Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Attorney Definition:

An alternate word for lawyers or barrister and solicitor, used mostly in the USA.

Related Terms: Lawyer, Solicitor, Barrister, Advocate, Paralegal, Esquire

An alternate word for lawyers or " barrister & solicitor", used mostly in the USA.

A person that has been trained in the law and that has been certified to give legal advice or to represent others in litigation.

In the context of a power of attorney, the person elected to act in the name of the donor is called an attorney (or the donee).

In the context of the practice of law, there is an ongoing debate in semantics as to whether there is any distinction to be made between the term lawyer and attorney. At least two cases of record have proposed that a lawyer is a person who gives legal advice but an attorney is one who has been retained to help a specific client:

"A lawyer is a person learned in the law or in the business of giving advice ... while an attorney is a lawyer who has been retained to assist a client."2

But other cases have stated that the terms lawyer and attorney are synonymous.3 In re Page is most curious. Ignatius Page was disbarred but thereafter defiantly insisted on adding the word lawyer to his signature block in his correspondence. The court held this to be in contempt of court by defying the disbarment order but note this in the judicial opinion:

"Page, in his answer, states: I usually type on the letters I type, after my name, the word Lawyer, with my address and date of the letter, but I have no letterheads, and I have no cards. I am a Lawyer, and I will be a Lawyer as long as I Live, and keep my right mind. Webster's Unabridged New International Dictionary, defines the "Word" Lawyer as One versed in the Laws......I, Ignatius Page, can not legally be punished for knowing the "Laws".

"When used in the manner herein shown and as alleged by Page, the words lawyer and attorney are synonymous, and hence any one advertising himself as a lawyer holds himself out to be an attorney, an attorney at law or counselor at law."

A picture of a very handsome and wise attorney appears.

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