The Practice of Canon Law

in The Medieval Origins of the Legal Profession

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2008 | ISBN: 9780226077598
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226077611 | DOI:
The Practice of Canon Law

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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During the Middle Ages, lawyers practiced law in a variety of modes and settings. Advocates argued lawsuits on behalf of clients in courts, ecclesiastical and secular, and at home in their studies they drafted the technical documents that were at least as vital as oral argument in determining the outcome of a case. Providing legal advice and counsel constituted another basic element in every advocate's practice. Clients needed guidance about their legal options when they engaged in complex transactions, filed a lawsuit, or entered a defense to a complaint. Judges likewise routinely sought advice from knowledgeable advocates before they handed down their decisions. Prominent advocates charged handsome fees for formal written opinions, both in connection with litigation and outside of it. In addition, advocates were sometimes involved in arbitration proceedings to settle disputes informally between individuals who preferred to settle their differences out of court and away from the public eye.

Keywords: lawyers; advocates; Middle Ages; courts; oral argument; legal advice; counsel; judges; litigation; arbitration

Chapter.  26333 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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