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Published as Chapter 3 in The Cambridge History of Law in America, Volume II, The Long Nineteenth Century (1789–1920), Michael Grossberg & Christopher Tomlins, eds.
The American legal profession matured and came to prominence during the century prior to the Civil War. Before the Revolution, across some 150 years, lawyers in different colonies underwent different experiences at different times. By the beginning of the eighteenth century, more lawyers were entering professional life. After the revolution and the defection by the Tory lawyers, the remaining quickly burnished their images in the glow of republican ideals while grasping new market opportunities. For most of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the overwhelming majority of American lawyers were trained by other lawyers. Reading law was thought of as a practical education, where acquiring the principles of the mysterious science was left to chance. However, over the course of the nineteenth century, lawyers, in conjunction with courts, gradually lost whatever control they had over admission standards and practices. The realities of legal practice were one of the factors that determined the place of lawyers in American society.
Cambridge University Press
Law | Legal History | Legal Profession
Alfred S. Konefsky, The Legal Profession: From the Revolution to the Civil War in The Cambridge History of Law in America 68 (Michael Grossberg & Christopher Tomlins, eds., Cambridge University Press 2008)