In the Dublin Evening Packet and Correspondent, 3 November 1836, we find an account of a young man’s application to be admitted as a solicitor despite having served less than the standard five years’ apprenticeship:
“COURT OF EXCHEQUER [today’s Court 3]: Mr Jackson KC applied on behalf of Henry Merrick, praying that he be admitted an attorney before serving his time… the father of the applicant was a most respectable solicitor.. he was in partnership with a gentleman named Noblett, who had lately given notice to dissolve the partnership; and, as Mr Merrick had lost his sight, and become quite incapable of doing any business, it would be ruin to the family if their lordships did not permit his son (the applicant) to take his place; as long as he had an active partner it was all well, but if he was left to himself his business would be lost unless the present application was granted.
Baron Pennefather inquired how long the young man had served.
Mr Jackson said that he had served three years, but it was stated in the affidavit that he had worked for a year and a half in his father’s office before his apprenticeship commenced. The present application was most respectably signed, three columns of the brief being taken up with the names, which included the most respectable merchants in Cork, and a great number of gentlemen of the profession he sought to be admitted into, including his father’s former partner.
The application was granted.”
A heartwarming example of the profession being prepared to modify its rules in extraordinary circumstances! I wonder if Mr Merrick holds the record for the youngest solicitor to qualify in Ireland?