Friday, May 11, 2007

Governor Berkeley decrees mandatory pro bono and prohibits lawyers from trying civil cases

Well, it's anniversary weekend at Jamestown, a celebration of the 400th anniversary of the landing on the shores of Virginia. So we thought we'd provide a story as if it were back in the day. The year was 1646, instead of 1607, but still, there was a time when lawyers were expected to do more than practice law. What a barbaric time period:

  • "It is to be presumed that practicing lawyers, living in Virginia at this time, also sought other fields of labor, for it was decreed, by Berkeley, that professional attorneys were to be prohibited from receiving any compensation for their services, nor should they be allowed to appear in civil cases before the bar. Parties litigant must plead their own causes, without outside assistance, unless it appear to the court that one of the contestants was suffering from inability to make proper defense. In that case the court was instructed to select some one from the people, presumably not a lawyer, to assist. Lawyers may fail to understand, without explanation, how the colonists can be reported to have been contented and at peace."