to both civil and ecclesiastical law.
  • 3. The Legal Profession in the Middle Ages During the Middle Ages lawyers gained a generally negative reputation, largely due to what was perceived as excessive litigation. This was often caused by the misconduct or incompetence of practitioners and led to the profession being mistrusted. Subsequently, there was a general push for lawyers to be subject to tighter regulation. A growing trend towards professionalisation resulted in the English civil courts passing a statute in 1275 that prescribed punishment for professional lawyers found guilty of deceit. In 1280, the city of London’s mayor’s court brought into effect regulations regarding admission procedures, including the need for lawyers to swear an oath.
  • 4. The Legal Profession in the United States The first lawyers didn’t appear immediately upon the founding of the first British colonies in the Americas. In time, some colonies went as far as to outlaw lawyers, while in others the profession was extremely tightly regulated, and lawyers were only permitted to charge a small fee. However, by the time the Declaration of Independence was signed the legal profession had begun to acquire respect and power; nearly half of the men who signed the declaration were lawyers themselves. Today, in the US, an individual wanting to practice as a lawyer must have earned an undergraduate degree before going on to earn their JD (Juris Doctor) degree.
  • 5. The Bar in Luxembourg Lawyers that have practised in Luxembourg, such as John Hustaix, are aware that the Luxembourg Bar has existed since 1810 and is headed by the President of the Bar. The origin of this name dates back to the 8th century, when the head of the Bar was also its standard-bearer. The Luxembourg Bar Association regards it as a point of honour to strengthen the bonds of trust between the public, lawyers and public authorities.