We talked about the history of the Law Society of Saskatchewan’s Roll in a previous Throwback post. So when and how did the Roll come into existence in the legal profession?
It went way back to the 12th century when the English legal profession started to take shape. An early sign of professional regulation appeared in the Statute of Westminster 1275 which imposed penalties on lawyers (Serjeant-at-law) who were found to be deceitful (Fraud Act 1275). An attornatus could only be appointed ad hoc for a specific law suit. If a party wished to appoint an attornatus for more than one law suit, ie, a generalis attornatus, it must be secured by special writ. The permission for the appointment of a general attorney would only be granted under extraordinary circumstances such as official business for the king, or that the attorney was a high churchman or going abroad on a crusade.
A decade later, the Second Statute of Westminster 1285 provided that if the grantee possessed lands in different counties, he might be permitted to appoint a general attorney to represent him in all matters which might arise in courts. The right to appoint a general legal representative marked the beginning of a modern attorneyship.
In the following centuries, litigation and type of actions increased and attempts were made to regulate this growing profession. Up until 1728, it was not required by law that there should be a registry of practicing lawyers. The Attorneys and Solicitors Act of 1728 provided that attorneys and solicitors should serve five years as clerks under articles, that they should take the oath prescribed and that their names should be entered on a roll. These rolls or books of attorneys are usually arranged alphabetically and in chronological order of admission. Around the same time, a group of solicitors set up the “Society of Gentlemen Practisers in the Courts of Law and Equity”. This was the beginning of the Law Society.