Attorney at law
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Attorney at law or attorney-at-law, usually abbreviated in everyday speech to attorney, is the official name for a lawyer in certain jurisdictions, including Japan, South Africa (for certain lawyers), Sri Lanka, and the United States. In Canada, it is only used in Quebec. 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 historically used in the jurisdictions of England and Wales, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland. The title has been replaced by solicitor, but still appears in old statutes, in these jurisdictions.
England and Wales
The term was also used in England and Wales for lawyers who practised in the common law courts. In 1873, however, the Supreme Court of Judicature Act abolished the term "attorney", and attorneys were redesignated solicitors, which had always been the title for those lawyers who practised in the courts of equity. Attorneys did not generally actually appear as advocates in the higher courts, a role reserved (as it still usually is) for barristers.
Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland
In both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, various pre-partition statutes dealing with the whole of Ireland and governing court structures, procedures, and court officers remain in force, such as the Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Ireland) 1877.
References in any statutory provision in force in Northern Ireland to attorneys must be construed as references to solicitors of the Court of Judicature.
In the Republic of Ireland, references in any enactment to an attorney (or proctor) are to be construed as a reference to a solicitor.