Attorney at law or attorney-at-law, usually abbreviated in everyday speech to attorney, is the preferred term for a practising lawyer
in certain jurisdictions, including South Africa
(for certain lawyers), Sri Lanka
, the Philippines, and the United States
. In Canada, it is used only in Quebec
as the English term for ''avocat''. The term has its roots in the verb ''to attorn
'', meaning to transfer one's rights and obligations to another.
Previous usage in Ireland and Britain
The term was previously used in England and Wales and Ireland for lawyers who practised in the common law
courts. They were officers of the courts and were under judicial supervision.
[A. H. Manchester, ''A Modern Legal History of England and Wales, 1750–1850'', Butterworths: London, 1980.]
Attorneys did not generally actually appear as advocates in the higher courts, a role reserved (as it still usually is) for barrister
s. Solicitors, those lawyers who practised in the courts of equity
, were considered to be more respectable than attorneys and by the mid-19th century many attorneys were calling themselves solicitors.
The Supreme Court of Judicature Act 1873
in England and Wales and the Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Ireland) 1877
in Ireland redesignated all attorneys as solicitors. The term persists in legal usage in the United Kingdom solely in the instance of patent attorneys
, who are legal professionals having sat professional qualifications and are expert in acting in all matters and procedures relating to patent law and practice. They may, or may not, be additionally either solicitors or barristers, or have come to the practice through a technical expert route (e.g. following a PhD and period of practice in a scientific or engineering field).
In the now three separate jurisdictions of England and Wales
, and Northern Ireland
, references in any enactment to attorneys, with the exception of patent attorneys, must be construed as references to solicitors.
[ The Solicitors Act 1954]
*Attorneys in Japan
*Attorneys in Sri Lanka
*Attorneys in the United States
*Attorneys in South Africa
Category:Professional titles and certifications
Category:Professional certification in law