The history of advocacy

The medieval state enacted an important part not only in political and cultural field, but in law creation and application as well. It is not to overbook, that in 1348, the eldest university in Middle Europe has been found in Prague with the Faculty of Law, that many of the Czech and foreign lawyers were causing on courts of Czech governors (for example Gozzo from Orvietta, Antonio Marini from Grenoble), and that domestic land, civic and mining law was on comparable level to the law in neighbouring Holy Roman Empire. In legal memorials of Czech provenance, we meet with the predecessors of lawyers – the rhetoricians. The first reference of effort to organize advocacy and even establish numerus clausus is bound to the resolution of the House from year 1615.  The issue of tariffs (fees) were - of course – solved long before now. Similarily to contemporary France, share fees were banned.

Formal adaption of advocacy is brought later by the Renewed Land´s constitution valid in Bohemia since 1927 and since 1628 in Moravia, and its novelization called Declaratories made in years 1650 – 1652. Since 17th century, representation of a lawyer was compulsory and a disciplinary authority over lawyers was given to court. Only a graduated lawyer could become a juratory.

Tendency to make an office out of freelance occupation continued in 18th century. "This tendency, however, did not reach that intensity, so it could bring it to overall and systematic modification of the lawyer profession that could have been seen in Austria, but appears in sporadic, casuistic adaptations of the time". This is how advocacy worked until 1848. One of the most important Prague lawyer was a dean of Faculty of Law and legal consultant of Beethoven – Johann Nepomuk Kaňka, who administered advocacy before and after the breakthrough year 1848. Today's Czech Bar Association is based in a reconstructed baroque palace in Národní třída 16, which had been endowed to the association by Kaňka's widow.

The year 1848 opened a path for the Habsburg monarchy to create a modern state. Even when the constitutional progress was interrupted for almost a decade in 1850 by Bach's absolutism, the temporary advocacy institute found in 1849 was still valid. The Advocacy in the Czech states between 1848 – 1918 had the same fate as advocacy in the whole Cisleithan.
The important milestone in these times was the acceptance of a new Advocacy institute in 1868, which made the advocacy conceived as a free and independent occupation, numerus clausus was discharged, autonomous bar associations had been establishned which had a disciplinary authority in the first instance. In January 1869, when the Bar Association came up to the effect, there were 66 lawyers in Prague and their number started to increase rapidly.

The sixties of the 19th century were the birth of emancipation of the Czech language of the law and lawyer occupation application. In 1861, the first Czech magazine "Právník" ("Lawyer") was published. 3 years later, a Union of Lawyers was found in Prague. By complementing this process, the Carl-Ferdinand's university in Prague was divided into the Czech and German part in 1882 and thereby the Czech Faculty of Law was opened.

Aside to the German lawyers, the Czech lawyers were getting more and more advanced. By the end of the century, ingoing generation found a Czech Lawyers Guild and started publishing a Czech, purely advocate magazine "Časopis českých advokátů" (Czech lawyer's magazine), later renamed to "Právnické rozhledy" ("Legal outlooks").

Until the First World War, advocacy companies had stabilised, lawyers were applied in all spheres of the community. Among important lawyers, which had been occuring mainly in years before 1914 were president of the Czech Bar Association Joseph Traga, Prague mayors Antonín Štrobach, Tomáš Černý, Jan Podlipný, Jindřich Šolc, writer Svatopluk Čech, art benefactor Leopold Katz and more. After the WW1, a twenty-year long period of a new legal system (although very linked up to the Austrian one) hads been created due to foundation of Czechoslovakia. Legislation was especially focused on unification of the Czechoslovak law more than on extended recodification works.

Lawyers were greatly participating on the foundation of the state itself, and most of them joined the politics. Their names can be found amongst congressmen, senators and ministers.

In the foreground of lawyers-politicians stands the first finance minister Alois Rašín, long-term Attorney General Ivan Dérer, social-democratic ministers Lev Winter and Alfréd Meissner, advisor and a friend of T. G. Masarik Václav Bouček, diplomat of the First Republic, later a president of the Supreme Supervisory Office Eduard Koerner etc.

But the year 1918 opened faculties, which were now in Brno and Bratislava, for women. The first Czech female "Doctor of Law" was Anděla Kozáková-Jírová, and worked as a notary. The first attorney was Matylda Mocova-Wíchová.

The modern advocacy had a tradition built by four generations at the end of the first republic (1938) and successful legal offices became a family business. It was not a coincidence that the Prague Bar Association intended to work on processing the advocacy history since thirties. Their brief outline made by Evžen Tarabrin reached the end of 18th century. Then the Second World War came.

Events, that came after 1939 (occupation and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, and after a short break the February coup in 1948) were reflected in all spheres of the legal profession, including advocacy. 

Advocacy, decimated through years 1939 – 1945 came through more interventions after 1948. Private practices became extinguished, lawyer uncomfortable to the regime were relieved of their privileges. Those, who did not want to get settled with the time exposed themselves to personal problems or had been cast aside. But even through intense government surveillance the legal offices managed to forward the traditions and habits from the times, when the advocacy was free.

The year 1989 brough a comeback of the proven values of advocacy. Even then the lawyers participated in the positive changes of the state. A lawyer from Prague, Dagmar Burešová, became the first Attorney General after the November 1989; Otakar Motejl became a chairman of the Supreme Court of Czech Republic; a group of lawyers centralized around Karel Čermák prepared a Law of Advocacy, following-up the Austrian legal adjustment of the advocacy. Law Nr. 128/1990 Sb. became valid on 1. 7. 1990. Opening the advocacy brought  many lawyers, who could only desire their former advocacy profession.
Years 1990 – 1996 went in token of double-track. Next to lawyers, many freelance legal professions had risen as well as commercial lawyers focused on a commerce law and representation of business subjects.

As the last point of the modern history of advocacy can be the acceptance of the Law Nr. 85/1996 sb., on advocacy, adjusting the law to the European standard. Many rights and duties of lawyers are connected with that law, especially the "ethic code".