Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Attorney

ATTORNEY, in English Law, signifies, in its widest sense, any substitute or agent appointed to act in " the turn, stead, or place of another." The term is now com monly confined to a class of qualified agents who undertake the conduct of legal proceedings for their clients. By the common law the actual presence of the parties to a suit was considered indispensable, but the privilege of appearing by attorney was conceded in certain cases by special dis pensation, until the statute of Merton and subsequent enactments made it competent for both parties in all judi cial proceedings to appear by attorney. Solicitors appear to have been at first distinguished from attorneys, as not having the attorney s power to bind their principals, but latterly the distinction has been between attorneys as the agents formally appointed in actions at law, and solicitors who take care of proceedings in Parliament, Chancery, Privy Council, &c. In practice, however, and in ordinary lan guage, the terms are synonymous. Regulations regarding the qualification of attorneys are found as far back as the 20 Edward I., which required the judges to select in each county the most learned and able attorneys and apprentices to do service in the courts. By the 6 and 7 Viet. c. 73, and other statutes, the qualifications necessary for admis sion on the rolls of attorneys and solicitors are : 1st, The due execution of a proper contract in writing with some practising attorney or solicitor for the term of five years, or of three years if the clerk be a graduate of the universi ties of Oxford, Cambridge, Dublin, London, or Durham, or of the Queen s University, Ireland, or if he have been a member of the bar, a writer to the signet, a solicitor before the supreme courts in Scotland, or for ten years bona fide managing clerk to an attorney ; 2d, The payment of the stamp duty on such contract, amounting to 80 ; 3d, The registry or enrolment of the contract within six calendar months ; 4th, Actual service for the prescribed period in the proper business of an attorney and solicitor ; but one year may be served with the London agent, and, where the service is for five years, another year with a barrister or certificated special pleader ; 5th, Due notices of the applica tion to be admitted ; 6th, Fitness and capacity ascertained upon examination, and certified by the examiners ; 7th, Taking the prescribed oaths, and being admitted and enrolled ; 8th, The certificate of the registrar of attorneys that he is duly enrolled, and the stamped certificate of the annual payment of the duty. Attorneys duly admitted in any of the superior courts have a right to be admitted and to practise in any of the courts in the kingdom, and this right may be enforced by mandamus. They may act as advocates in certain of the inferior courts. Conveyancing, formerly considered the exclusive business of the bar, is now often performed by attorneys. Barristers aro under stood to require the intervention of an attorney in all cases that come before them professionally, although in criminal cases the prisoner not unfrequently engages a counsel directly by giving him a fee in open court. The relation of attorney and client disqualifies the former from dealing with his client on his own behalf, while it gives him a lien, on professional services, over the deeds, &c., of the client in his possession. An attorney may be struck off the rolls for professional or other misconduct, on application by counsel at the instance of an injured party, or, as the case generally is, of the Incorporated Law Society as representing the profession. A letter or power of Attorney is an authority under hand and seal, empowering the person named therein to do some act on behalf of the principal, which otherwise could only be done by the principal himself. It expires with death of the principal, and is revocable at bis will, unless it has been given for a valuable consideration. A ivarrant of Attorney is an authority to one or more attorneys to appear for the party executing it, in a court of record, at the suit of the person for whose benefit it is given, and to suffer judgment summarily to pass in his favour. It is usually given as a security to creditors for the summary recovery of money lent, or sums certain, but may be used in other case s also.