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The Volume XXV

Green August, 1913

Bag Number 8

The Meeting of the Pennsylvania Bar Association

THE nineteenth annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Bar Association held at Cape May, N. J., June 24-26, showed that body to be discharging its public functions in a creditable if not remarkable manner, with recognition of the duty of responsible leadership and initiative appropriate to a great state bar association. It is evident that the Pennsylvania Bar Association is pro gressive to the extent of pressing necessary reforms for the improvement of legal procedure and the reorganization of inferior courts, and of supporting bene ficent penal legislation looking to the employment of prisoners. It is animated by such a sense of professional propriety as may be readily aroused by the reported existence of glaring and obvious evils like that of jury-fixing, but is less finely sensitive to the need of conciliating and overcoming differences of ethical conception with respect to such a matter as the practice of taking contingent fees. It is somewhat too conservative, perhaps, in hesitating to approve the Legislative Committee device through which many bar associations do effective work, in taking the attitude that issues of partisan politics should never be discussed by the Association, and in treating subjects political rather than legal, like the initiative, referendum and recall, as lying definitely outside its province. It is unable to make effective use of the expert committee device to

settle questions of a purely technical nature such as may be presented by proposed local government legislation. The most inspiring feature of the meeting, to our minds, was the annual address, delivered by Robert C. Smith, K.C., of Montreal. Discussing the present and probable future position of the bar, Mr. Smith advocated high professional standards of independence, intelligence, and integrity, and said: — "The bar has its faults, but it occupies a position in the world today of which its members should be proud. In the administration of justice between in dividuals, it has worked out, and is working out, reforms from day to day and principally such reforms as will aid the poorer and the weaker members of society. Expenses are being reduced, delays are being shortened — in fact, the bar is working to the end that the constitutional rights shall be the actual rights of the humblest citizen in the land. "Notwithstanding all the criticisms to which it is subjected, the profession of the law still stands as a great neces sity of society. In the very conditions which are largely responsible for these criticisms is evident the necessity for a learned and a wise profession in which the people may have confidence. The more intense modern life becomes, the more essential is it that the rapid move ments of the day shall be in harmony with principles that have stood the test