By the mid-fourteenth century, professional associations of canon lawyers (legal advocates in Christian ecclesiastical courts, which dealt with cases involving marriage, inheritance, and other issues) had appeared in most of Western Europe, and a body of professional standards had been defined for them. One might expect that the professional associations would play a prominent role in enforcing these standards of conduct, as other guilds often did, and as modern professional associations do, but that seems not to have happened. Advocates’ professional organizations showed little fervor for disciplining their erring members. Some even attempted to hobble efforts at enforcement. The Florentine guild of lawyers, for example, forbade its members to play any role in disciplinary proceedings against other guild members. In the few recorded episodes of disciplinary enforcement, the initiative for disciplinary action apparently came from a dissatisfied client, not from fellow lawyers.
At first glance, there seem to be two possible explanations for the rarity of disciplinary proceedings. Medieval canon lawyers may have generally observed the standards of professional conduct scrupulously. Alternatively, it is possible that deviations from the established standards of behavior were not uncommon, but that canonical disciplinary mechanisms were so inefficient that most delinquents escaped detection and punishment.
Two considerations make it clear that the second of these explanations is more plausible. First, the English civil law courts, whose ethical standards were similar to those of ecclesiastical courts, show many more examples of disciplinary actions against legal practitioners than do the records of church courts. This discrepancy could well indicate that the disciplinary mechanisms of the civil courts functioned more efficiently than those of the church courts. The alternative inference, namely, that ecclesiastical advocates were less prone to ethical lapses than their counterparts in the civil courts, seems inherently weak, especially since there was some overlap of personnel between the civil bar and the ecclesiastical bar.
Second, church authorities themselves complained about the failure of advocates to measure up to ethical standards and deplored the shortcomings of the disciplinary system. Thus the Council of Basel declared that canon lawyers failed to adhere to the ethical prescriptions laid down in numerous papal constitutions and directed Cardinal Cesarian to address the problem. In England, where medieval church records are extraordinarily rich, similar complaints about the failure of the disciplinary system to reform unethical practices were very common.
Such criticisms seem to have had a paradoxical result, for they apparently reinforced the professional solidarity of lawyers at the expense of the enforcement of ethical standards. Thus the profession’s critics may actually have induced advocates to organize professional associations for self-defense. The critics’ attacks may also have persuaded lawyers to assign a higher priority to defending themselves against attacks by nonprofessionals than to disciplining wayward members within their own ranks.
7. Which one of the following best states the main conclusion of the passage?
(A) Professional organizations of medieval canon lawyers probably only enforced ethical standards among their own members when provoked to do so by outside criticisms.
(B) Professional organizations of medieval civil lawyers seem to have maintained stricter ethical standards for their own members than did professional organizations of medieval canon lawyers.
(C) Professional organizations of medieval canon lawyers apparently served to defend their members against critics’ attacks rather than to enforce ethical standards.
(D) The ethical standards maintained by professional associations of medieval canon lawyers were chiefly laid down in papal constitutions.
(E) Ethical standards for medieval canon lawyers were not laid down until professional organizations for these lawyers had been formed.
8. According to the passage, which one of the following statements about law courts in medieval England is true?
(A) Some English lawyers who practiced in civil courts also practiced in church courts, but others served exclusively in one court or the other.
(B) English canon lawyers were more likely to initiate disciplinary proceedings against their colleagues than were English civil lawyers.
(C) English civil lawyers maintained more stringent ethical standards than did civil lawyers in the rest of Europe.
(D) English ecclesiastical courts had originally been modeled upon English civil courts.
(E) English ecclesiastical courts kept richer and more thorough records than did English civil courts.
9. The author refers to the Florentine guild of lawyers in the first paragraph most probably in order to
(A) introduce a theory about to be promoted
(B) illustrate the type of action referred to in the previous sentence
(C) underline the universality of a method discussed throughout the paragraph
(D) point out a flaw in an argument presented earlier in the paragraph
(E) rebut an anticipated objection to a thesis just proposed
10. The author refers to the Council of Basel (line 47) primarily in order to
(A) provide an example of the type of action needed to establish professional standards for canon lawyers
(B) contrast the reactions of English church authorities with the reactions of other bodies to violations of professional standards by canon lawyers
(C) bolster the argument that violations of professional standards by canon lawyers did take place
(D) explain how rules of conduct for canon lawyers were established
(E) describe the development of a disciplinary system to enforce professional standards among canon lawyers
11. According to the information in the passage, for which one of the following ethical violations would documentation of disciplinary action against a canon lawyer be most likely to exist?
(A) betraying a client’s secrets to the opposing party
(B) bribing the judge to rule in favor of a client
(C) misrepresenting credentials in order to gain admission to the lawyers’ guild
(D) spreading rumors in order to discredit an opposing lawyer
(E) knowingly helping a client to misrepresent the truth
12. Which one of the following is most analogous to the “professional solidarity” referred to in lines 56-57?
(A) Members of a teachers’ union go on strike when they believe one of their colleagues to be falsely accused of using an inappropriate textbook.
(B) In order to protect the reputation of the press in the face of a largely hostile public, a journalist conceals distortions in a colleague’s news article.
(C) Several dozen recording artists agree to participate in a concert to benefit an endangered environmental habitat.
(D) In order to expedite governmental approval of a drug, a government official is persuaded to look the other way when a pharmaceutical manufacturer conceals evidence that the drug may have minor side effects.
(E) A popular politician agrees to campaign for another, less popular politician belonging to the same political party.
13. The passage suggests that which one of the following is most likely to have been true of medieval guilds?
(A) Few guilds of any importance existed before the mid-fourteenth century.
(B) Many medieval guilds exercised influence over the actions of their members.
(C) Most medieval guilds maintained more exacting ethical standards than did the associations of canon lawyers.
(D) Medieval guilds found it difficult to enforce discipline among their members.
(E) The ethical standards of medieval guilds varied from one city to another.
14. The author would be most likely to agree with which one of the following regarding the hypothesis that medieval canon lawyers observed standards of professional conduct scrupulously?
(A) It is untrue because it is contradicted by documents obtained from the ecclesiastical courts.
(B) It is unlikely because it describes behavior markedly different from behavior observed in the same situation in modern society.
(C) It is unlikely because it describes behavior markedly different from behavior observed in a similar area of medieval society.
(D) It is impossible to assess intelligently because of the dearth of civil and ecclesiastical documents.
(E) It is directly supported by documents obtained from civil and ecclesiastical courts.
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