View Full Version : Attorney at Law
06-05-2000, 10:38 AM
What other kinds of Attorneys are there? When you say 'Attorney at Law' it suggests there are other kinds of Attorneys or else it's redundant. Attorneys may be a verbose lot but I doubt this would have gotten into our language this way unless it is NOT redundant. My father is an Attorney and general whiz at language and he doesn't know the answer to this so I figured maybe the Teeming Millions might.
As an aside on redundancy in language this one always gets me. As a Network Engineer I frequently have other engineers ask me to get them a NIC card. NIC stands for Network Interface Card. So saying NIC card is the same as saying Network Interface Card Card. A small thing I know put one of those pet peeves nonetheless.
06-05-2000, 10:43 AM
One may be an attorney in fact, as when someone grants you a limited or general power of attorney, the written authority to act on the grantor's behalf. One need not be a lawyer to be an attorney in fact. Generally speaking, you must be a lawyer to be an attorney at law, a practitioner in a court of law who is permitted to prosecute and defend actions on behalf of clients, and to advise clients as to legal rights and obligations.
06-05-2000, 10:55 AM
Possible reason: Traditionally in English law, there were two types of courts: law and equity. The two have intermingled now, but the distinction used to be quite real. Perhaps there were attorneys at law and attorneys at equity.
Another possible reason: there still are attorneys who practice in canonical (religious) court. They may not be considered attorneys-at-law.
06-05-2000, 02:48 PM
Having toyed with the idea of getting a doctorate in canon law, and being reasonably active in the diocecse now, I can tell you that those who practice law for the church are known as "canon lawyers", and they practice "canon law". I suppose it's possible that this was distinguished from "attorney at law", but I'm going to stand by my earlier post that it simply is meant to distinguish attorney in fact.
06-05-2000, 02:51 PM
I concur with Mr. Justice Bricker.
06-06-2000, 01:22 AM
I too concur with Mr. Justice Bricker, but would just add my own concurring opinion (don't you just hate it when they do that?)
According to the Oxford Companion to Law, the attorneys at law started out in England as someone authorised to appear in courts of law and make committments on behalf of the principal, but in 1574 they diverged from the common law inns of court and instead were associated purely with the Inns of Chancery. For several centuries thereafter, they could only appear in Chancery, not in the common law courts.
When the various courts were amalgamated into one "Supreme Court of Judicature" in 1875, the professions also merged, under the title of "solicitors," the term previously used in the common law courts. The attorneys (from Chancery) and the proctors (from Doctors Commons, the ecclesiastical and admiralty courts) became solicitors of the Supreme Court.
(Note: the English bar is still divided between barristers and solicitors; my reference to the merger of the professions is to the three branches of the profession that fulfilled solicitor-like functions, but did not appear in court.)
I don't think the term "attorney at law" is used any more in England; it certainly isn't in Canada. Its survival in the United States is likely the influence of Blackstone, writing a century before the term was abandoned in England.
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