Sunday, September 18, 2011

Don't Go to Law School Unless You Want to Practice Law, They Said

From an introduction to canon law by James Brundage (Medieval Canon Law, p. 67):
. . . by the end of the fourteenth century anyone who hoped to achieve high office in either ecclesiastical or civil society needed either powerful connections or a legal education and preferably both. Since legal training cultivated both verbal and reasoning skills, as well as recall of a vast battery of rules and procedures, lawyers as a group tended to be articulate and learned, their talents tempered by the requirements of a complex and demanding discipline.

Successful teachers and practitioners of the law, moreover, often accumulated sufficient wealth to be able to afford the luxuries not only of collecting books, but also of reading them and reflecting on them, while many achieved sufficient social status and influence to assure that their views were listenend to with respect.

It is scarcely surprising then, to discover that many of the leading fourteenth and fifteenth century humanists had trained as lawyers.
To which I say "Harrumph," and it echoes down the ages, apparently. ("The luxury of reading and reflecting upon books" -- editors might have that, if we didn't read and reflect on so much else.)

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