History of Lawyers

The first people who could be called lawyers were the great speakers of ancient Greece. Individual people were presumed to present a defense their own cases, but that was circumvented by having a friend better at speaking do it for you. Around the middle of the fourth century, the Greeks got rid of the request for a friend. Second, a more serious obstacle, which the Greek orators never completely overcame, was the rule that no one could take a fee to plead the case of another. This law was disregarded in practice, but was never abolished, which meant that orators could never present themselves as legal professionals or experts. They had to uphold the ruse that they were an ordinary citizen helping out a friend for free, and so they could never organize into a real profession,with professional associations and titles, like their modern lawyers. If one narrows the definition to those men who could practice the legal profession openly and legally, then the first lawyers would have to be the orators of ancient Rome A law enacted in 204 BC barred Roman advocates from taking fees, but the law was widely ignored.The ban on fees was abolished by Emperor Claudius who legalized advocacy as a profession and allowed the Roman advocates to become the first lawyers who could practice openly—but he also imposed a fee ceiling of 10,000 sesterces. This was apparently not much money; the Satires of Juvenal complain that there was no money in working as an advocate.Like their Greek contemporaries, early Roman advocates were trained in rhetoric not law, and the judges before whom they argued were also not law-trained But very early on, unlike Greece, Rome developed a class of specialists who were learned in the law, known as jurisconsults iuris consulti Jurisconsults were wealthy amateurs who dabbled in law as an intellectual hobby; they did not make their primary living from it. They gave legal opinions responsa on legal issues to all comers Roman judges and governors would routinely consult with an advisory panel of jurisconsults before rendering a decision, and advocates and ordinary people also went to jurisconsults for legal opinions. Thus, the Romans were the first to have a class of people who spent their days thinking about legal problems, and this is why their law became so "precise, detailed, and technical.The notaries or tabelliones appeared in the late Roman Empire. Like their modern-day descendants, the civil law notaries, they were responsible for drafting wills, conveyances, and contracts. They were ubiquitous and most villages had one. In Roman times, notaries were widely considered to be inferior to advocates and jurisconsults.