Legal Profession in Medieval England: A History of Regulation
154 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2009 Last revised: 11 Oct 2013
Date Written: 1998
This article examines the history of the regulation of the English legal profession in medieval England. Two interrelated reasons make this a worthwhile endeavor: both the legal profession and its initial regulation emerged during this period. The primary objectives of this article are to identify and study the important legislation from the mid-thirteenth century to the end of the fifteenth century regulating the admission of lawyers to practice and the conduct of practicing lawyers. Critical regulations were adopted during this period. In addition, judges used their inherent power to control the admission of lawyers and sanction their misconduct. In studying this medieval regulation, this article discusses the problems and forces that led to the enactment of the various statutes and ordinances and identifies their objectives, analyzes the meaning and effect of these regulations, and attempts to appraise their historical and current significance. In addition to the historical interest in these matters, studying medieval regulation of the legal profession offers an important opportunity to discover the extent to which this initial regulation and the concerns that prompted it are similar to modern regulation and concerns regarding lawyers.
Before turning to an examination of the medieval regulation, this article provides some historical background regarding the origins and emergence of the English legal profession and the general climate of opinion in the latter half of the thirteenth century.
Keywords: legal history, ethics, professional responsibility
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By Nuno Garoupa