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ATTORNEY (from O. Fr. atorne, a perso...

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Originally appearing in Volume V02, Page 887 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ATTORNEY (from O. Fr. atorne, a person appointed to act for another, from atourner, legal Lat. attornare, attorn, literally to turn over to another or commit business to another), in English law, in its widest sense, any substitute or agent appointed to act in " the turn, stead or place of another." Attorneys are of two kinds, attorneys-in-fact and attorneys-at-law. An attorneyin-fact is simply an agent, the extent of whose capacity to act is bounded only by the powers embodied in his authority, his power of attorney. An attorney-at-law was a public officer, conducting legal proceedings on behalf of others, known as his clients, and attached to the supreme courts of common law at Westminster. Attorneys-at-law corresponded to .the solicitors of the courts of chancery and the proctors of the admiralty, ecclesiastical, probate and divorce courts. Since the passing of the Judicature Act of 1873, however, the designation" attorney" has become obsolete in England, all persons admitted as Solicitors, attorneys or proctors of an English court being henceforth called " solicitors of the supreme court " (see SOLICITOR). In the United States an attorney-at-law exercises all the functions distributed in England between barristers, attorneys and solicitors, and his full title is " attorney and counsellor-atlaw." When acting in a court of admiralty he is styled " proctor " or " advocate." Formerly, in some states, there existed a grade among lawyers of attorneys-at-law, which was inferior to that of counsellors-at-law, and in colonial times New Jersey established a higher rank still—that of serjeant-at-law. Now the term attorney-at-law is precisely equivalent to that of lawyer. Attorneys are admitted by some court to which the legislature confides the power, and on examination prescribed by the court, or by a board of state examiners, as the case may be. The term of study required is generally two or three years, but in some states less. In one no examination is required. College graduates are often admitted to examination after a shorter term of study than that required from those not so educated. In the courts of the United States, admission is regulated by rules of court and based upon a previous admission to the state bar. In almost all states aliens are not admitted as attorneys, and in many states women are ineligible, but during recent years several states have passed statutes permitting them to practise. Since 1879 women have been eligible to practise before the U. S. Supreme Court, if already admitted to practise in some state court, under the same conditions as men. A state attorney or district attorney is the local public prosecutor. He is either elected by popular vote at the state elections for the district in which he resides and goes out of office with the political party for which he was elected, or he is appointed by the governor of the state for that district and for the same term. He represents the state in criminal prosecutions and also in civil actions within his district. There is a United States district attorney in each federal district, similarly representing the federal government before the courts. An attorney is an officer of the court which admits him to practise, and he is subject to its discipline. He is liable tc his client in damages for failure to exercise ordinary care and skill, and he can bring action for the value of his services. He has a lien on his client's papers, and usually on any judgment in favour of his client to secure the payment of his fees. (See also under BAR, THE.) ATTORNEY-GENERAL, in England, the chief law officer appointed to manage all the legal affairs and suits in which the crown is interested. He is appointed by letters-patent authorizing him to hold office during the sovereign's pleasure. He is ex officio the leader of the bar, and only counsel of the highest eminence are appointed to the office. The origin of the office is uncertain, but as far back as 1277 we find an attornatus regis appointed to look after the interests of the crown, in proceedings affecting it before the courts. He has precedence in all the courts, and in the House of Lords he has precedence of the lord advocate, even in Scottish appeals, but unlike the lord advocate and the Irish attorney-general he is not necessarily made a privy councillor. He is a necessary party to all proceedings affecting the crown, and has extensive powers of control in matters relating to charities, lunatics' estates, criminal prosecutions, &c. The attorney-general and the solicitor-general are always members of the House of Commons (except for temporary difficulties in obtaining a seat) and of the ministry, being selected from the party in power, and their advice is at the disposal of the government and of each department of the government, while in the House of Commons they defend the legality of ministerial action if called in question. Previously to 1895 there was no restriction placed on the law officers as to their acceptance of private practice, but since that date this privilege has been withdrawn, and the salary of the attorney-general is fixed at £7000 a year and in addition such fees according to the ordinary professional scales as he may receive for any litigious business he may conduct on behalf of the crown. The crown has also as a legal adviser an attorney-general in Ireland. In Scotland he is called lord advocate (q.v.). There is also an attorney-general in almost allthe British colonies, and his duties are very similar to those of the same officer in England. In the self-governing colonies he is appointed by the administration of the colony, and in the crown colonies by royal warrant under the signet and sign-manual. There is an attorney-general for the duchy of Cornwall and also one for the duchy of Lancaster, each of whom sues in matters relating to that duchy. The United States has an officer of this name, who has a seat in the cabinet. His duties are in general to represent the federal government before the United States Supreme Court, to advise the president on questions of law, and to advise similarly the heads of the state departments with reference to matters affecting their department. His opinions are published by the government periodically for the use of its officials and they are frequently cited by the courts. Every state but one or two has a similar officer. He represents the state in important legal matters, and is often required to assist the local prosecutor in trials for capital offences. He appears for the public interest in suits affecting public charities. He is generally elected by the people for the same term as the governor and on the same ticket.
End of Article: ATTORNEY (from O. Fr. atorne, a person appointed to act for another, from atourner, legal Lat. attornare, attorn, literally to turn over to another or commit business to another)
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