The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.
The Barrister's Society

In the spring of 1904, several members of the junior class of the Law School conceived the idea of establishing a senior honorary society for the Law School. On May 24, 1904, a meeting was held at Newberry Hall to discuss the formation of such a society. At this meeting a committee of five men, W. E. Wilcox, E. R. Conder, W. R. Lloyd, O. L. Crumpacker, and D. D. Williams, was appointed to draft a constitution and bylaws. A week later the constitution and bylaws were approved, and an election of officers took place. Thus was born the Barrister's Society.

The object of the society, as stated in its constitution, is "the social and professional advancement of its members and of the Law School." The general intention was to supplement the work of the classroom with social as well as intellectual activity in a more congenial atmosphere, and with this end in view, the Barristers have functioned. In its first year, the society held biweekly meetings. It was customary at those meetings to have several members of the society deliver papers on current topics of the law and Barrister ideals. However, this practice was apparently abandoned after several years.

The Barristers flourished without interruption down to 1938. During these years the society was active socially, holding banquets, luncheons, and parties quite regularly. For many years the Barristers cosponsored with the Vulcans and Druids an annual "BVD Dance" until it fell into disfavor with the dean of students and had to be discontinued. In 1938 the Barrister's Society was suspended by the dean of students for one year. After a year in limbo, a more discreet Barrister's Society emerged. Soon World War II depleted the ranks of the society, but it managed to keep alive through the years of the war.

The postwar years brought about the establishment of new traditions and functions for the Barristers. In the spring of 1947, the Barristers sponsored the Crease Dance and published the Raw Review, and the Wig and Robe Dance was sponsored in December, 1947. These dances proved to be successful, and they have been held since then under the auspices of the society. In the fall of 1947, the black string bow tie made its appearance as the hallmark of membership. In recent years the Barristers have Page  1927made a substantial yearly contribution to the operation of the Case Club, and a scholarship fund has been established to assist deserving Law students not qualified for Law School scholarships because of grades. The basic objectives of the Barrister's Society have probably changed little from the ideals of its founders fifty years ago, but particular "traditions" have come and gone and new ones have been created to fill their places.

Each spring the members select men from the junior class who have distinguished themselves through their leadership in various Law School activities, through scholarship and good fellowship for membership in the society. The new members are inducted into the Barristers in the traditional initiation ceremony, marked by the wearing of the judicial wigs and robes by the old members. The new men continue the functions of the society into the following year, and during the following fall semester, they select additional members of the senior class for membership in the society.

The membership rolls are filled with the names of men who have later distinguished themselves, and the hopes of the charter members, that "an organization be founded which would become an agent for good to the Law School and its members," have been realized, as attested by the fact of its continued existence for more than five decades.