THE FUTURE OF THE ENGLISH LEGAL PROFESSION

Publication Date01 October 1946
AuthorL. C. B. Gower
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2230.1946.tb01010.x
THE
MODERN
LAW
REVIEW
Volume
9
October
1946
No.
3
THE FUTURE
OF
THE ENGLISH LEGAL
PROFESSION
AT
a
time when large numbers of barristers and solicitors are
returning from war service to their chosen profession it seems
appropriate to try to forecast what the future (if any) of the
legal profession is likely to be.
I
say
'
if any
'
since there
is one school of thought which professes the view that
England is rushing headlong to an anarchy in which there
will be no law worthy of the name and in which the legal
profession will either perish
or
be absorbed into the civil
service-the latter fate, one gathers, being regarded as rather
worse than death. But although vocal expression is given to
this point of view in the Inns of Court and the Law Society's
Hall, most of its protagonists do not seem to take themselves
very seriously and genuine advocacy
of
this theory seems,
in
the words of the Prime Minister, to be virtually limited to the
lunatic fringe.
Nevertheless, there is no doubt that social conditions in
England are undergoing a radical change and that the legal
profession, whether it likes
it
or
not,' will have to undergo
radical changes also.
A.
THE
FUTURE
LEGAL
SYSTEM
Before we can attempt to visualise what these changes
are likely to be,
it
is necessary to have
a
general idea of
the
legal system in which the profession will have to operate.
I
start, therefore, with the following hypotheses which
will
I
think command fairly general acceptance
as
the likely
line
of development irrespective of the political colour of the
government of the day, although of course the speed
of
this
development will depend on the party in power from time
to
time
:-
1.
The English social system will become increasingly
Socialistic in the sense that it will adopt
a
planned economy
designed to provide social security and equality of oppor-
tunity for all.
1
On
thc
whole
it will not like it. The legal profession
is
averse
to
change,
But
as
reccnt nieetiugs of the Bar and the
Law
Society have made clear.
thc
medical profcssion was equally averse. . . .
211
VOL.
9
15
214
YODEaN
LAW
REVIEW
VOL
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2.
Its
main features will be:-
(a)
A
gradually increasing range of social services
(b) Nationalisation of the key industries.
(c) High taxation of income during life and of capital
at
death. This will be necessary to maintain the
social services and will also lead (and be designed
to lead) to
a
gradual elimination of the higher
income groups and
a
levelling up of capital and
income among all classes."
sponsored by the State.
(d)
An
increasing degree of bureaucratic control.
3.
These developments will lead not to less law but to
more. The view sometimes formerly held that Socialism
entails the eradication of any legal system in the orthodox
sense
is
su5ciently disproved by present experience in this
country. We have already moved some considerable distance
along the road to Socialism and the result has been
a
vastly
increased range of legal regulations affecting the man in the
street to
a
greater extent than ever before,
so
that the legal
profession
as
a
whole
is
larger and busier than ever.
It
is
also disproved by the experience of the
U.S.S.R.
and this
despite the fact that there Socialism was introduced by civil
war and rev~lution.~
On
the other hand the legal system
is
likely to differ some-
what from the present both as regards content, method of
creation, and the nature of the Courts in which
it
is enforced.
As regards content, the emphasis will change from private
law to public law-from private contract to public regulation.
This tendency is already very much in evidence.
It
has
received
a
new impetus from the War and from the present
Labour Government, but was noticeable long before either and
was manifested in
a
wide range of
subject^.^
As the State
increases
its
social services and
its
control over fields formerly
left to private enterprise, the growth
of
Administrative
Law
in the Continental sense seems inevitable and the English
2
The rntg at which this is Plready procceding
is
shown
by
the fact that thc
numbcr of individuals with
a
net income
of
f6,000
prr annum
eud
over
huh
shrunk
from
7,000
in
1938-9
to
sixty in
1944-45.
Similarly, of tax
payeib
whose net incomes exceed
8150
pcr nnnum, only
two
snd
a
half
per thousand
have not incomes of over
$2,000
as
against nearly eleven per thousand in
1938-9.
3
See Schlesinger,
Sooiet
Legal
Theory,
which makes it clear that despite
popular belief the present Soviet legal system
does
not differ
so
very funda-
mentally
from
that
of
capitalist States.
4
Note,
for
example, the extent to which
in
the last fifteen years the place
of
private
lam
Ftestrictive Covenants
has
been usurped by public law
Town
Planning Schema.

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