This section is from the book "Science Of Legal Method", by Ernest Bruncken. Also available from Amazon: Science of Legal Method.
This leads us to another and undeniable defect, namely the unman-ageableness of English law, necessarily caused by the use of precedents. Who can possibly digest and know the enormous collections of decisions? Hundreds of sets of reports are extant, a full collection of them fills a large library. Thereby legal science becomes a sort of esoteric doctrine, comprehensible to none but lawyers. This fact explains the extraordinary influence of the advocates and their power over the courts. For the judges, also, cannot ever hope to command a knowledge of the entire body of precedents. This also explains the commanding authority exercised by certain writers who have attempted to digest this "case-law." The Court cannot possibly know the law - it must be provided for him, and not until that has been done can he render his decision.18
In the last analysis it is also owing to this unmanageable character of English law that English lawyers of the present day are trained so unsystematically. They are wont to see in each case merely that case, forming a precedent; they do not learn how to find an abstract principle in the concrete facts, they do not see in the particular case the general rule manifesting itself in individual form. Yet I would not be charged with laying too much stress on abstract systems. Systematic abstraction is the logic of legal science. Nobody can really master particular details who has not first comprehended the multifariousness of the subject-matter in the singleness of all-embracing ideas and concepts, in other words, in systematic unity. The accidental is with difficulty grasped by the memory, the logically necessary is constantly evolved anew by the intellect as a self-evident consequence of the principle.19
18 In the local courts of England, where the judge ordinarily is a layman, conditions produce an extraordinary and preponderating influence of the subordinate officers. I mention this point but incidentally because it is typical of English conditions.
This lack of system in the training as well as the practical work of the lawyers cannot but exert in turn a pernicious influence on a body of law built upon precedents. How can a judge with an unsystematic mind create a consistent body of law? Thanks to the manner of his education, he will hardly ever be able to do so. While case-law brings about lack of system it also in turn is itself rendered unsystematic.