Lawyer in the 19th century

May 2018
7
Canada
Two quick questions I have been wondering:

-Was the occupation of a lawyer valued highly in the society back then?

-Was it possible for them to be sent to another city due to promotion?
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,752
Dispargum
A government lawyer, ie, a public prosecutor, could be sent to another city if he worked for the state or federal government, possibly as a promotion. I'm unaware of any multi-city law firms being in existence at that time.

In the US, federal appellate courts (the first court of appeal, below the Supreme Court) are called circuit courts because the appellate judges used to ride around from town to town on a circuit hearing appeals cases. The lawyers who argued before these appellate judges would also travel around with the judges. Lincoln did this in his younger days.

Lawyers probably had more prestige in the 19th century than they have today. They also had higher incomes relative to other professions. There were fewer lawyers back then. Today, in the US anyway, there are more lawyers than there is necessary legal work to be done. This is why lawyers have reputations as ambulance chasers - they're desperately looking for work and are all too willing to file frivolous lawsuits. Lincoln was famous for advising potential clients to settle their arguments privately, without a lawsuit. He could afford to turn away work. With fewer lawyers in his day, he had plenty of real legal work to do.
 

authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
5,219
Two quick questions I have been wondering:

-Was the occupation of a lawyer valued highly in the society back then?

-Was it possible for them to be sent to another city due to promotion?
Depends which country you mean. Sir Richard Amphlett was a direct descendent of William Amphlett, Lord of the manor of Hadzor and Sheriff of Worcestershire. He was eventually to be raised to the bench as Baron of the Exchequer, in London. There are many like him.

https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Amphlett,_Richard_Paul_(DNB00)
 
Feb 2011
823
Kitchener. Ont.
Two quick questions I have been wondering:

-Was the occupation of a lawyer valued highly in the society back then?

-Was it possible for them to be sent to another city due to promotion?

As you appear to be posting from Canada, does your question concern someone local?


If you have a person in mind then perhaps you also have a business name?
You should be able to find out if that business had a separate office in another city just by accessing the Newspaper archives for the 19th century.
It was most likely the same business if the move was a promotion, but there is a chance a lawyer could take a position of higher standing in another law office in another city. Which is also a promotion.
 
May 2018
7
Canada
Thank you all for the information! Really helpful and interesting to know. :)


Lawyers probably had more prestige in the 19th century than they have today. They also had higher incomes relative to other professions. There were fewer lawyers back then. Today, in the US anyway, there are more lawyers than there is necessary legal work to be done. This is why lawyers have reputations as ambulance chasers - they're desperately looking for work and are all too willing to file frivolous lawsuits. Lincoln was famous for advising potential clients to settle their arguments privately, without a lawsuit. He could afford to turn away work. With fewer lawyers in his day, he had plenty of real legal work to do.
Thank you very much! I didn't know about this before.

Depends which country you mean.
I was thinking Russia? Thank you for the link! ^^

As you appear to be posting from Canada, does your question concern someone local?


If you have a person in mind then perhaps you also have a business name?
You should be able to find out if that business had a separate office in another city just by accessing the Newspaper archives for the 19th century.
It was most likely the same business if the move was a promotion, but there is a chance a lawyer could take a position of higher standing in another law office in another city. Which is also a promotion.
No, it really was just out of genuine curiosity as I'm writing a story that happens to touch upon the topic of a lawyer's occupation in the 19th century. ^^; But I assume that means as long as the office has a branch in another city, it could be a promotion?
 

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,729
No, it really was just out of genuine curiosity as I'm writing a story that happens to touch upon the topic of a lawyer's occupation in the 19th century. ^^; But I assume that means as long as the office has a branch in another city, it could be a promotion?
There weren't large corporate law practices in early 19th century but closer to 1890s I think a few practices with offices in different cities did exist. However it was very rare with vast majority of lawyers practicing privately especially away from the NE. More likely a lawyer would simply move himself if business opportunities presented and representing either single large client or a certain class of clients in litigation rather than domestic people offered the highest renumeration.